A Royal Citadel on Plymouth Hoe

The Royal Citadel Was A Most Important English Defence For Over 100 Years:

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Royal Citadel - Plymouth Hoe

On our Plymouth Harbour cruise we caught sight of the impenetrable walls of the Royal Citadel. Even from the water, the 70-ft high walls of the Royal Citadel look dramatic and dominate the eastern side of the Hoe. Its size hints at the role that Plymouth played in England’s naval history.

A Fortress for over 100 Years

The Royal Citadel occupies a site where the Plymouth Fort previously stood. After the threatened invasion by the Spanish Armada, Sir Francis Drake requested the construction of the Fort.

It was King Charles II who ordered that the Royal Citadel be built in 1665, as a defense against a threatened Dutch invasion. The King believed that the safety of the Navy was paramount to protect Plymouth’s military and commercial harbour. The Royal Citadel remained a most important English defence for over 100 years.

But in building the Citadel, King Charles II also had own interests in mind. The fortress also served to intimidate rebellious locals who were staunch supporters of Cromwell and the Parliamentarian cause during the Civil War. And, with some of the citadel guns trained on the town rather than out to sea, the locals had reason to feel intimidated.

Over the years, the Citadel was regularly strengthened and during the 1750’s it was equipped with as many as 113 guns. It is still in use today by the British military.

Visiting the Royal Citadel

The Royal Citadel is now an English Heritage property and you can only visit the site on tours by the Blue Badge Guides. On these guided tour visitors are taken for a walk along the ramparts from where there are stunning views out to Plymouth Sound and the old town. You’ll also be shown some of the weaponry in the fortress, with the guides imparting information about the history of the Royal Citadel, its occupants and British military history.

The tours run from May to September (these periods do change) and are available on Tuesdays and Thursdays only at 2:30 p.m. It is necessary to book your tour prior to visiting.   You can email them at plymouth.citadel.tours@googlemail.com.

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