Castles and Fortifications of England and Wales


Crownhill Fort is the largest of a ring of eleven forts and batteries (similar in design to those around Portsmouth) that were completed in 1872 to form the northern part of the Plymouth Defences to protect against invasion by land. It is the only one still in original condition and was used by the army until 1986 since when it has been owned by the Landmark Trust. It was built 1860 - 70 and was equipped with thirty guns, a ditch 30 foot wide surrounding a seven sided structure. A Scheduled Ancient Monument.

Crownhill Fort is open to the public. The Officers’ Quarters have been restored by The Landmark Trust and can be rented as holiday accommodation.

The other forts are Agaton, Woodland, Bowden, Austin and Efford Forts and these were supported by Ernesettle, Knowles, Forder, Eggbuckland Keep and Laira (2) Batteries. A second ring of six forts were planned to the west of the city, but were never started.

Laira Battery 1863-71 It was designed as a five sided battery to support Efford Fort with thirteen guns, but by 1885 it had just eight 7" RBLs. There was also an emplacement for four 8" RML guns to the rear. Now a private, industrial park, some of the ditches have been fillled in.
Efford Fort 1860-70 Private, very overgrown
Austin Fort 1860-70 Used by the council, still largely intact. Photo below.
Forder Battery 1860-70 Overgrown
Eggbuckland Keep 1860-70 Now a DIY centre. A Scheduled Ancient Monument
Bowden Fort 1860-70 Now used as a garden centre. Much of the structure remains although the ditch has been filled in. A Scheduled Ancient Monument
Woodland Fort 1860-70 The exterior is overgrown and neglected. A Scheduled Ancient Monument
Knowle Battery 1863-70 Next to school playing fields, now a Scheduled Ancient Monument. Photo below.
Agaton Fort 1863-71 A private vehicle testing centre. Overgrown in places but much remains. Access by prior arrangement. A Scheduled Ancient Monument
Ernesettle Battery 1860-70 Not used, inside a Naval base, private. A Scheduled Ancient Monument

Aerial photo of Crownhill Fort Steve Johnson

Photo of Austin Fort by Tony Atkin / CC BY-SA 2.0

Photo of Knowle Battery by Mick Lobb / CC BY-SA 2.0


4 miles north of Plymouth City Centre, off the A386 Tavistock Road.
Crownhill Fort Rd, Plymouth, Devon PL6 5BX



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