Henry VIII, the Reign
The defences were not thought adequate by Henry VIII when he visited Hull in 1541 after the suppression of the Pilgrimage of Grace. He ordered, in October, that various improvements should be made. A bulwark was to be built at 'the Watergate' (i.e. the South End postern). The little round brick tower on Holderness side was to be 'enlarged to bear the chain and to beat the haven' and was to have a guard established in it. (fn. 29) The brick gate at North End (i.e. North Gate) was to be 'mured up and made platform' to beat the flank of the town and the haven. The corner tower was to be made 'larger out' to answer to North Gate and the gate 'where Constable hangeth', (fn. 30) and the latter gate was to be provided with a barbican; the corner tower was presumably that at the north-west angle of the town and, from this description, the gate where Constable hung was perhaps Beverley Gate, though that was never in fact provided with a barbican across the town ditch. (fn. 31) 'Milgate' (i.e. presumably Myton Gate) was to be left open because it was convenient for access to the ferry at Hessle and to the townspeople's pastures. The town ditch was to be scoured and the sluices were to be renovated so as to 'drown about the town' if required. The ramparts were to be made up with soil and, finally, all gates not already mentioned were to be 'mured up'. (fn. 32)
In 1542 it was further ordered that, until the new fortifications (see below) were finished, Hessle Gate, 'the Water Gate', and 'the Brickgate towards Holderness' (i.e. North Gate) should be locked at night. The tower of 'the Water Gate' was to have ordnance set upon it, and all other gates and posterns were to be 'closed up and dammed'. (fn. 33) Later in the year it was agreed that the gate where Constable hung might remain open and Myton Gate be blocked. (fn. 34)
The walls on the north, west, and south sufficed for the defence of the town until the 16th century. In 1541, however, Henry VIII ordered not only that the walls should be strengthened but also that a 'castle' and two blockhouses should be built on the east side of the haven. (fn. 35) The work was to be under the oversight of Sir Richard Long, the newlyappointed captain of the town, and Michael Stanhope, the lieutenant, and the surveyor was John Rogers, lately the king's master mason at Calais. (fn. 36) Between October 1541 and December 1543 a total of £23,144 was expended by 'the paymaster of and for the fortifications'. (fn. 37)
The new works were built partly of brick and partly of stone taken from St. Mary's Church, Hull, (fn. 38) and from Meaux Abbey. An estimate of wages to be paid to over 500 workmen and labourers, made in February 1542, mentioned 20 masons at Meaux 'to see it taken down' and at Hull 'to hew', and 60 bricklayers at the fortifications. (fn. 39) At least some of the bricks were made on the spot, in a kiln 'of ten holes' near the castle. (fn. 40) The works consisted of a blockhouse near the Humber, at the mouth of the haven; another near the river, across from the town's North Gate but a few yards further north; a 'castle' roughly midway between the blockhouses; a curtain wall connecting these three; and a ditch outside to the east. (fn. 41)
The castle had a three-story inner keep, measuring 66 by 50 feet, a surrounding courtyard, 28 feet wide on two sides and 20 feet on the other two, and an outer wall 174 feet square. The walls of the keep were 8 feet thick and those of the outer wall about 19 feet, with a 5-foot-wide corridor within them all round the building. Projecting from the east and west sides were apartments measuring 45 by 40 feet, each with a gallery above a lower room. Platforms above the courtyard carried the guns. Each blockhouse was roughly trefoil-shaped, with rounded apartments on three sides measuring 34 by 27 feet, and a square projection on the fourth containing the entrance; the inner courtyard was 37 feet square. The walls were 15 feet thick. The blockhouses were two stories high and there were again upper platforms for the guns. (fn. 42)
• 32. L. & P. Hen. VIII, xvi, p. 579.
• 33. Ibid. xvii, pp. 62–65.
• 34. Ibid. p. 708.
• 35. Procs. and Ords. of Privy Council (Rec. Com.), vii, p. 252.
• 36. L. & P. Hen. VIII, xvii, pp. 62–65; J. H. Harvey, Eng. Med. Architects, 228.
• 37. Wilberforce Ho. MSS.
• 38. See p. 296.
• 39. L. & P. Hen. VIII, xvii, p. 34.
• 40. S.C. 12/19/41.
• 41. The works have been discussed in L. R. Shelby, John Rogers, Tudor Military Engineer, 24–34.
• 42. J. H. Hirst, 'Castle of Kingston-upon-Hull', T.E.R.A.S. iii. 29–30; a paper of 1572 gives the thicknesses of the walls as 18 ft. for the castle, 17 ft. for the block houses, and 12 ft. for the curtain wall: Hull Corp. Rec., Box 149, Castle and blockhouses, Eliz.; a plan of 1882 gives the north blockhouse walls as 18 ft. thick at the base and about 20 ft. high: Wilberforce Ho. maps and plans.