14 ISLE OF MAN EXAMINER www.iomtoday.co.im Tuesday, February 11, 2020 BUILDINGS AT RISK Forts highlight the Lord of Man’s links with Henry VIII

In May of last year the Derby Fort on Fort Island, near Castletown, was subjected to a vandal attack in which pieces of masonry were damaged and a was removed from its stand. This il- lustrates the vulnerability of some of the island’s remoter historic sites, and perhaps a need to make the wider public more aware of why such monuments are significant to the Manx story. In this latest Buildings at Risk feature, Simon Artymiuk of the Isle of Man Natural History and Antiquarian Society takes a look at how the Derby Fort is a surviving remnant of a number of built as a result a 16th-century Lord of Man’s close connections to that best-known and most formidable and ruthless of English monarchs, King Henry VIII.

he Isle of Man is today justifi- ably noted for its spectacular me- dieval at Castletown and Peel, but what Tis perhaps not obvious is that by the time of the 16th-centu- ry equivalent of Brexit – King Henry VIII’s break with the Roman Catholic Church in the 1530s – and consequent threat of invasion by Continental powers, technology had made the old style of defences out of date. The development of weap- onry using from the 15th century onwards meant that even the most im- pressive-looking medieval cas- tle walls, built to resist knights in heavy armour, archers and weapons like catapults, could now be blasted through with shots from even the rather primitive of that era. When the first of the Tudor kings, the Lancastrian Henry VII, invaded England via west Wales to take the Yorkist King Richard III’s crown in 1485, he had managed to achieve The circular Derby Fort on St Michael’s or Fort Island is the best surviving Henrician era fort in the Isle of Man. Sadly it was recently subjected to a vandal attack his victory at the Battle of Bosworth in Leicestershire without any of the kingdom’s it was ‘better to be a great lord meeting the Spanish king and great castles presenting any than a petty king’ and adopted Holy Roman Emperor Charles obstacles to his advance. the title Lord of Man) and his V, as well as fighting the Placing the slain Richard’s son Edward, the 3rd Earl – French in one of Henry’s wars, crown on Henry VII’s head on were in positions close to the Edward the 3rd Earl was even the battlefield was his step- second Tudor monarch, King closer to the volatile English father, Thomas Stanley, the Henry VIII. monarch. titular King of Man and subse- While the 2nd Earl took Inheriting the Manx and quently made 1st Earl of Derby. part in the spectacular meet- Derby titles at the age of just Through the early 16th cen- ing of Henry VIII with the 13 in 1521, he was brought up tury, the next two rulers of the French King Francis I known at court as King Henry’s ward island – Thomas, 2nd Earl of as the Field of the Cloth of and with the monarch’s then Derby (the one who declared Gold, and joined Henry in right-hand man, Cardinal Wolsey, as his guardian. In 1528, aged 19, he accom- panied Wolsey on a diplomatic mission to France. In 1530 Edward, Lord of Man and 3rd Earl of Derby, was one of the nobles who signed a letter to The remains of the Half Moon Battery on St Patrick’s Isle was another of Edward, 3rd Earl of Derby’s 16th-century the Pope threatening to end defences his Supremacy over church matters in England unless the monasteries was taken for lowed by bloody executions. the threat of invasion posed by divorce was granted. the royal coffers and monas- With the building in the combined might of France In the events that followed, tic lands were redistributed around 1540 of what we now and after the papacy de- Edward took a leading role in among the gentry and nobles. know as the Derby Fort, plus clared an interdict of excom- enforcing Henry’s policy of the Edward, Lord of Man, other new fortifications on the munication against England. Dissolution of the Monaster- also took a prominent part in Pollock Rock at Douglas, at the Many of these ‘Device ies in the north of England – a putting down the rebellion entrance of the Sulby River Forts’ were financed using process which also led to the which broke out against these at Ramsey, on St Patrick’s Isle wealth seized during the Dis- shutting down of the Isle of religious changes across the at Peel and reinforcing solution of the Monaster- Man’s religious houses, such north of England known as the Rushen, Edward also seems ies and built using stone and Douglas Fort can be seen on the Pollock Rock in the background, in front of as Rushen Abbey at Balla- Pilgrimage of Grace, a popular to have followed Henry VIII’s other material ‘recycled’ from the town’s houses, in this watercolour of the bay by John ‘Warwick’ Smith salla and Douglas Priory (the movement that was crushed policy of building a new chain nearby abbeys and monaster- painted in around 1795 Nunnery). The wealth of the with brutal suppression fol- of ‘’ to counter ies that were being demol- Tuesday, February 11, 2020 www.iomtoday.co.im ISLE OF MAN EXAMINER 15 BUILDINGS AT RISK

