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The Present Past: Upnor Castle

Upnor Castle was an Elizabethan military fort. It was used as a castle until 1667.

Upnor Castle is somewhat hidden away just beyond the boundaries of possibly the loviest village I’ve ever come across. Truly visible only from the river, the castle’s placement is intriguing yet understandable – the river is small but it leads into the North Sea.

This castle is unlike, in nature, any I’ve previously documented here – created as a military fort only, the rooms lack any sort of homely feel, and there are none of the rooms you generally expect to find in a castle. Instead there is a lot of brick work and storage space.

The side of Upnor that looks most castle-like is the one that faces the river. Aptly it looks a little foreboding, and alludes to a larger size than the castle actually is. The side you enter is little more than a gatehouse and courtyard. In all there are four buildings – the gatehouse, the main block, and two towers. And everything is small to boot.

The entrance to the gatehouse sports a large fireplace, and it’s easy to assume that this place was the destination of many a solider on a cold winter’s night. You’re able to walk up the stairs, a few flights, to various rooms. The rooms at Upnor are mainly bare, with simple (and sometimes non-existent) descriptions of what they housed. You can see the workings of the clock in one of them, and the dressing room. You can walk up to the roof.

In the main building, across the tiny courtyard, is the storage room, aptly furnished with barrels and hosting artefacts. Up the rickety stairs is a room of ghostly models and advertisements to say that this, the room, can be used for weddings. If I were to be married in a castle I’d personally opt for something more stereotypical, Hever for example, especially as the smell here is awful. I don’t know what it is but it’s definitely something gone off or something historical (maybe both) and any Chanel no.5 would be quickly replaced by Chanel no. 1600s.

From the first, ground floor, room in this building there are steps down which lead to the river front. The view is pretty enough and you can spend some time in vain, as I did, trying to a get a photograph of the entirely of this most castle-like side.

You can go back up the stairs or you can take the eerie tunnel. We take the tunnel. It’s long, and if Upnor is haunted then this seems the place (ironically I’m writing this in a place that is most certainly haunted). You then come outside the castle and enter the left tower (left to the gatehouse). There are more empty rooms and you have to be careful on the stairs because there is the potential to fall through the gaps. At the time I visited the roof wasn’t open to visitors.

Across the way and there is the right tower. A door level with the courtyard or a flight of steps takes you to the same place. In the tower are the historical toilets and another fireplace. Back in the courtyard there is a door that appears to go to a cellar but only takes you outside the walls. The shop and ticket office were barracks, but you can’t look around them.

And that’s Upnor. Small, unassuming, but likely a nasty surprise for the Dutch it was built to fight against.

The rest of my photos. If you want to see them full size, right click and open them in a new window/tab.



September 11, 2013, 6:05 am

I’m laughing at the part of the smell, and just in the wedding room!! :))
I like these posts very much, Charlie! It’s a shame there is no furniture, at least in one of the rooms, but well, the castle looks great and I like to know it now that you have showed us!


September 11, 2013, 11:14 am

Ha! So interesting about the smell :D. I love the way you’ve captured the light in some of the photos – especially the fourth one. Could inspire a little story.


September 11, 2013, 9:17 pm

This journey of yours to see the castles is so neat. I wish we had the history here that you have! The pictures are gorgeous!


September 12, 2013, 5:22 am

I love hearing about your castle adventures Charlie. Upnor is another castle I have not heard of let alone visited. Great photos. Thank you for sharing.


September 12, 2013, 10:15 am

Isi: I’m kind of hoping it isn’t there all the time, because it really was horrible! Thank you :) Yes, it might have been more ‘real’ with more furntiture, but then again there really might not have been much coziness to the place.

Jennifer: Thanks :) I actually used my sunset filter for most of the photos in the end, because the normal setting washed out all the colours (it was a bit cloudy).

Trish: It is one thing I really like about living here, I must admit. And thank you!

Jessica: I hadn’t heard of it myself until about 15 minutes before getting there – the trip was for Rochester Castle but then the staff there said “have you been to Upnor? It’s just up the road”, and, well, 10 minute journey versus a whole other trip it just made sense to visit that day. Thank you!



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