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Dover: Lock and Key of the Kingdom

Dover Maps - The Town Walls

The outline of Dover's mediaeval walls superimposed on a late 19th Century map of Dover
The town walls of Dover encircled the old town centre, and  extended across the valley from cliff to cliff to protect from  sea-borne invasion.

I - Butchery Gate

The gate gets its name from the butchers’ quarter of the  town. Also called Standfast Tower the river passed under  this gate on its way to the sea. Demolished in 1819.

II - Severus Gate

Although it bears the name of a Roman Emperor there is  nothing to suggest that this gate was Roman in origin,  being originally named Boldware Gate. Here was “The  Bench” a meeting place of merchants, from where Bench  Street gets its name. Demolished in 1762.  

III - Old Snar Gate

This was a tower at the western corner of the wall. It has been suggested that engineers built a snare or trap across the river mouth to catch rubbish before it blocked up the harbour, and that it is from this “snare gate” that the name derives. From here the original wall  took a shorter route to Cow Gate (VI) until it was extended in 1370.

IV - Snar Gate

This gate was built in 1370 when the recession of the sea and development of the town outside the wall, along Snargate Street, made it desirable to extend the wall in that direction. Demolished in 1683 it was one of the first town gates to be removed.  V - Adrian Gate   From Snar Gate the new wall, appropriately called “Upwall” went up the face of the cliff. Immediately above was Adrian, or Upwall, Gate.

VI - Cow Gate

This gate may take its name from the fact that cattle were grazed on the Western Heights that this gate led to. Demolished in 1776.

VII - St Martin’s or Monk’s Gate

This was a small postern gate in the western boundary of the precincts of St Martin-le-Grand.

VIII - Biggin Gate

The main road to Canterbury and London (Biggin Street) passed out of the town through this gate. The gate was taken down in 1762  and part of the wall nearby was demolished in 1827.  

IX - Tower (name unknown), X - Tinker’s Tower, XI and XII

From Biggin Gate the wall ran along the northern boundary of St Mary’s Churchyard to a tower (IX) where it made a right angle turn  running towards Stembrook, where there was another Tower (X) known as Tinker’s Tower. Where the wall passed across what is now  Castle Street the river Dour ran under the wall (XI). At Dolphin Lane the foundations of a gate have been found (XII), which formed the  ancient entrance to the town on this side.

XIII - Fisher’s Gate

The wall encircling the town rejoined the wall along the seashore at this point.

XIV - St Helen’s Gate

Also called Cross Gate, the name taken from St Helen’s Cross which was over it.

XV East Brook Gate

This took its name from the eastern part of the river Dour which ran into the harbour near this point. The gate was the main access to  Dover’s early harbour. From here the wall ran on to join the castle cliff near to St James’s Church.