Dover seems to still be getting over the last recession, never mind this one, but back in the 12th Century when Henry II was king, things were much different.
The father of Richard The Lionheart and King John, Henry’s empire stretched north to Scotland and as far south as Aquataine in France, so Dover Castle was built right in the middle of it all – but it served a greater purpose than just putting him at the centre of his kingdom.
In a fight for power, Henry had despatched his erstwhile pal, the cleric Thomas Becket, who had posthumously been canonised and his remains at Canterbury Cathedral became an attraction for pilgrims. Ian effort to show who was boss, Henry II wanted the pilgrims to see his crowning glory on their way to the shrine.
Given it’s strategic and PR importance, the king furnished the castle lavishly with spending sprees that would have put Elton John to shame – a fact only recently disovered after extensive research by English Heritage. The Great Tower has spent the last year getting a £2.5m makeover to reflect this new thinking and is now lavishly refurbished with some state of the art interactive gadgets thrown in to keep the kids interested.
At the launch, English Heritage put on a huge light show to reflect what the ‘King Of Bling’ could have had in mind if he were alive today and we also got to play around with a new fangled light graffiti system, hence my rubbish attempt at writing Metro on it’s walls in the above pic.
My other half and I also got to stay in a unique property on the site: Peverell’s Tower. The castle’s former prison was built in the 1300s but has now been transformed into an EH holiday cottage. Some of the old features remain: wooden beams, an exposed fire place and the name of a former prisoner etched into one of the walls. It’s a spooky, yet incredibly special place to stay… try it out if you can.