At Dover you can board a ferry to France. The ferry is a usually cheaper than flight or the Eurostar. Prices normally includes all passengers and a car. Alternatively you can travel as a foot passenger. The ferry goes to Calais and from there you can drive or take public transport to Paris.
Dover's Castle and main attraction was constructed by the Norman's soon after their conquest of England in 1066 (probably on the site of an earlier iron-age hill fort. The Normans built their great fortress to protect and control the town and port of Dover.
Over the following two centuries it was rebuilt and extended by successive Norman monarchs and was actively used as a defensive fortress right up until the 20th century when the tunnels beneath the castle were used as a command centre for British and Allied forces in teh second world war and the Dunkirk evacuation was co-ordinated from here. In the 1960s the tunnels were redesignated as a seat of government in xase of nuclear attack.
These tunnels are now open as "Operation Dynamo" which is a very dramatic and impressive presentation of the operation to evacuate Allied forces from the beaches of Dunkirk using special effects and film footage. This was the real top highlight of our visit and I can't recommend seeing this enough.
Another part of the tunnels is open as the "Underground Hospital". Another example of English Heritage putting special effects to excellent use to bring history to life. These tunnels were used as a hospital during the war and it is shocking to see that people had to practice medicine on critically injured people in these tunnels.
My second favourite bit of the castle was the Great Tower built by Henry II. Other key things not to miss are the Roman Lighthouse and Church of St Mary in Castro.
The entrance to the castle is quite step (both physically to walk up and financially to pay!) at £16.50 for adults and £9.90 for children in 2012. However it is free for English Heritage members so it's well worth considering taking out a membership if you are going to visit any other properties as well as Dover Castle.
This church inside Dover Castle was built around 1000 and is probably the best example of Saxon architecture left in Kent today. It seems strange to find a Saxon Church (next to a Roman Lighthouse) inside a Norman Castle, but the church was probably built within the earthworks of a Saxon Hill fort that may have been built around the start of the 11th century to defend the kingdom during these very troubled years.
Unfortunately the church is not nearly as impressive inside as it is outside, but still well worth a look whilst at Dover castle.
This Roman Lighthouse which now stands within Dover Castle is the remains of the pharos built in the 2nd century AD as the Romans developed the port of Dover. It's a strange octagonal building and only the outer walls of the lowest 4 floors survive. It may have been abandoned when the Romans left Britain but was probably back in operation at some point later as there are records of a lighthouse keeper as late as the 12th century. In the early 15th century the Duke of Gloucester rebuilt the top (now gone) of the tower as a bell tower for the adjacent church.
The Great Tower of Dover Castle was actually built as a palace rather than a defensive building. It was built on the orders of King Henry II in the 12th century as a place he could welcome and impress important visitors to England.
Recently the Tower has been refurbished and redecorated to try to achieve what it may have looked like in 1189 when Henry welcomed Philip, Count of Flanders here. I've always fallen into the trap of seeing this period of history as a very grey and colourless time. Here the colours of the day are put on display for us all to see and when combined with the replicated smells of the day it is a real experience for the senses. There is also the chance of fantastic views across Dover from the roof.
The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment Museum was quite interesting.
The Royal Regiment was formed in 1992 by an amalgamation of The Queen's Regiment and The Royal Hampshire Regiment, and has been to most of the major battles.
The museum show cases the events as well as anything else to do with the Regiment, including Helmet's, many medals, Uniforms, a Victorian Cross, and many more excellent displays.
It is located near the Great Tower
OPEN.....Apr - Sept 10am-6pm, Oct 10am-5pm, Nov - Jan 10am-4pm (closed Tues and Wed), Feb-Mar 10am-4pm Closed: 24-26 Dec and 1 Jan.
It is included in the entry price of Dover Castle
There are two tunnels that you can do a tour through for free. [entry included in admission ticket]
The trouble is, when time is limited, we had to choose only one, so we chose the shorter tour. We had to queue as one tour was already on the way. Only a limited number of people are allowed on each tour, luckily, we managed to go on the next one.
So, let me tell you about the Tunnel's............
The Tunnels can only be seen by tour, with an informative tour guide who answered question's along the way.
The tour is actually a story about a wounded Pilot who was taken to the Hospital in the Tunnel. The hospital was constructed between 1941-1942, it had an operating theatre and medical dressing station that was used to repair the wounded Soldier's, and civilian's injured in the War. It traces his journey, until he was well enough to return to duty or home.
In this tunnel, we saw the kitchen's and where the women slept, plus all the old furniture and all the necessities to run these rooms, add in sounds and smells, and this makes it all the more interesting.
Imagine working day and night deep inside Dover Castle's top secret tunnels as war raged outside, trying to rescue the troops stranded at Dunkirk as German forces closed in. These people that worked in the Tunnel's did a marvellous job!
Tour about 30-40minutes
NO PHOTO'S ALLOWED!
The other underground tunnel, which we didn't have time to see, is "Operation Dynamo"
This one is about the rescue from Dunkirk and you will hear original news-reels and recordings, stories from surviving, and sounds and special effects.
I think this tour was about 1.5hours.
From the township of Dover, we could easily see the mighty Dover Castle towering above the town.
Well, we had to find a way there, and that was easy, as in Dover, the road to the Castle was signposted with a Tourist Sign.
About three quarters the way up the hill, we turned right and followed the road to the Car park which is FREE.
There is a free little train that will take you around the Castle area, if this isn't working, then there is a shuttle vehicle.
