Tonbridge Castle

The Gatehouse

The Gatehouse is 'as strong as a fortress as few be in England'. Even today its mighty Gatehouse is among the finest in England. You can see the arrow slits in the Gatehouse towers to defend against attack. A drawbridge crossed the moat from the Gatehouse.

The Gatehouse was constructed of local sandstone. It not only offered living accommodation and a stateroom but also incorporated the latest features of castle design,  either from outside or attack, or attack from within the bailey. The Gatehouse, with its round towers on octagonal bases, rose to five storeys, one underground. It was approached across the moat by a drawbridge, while portcullises protected either end of the passage through the gatehouse into the bailey of the castle

On the second floor was the great hall. The gatehouse served several purposes.                                    


Defence Strongly protected against attack, it housed guards, stores and had its own well.

Domestic The hall was used for eating and sleeping.

Storage Valuable stores were kept in rooms below ground reached only by trap doors.


In 1897 the people who looked after Tonbridge Castle decided to sell it. Tonbridge Urban District Council jumped at the chance to give Tonbridge Castle to Tonbridge.

The person that lived there at the time was a boy's prep school that paid 170 a year rent and probably would have liked to buy it. But the Council was giving first refusal and the town soon learnt that only 10,000 stood between it and its heritage.

In April 1898 the Castle and 14 acres of land became the property of Tonbridge " forever". The Castle grounds were officially opened with appropriate celebration on 23rd of May 1900-the Wednesday nearest Queen Victoria's birthday.

The gates were flung wide  with a specially made silver key, a military band played, Cannons boomed from the battlements and a Venetian fete got merrily underway.

Then as darkness fell the old yellow stones of the Castle gatehouse and walls were suddenly brilliantly lit up, the illuminations shining too on the hundreds of faces which now joined together in singing " God Save the Queen." 

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