Kent Archaeological Review extract

The Tudor Blockhouse at the Clarendon Royal Hotel, Gravesend.
by D G Thompson (an Interim Report).

Fig.2 Detail plan of the portion of the Blockhouse excavated in 1975.

The Site (TQ 650 743) is situated under the lawn and car park in front of the Clarendon Royal Hotel and the Excavation is being carried out by the Thameside Archaeological Group under the joint direction of Mrs V Smith and Mr D Thompson on behalf of the Kent Defence Research Group of the Kent Archaeological Society. The historical background to the building can be found in "Archaeologia Cantiana" Volume LXXXIX (Mr V T C Smith -- The Artillery Defences of Gravesend). Work commenced on July 19th 1975 by delineating the area as follows:

The sea wall running across the northern end of the site was taken as a base-line (0D 13.31 -- 4.05 metres). Offsets of 40 metres were taken at points 4 metres west of the extreme easterly corner of the sea wall (junction of lawn and car park) and a further 17 metres west of this point. The area of excavation was thus enclosed in a rectangle 17 metres by 40 metres.

A preliminary probe survey of this area failed to establish any significant features indicating where digging should commence. We, however, prepared a plan made by superimposing a plan drawn in 1715 on to the Ordnance Survey Map of the area (Figure 1). The plan shows the defences at that time with the Blockhouse incorporated as a Magazine and due to the failure of the probe survey, it was decided to rely solely on this plan to conduct the excavation.

A number of trenches were marked out and after removing the turf and top soil the area was found to be covered by a layer of chalk and compressed rubble, the remains of the Victorian Pleasure Gardens and later tennis courts which occupied the site. As anticipated, below this was found the north-west half of the 'D' shaped front of the Blockhouse has continued on both sides of this feature in selected areas to a depth of over 2 metres. Significant features of the wall are that it is of brick construction 2metres thick, faced outside with large curved rectangular ashlar blocks, with an off-set 11 centimetres wide at a distance of 48 centimetres below the existing top of the wall (0D12.34 -- 3.76 m). (Figure 2/2).

The inner face of the wall was excavated to a depth of 2.3 metres where a rammed chalk floor was found and also a brick 'step' 1.07 metres below the top of the wall. This step was 44cm wide and followed the entire excavated length of the wall (Figure 2/3). Gun Ports, bricked in at a later date can be clearly seen (Figure 2/4), together with four iron retaining rings for the guns (Figure 2/5) found in situ. A line of plaster on the inner face of the wall, 48 centimetres below the existing top indicated that a secondary floor level had been in use at a later period. This was confirmed later by the finding of a number of pieces of flagstone in situ (Figure 2/6) This later floor had been built on a make up of clay and rubble, unfortunately no dating material was found here, although large pieces of masonry, i.e. Door Jamb, keystone and portions of a stone gully, were found indicating a period of major reconstruction.

During the course of excavation of the internal structure a number of unexpected brick walls were found, the first (Figure 2/7)a substantial one 1.10 metres wide and 2.08 metres high, running due east-west across the 'D' shaped front of the Blockhouse. Three further walls were also found running at right angles to the first (Figures 2/8, 9 and 10). These four walls are not shown on the 1715 plan and are obviously of later construction. A further cross wall, (Figure 2/11), not parallel to the cross wall (Figure 2/7) conforms to the 1715 plan but has obviously been rebuilt during a later period. Future work will be concerned with further investigation of the interior and establishing the total depth of the walls and the nature of the foundations.

DRAWING: Plan of Tudor Blockhouse, Gravesend.

Plan of Tudor Blockhouse, Gravesend.

DRAWING: 1975 Excavation.

Detail plan of the portion of the Blockhouse excavated in 1975.

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