No need to worry about food & drinks, as there are Ice-creams, Cafe & Restaurants. The shop sells souvenirs and toilets are located at the back, and there are more Toilets located elsewhere on the site.
Walking to the Castle is uphill, and there is quite a bit of walking to do.
Dover Castle is OPEN.....10 - 6pm
Last admission is 1hour before closing
The tour of the Secret War Tunnels is included in the price.
ADMISSION IN 2011....Adult£16.00..Child£9.60...Concession£14.40...Family Ticket£41.60
If you are a member of the English Heritage, then admission to the Castle is free.
St Mary in Castro, is a church in the grounds of Dover Castle.
Coming from a "young country," I couldn't believe that I was inside a Saxon Church dating back to 1000, not just any old church, but a very historical one that has the earliest door arch to survive in any standing church in England!
There was an even older church here, built in the 600's!
Looking around, I could see it was old. On reading about the Church, I realized the tiles I had viewed were Roman tiles from the Roman Lighthouse which was used as a Bell tower for the Church. Renovation's were carried out over the following years with three altars and images of of St. Edmund, St. Adrian and St. Edward, along with an image of St. John the Evangelist being added in the 1200's. More was done over the years, until what I viewed today.
Plenty of history in this Church!
St. Mary is still being used today by the local's and the Army, I think that is amazing!
The Great Tower, built by King Henry II, is an impressive looking 12th century square building, [the largest in Britain.]
There was a Castle built here in 1066 by William of Normandy, he moved to London, then King Henry II came along and had the Castle rebuilt, including the Keep in late 1180's.
The Tower is four stories high, this includes the basement, 1st floor, and the 2nd floor that takes up two stories, and the upper level has the Great Armour Hall and Murals.
The elaborate 2nd story, was where the "Royal's" lived, while the 1st floor wasn't so elaborate.
Inside, rooms have been set out like they would have been. In the large guest room, a woman dressed in period costume, was re-enacting Dinner at the "high table"in the early days. The diner's were the tourist's [you and me!]
The backcloth of the 'high table', is the centrepiece of the Guest Hall where Henry II would have dined and entertained foreign pilgrims and dignitaries. [see photo]
I saw different types of Armour, the Kings bed chamber and much more. I thought it was really well done!
From the very top, the views over Dover, and the rest of Dover Castle are excellent, so make the effort, it is worth it!
The website listed below, tells you when actors of King Henry's Royal court are there. Please check if you wish to visit on one of those days!
Arthur's Hall is where we went 1st, as this is an introductory exhibition on the Great Tower.
Inside, it traced the beginning of Dover Castle and Henry II, plus all of its occupant's, till today.
There was a video to watch, and the rest was informative displays.
Another well done exhibition, and really if you come, you should visit here 1st.
Entry is included in the entrance fee for Dover Castle.
This store is also located in the area of the Great Tower. In 1912, it was built for the Royal Garrison Artillery. Now, it's and archaeological store for the South East, with displays going back 6000 years, including Roman coins and pots, historical plans, archives and photographs, as well as artefacts from both World War II and the Cold War. Coming here gives you the chance to see a working store, and to see changing displays if you come back more than once.
OPEN......first Friday of every month 10.30am-1pm then 2pm-4pm.
Entry is included in admission to Dover Castle.
Driving into Dover, I noticed a very small Chapel, wedged inbetween newer high buildings. On walking back, I found it was the very old Chapel of St Edmund, the first and only chapel ever dedicated by an English saint to an English saint. It was dedicated to St Edmund of Abingdon, who was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1234 to 1240.
Bishop Richard of Chichester consecrated the chapel, only to be taken ill the next day at Morning Prayer, and four days later died in the Maison Dieu.
I found it interesting, that Richard’s heart was buried in Dover but his body was taken back to Chichester and interred in the chapel of St. Edmund in the Cathedral.
With all the larger buildings around it, the size of Chapel stands out even more. Only 28 feet in length by 14 feet in breadth, [375 square feet,] it is claimed to be the smallest church in regular use in England.
I walked through the small garden to the Door, tried to open it, when a Local yelled to me that the Church is hardly ever open, so I guess if you wish to see the inside, the best time would be the Sunday Service.
Looking at the Maison Dieu, I thought it was a beautiful Church, it really looked like one. To my surprise, it was the Town Hall!
It has four beautiful historic rooms that contain a collection of arms and armour, some paintings and beautiful stained glass windows depicting historical events.
The Maison Dieu, was founded by the Constable of Dover Castle, in 1203, and provided accommodation for pilgrim's travelling to the shrine of Thomas Becket at Canterbury, and for the care of wounded and destitute soldiers.
FROM.... 10am to 12 noon until 31 March 2012 by volunteer guides from The Dover Society.
ADMISSION...1 British pound.
Maison Dieu House is where the Dover Town council is located.
It is thought to be the oldest domestic building in town, as it was built in 1665.
Looking at it from the outside, I thought it was no where near "that" old!"
It has been used for many different purposes, including the Navy, the private residence of the three time Mayor of Dover, Mr Mummery, he lived and died here, in 1855, the famous mountaineer Albert Mummery was born in the house, and in 1952, it was used as the Public Library until 2004, when it became council offices.
There are still original features like the jacobean staircase, and the original wall panelling, which makes it a very nice location for a Wedding ceremony.
Open on week-days from 9 - 5pm
Outside I liked the War Memorial, remembering the dead in the 1st & 2nd World Wars.