In this mid-19th century photograph of steamer piers at Douglas some remains of Douglas Fort can be seen, just above George Steuart’s lighthouse, in use as a kind of advertising at the head of the new Victoria Pier

ished. It could perhaps be that the Lord of Man had stone from Rushen Abbey used for An image from an interpretation board at Bayard’s Cove Fort, Dartmouth, , showing how Henrician era the Derby Fort and that mate- harbourside forts were used in the 16th century rial from the original Nunnery convent went into Douglas Fort. long in shape, the surviving have been regarded as military if an attack came from that Before the 1530s Henry Bayard’s Cove Fort has some specialists and knowledge quarter. Most of the Henrician VIII had taken little interest in similarities of appearance of how to use of cannons and ‘Device Forts’ were never used coastal defences, but the new with the Isle of Man’s Derby firearms was not widespread in anger by the time peace threat of invasion led to the Fort. It also has a similarity of in that era. with France and Spain had biggest programme of fortifi- situation with the Isle of Man’s So were noble families like been signed. cation building for centuries. Douglas Fort, which was posi- the Stanleys in the Isle of Man By the mid-1540s it had also The King ordered the draw- tioned on the outcrop known and the Edgcumbes in Corn- been realised that the round ing up of maps of the coastline This little vignette of the vanished Douglas Fort that appears on the title as the Pollock Rock that now wall trying to curry favour tower design was not the best so he could see where forts page of Feltham’s 1798 account of a tour of the Isle of Man is one of the only lies under the the Sea Termi- with the King by building their way to position your cannons should be placed, and the known images of it. It was largely demolished in 1818 nal. own coastal defences, or were for best range of fire, and in state of current fortifications, Although the only images they unofficially directed to do the 17th century the most so- and then via his henchman drafted in to help some de- Portland in , but also of the Douglas Fort to survive so (Edward, Lord of Man was phisticated forts had angu- Thomas Cromwell issued or- signs in the south of England, some impressive examples at are a small vignette on the title clearly in a position close to lar , such as James, ders – known as ‘devices’ – in along with both English and Pendennis and St Mawes on page of Feltham’s 1798 tour of the King where this would be 7th Earl of Derby had built in Parliament to get the work of foreign military architects. either side of the Fal estuary the Isle of Man, and a glimpse possible), or did they feel their his Kerroogarroo Fort at Bal- fort building under way. Italy was seen to be at the in and around Mil- of it in the background of a wa- interests were threatened by lachurry in the English Civil The new forts, though forefront of military technol- ford Haven in , tercolour depicting Douglas the potential of foreign inva- War. He apparently also had a smaller than the castles of ogy, so Italian and German Wales. Bay painted by the visiting art- sion? small, more angular fort built old, were to be constructed treatises on de- In the first wave of fort- ist John ‘Warwick’ Smith from It would be interesting to close to the Derby Fort, though with extra thick walls to resist sign to withstand cannon were building, begun in 1539, many the mid-1790s, it is clear that know where Edward feared traces of that have since disap- enemy gunfire, and openings consulted, such as Niccolo of the larger forts had a round the fort consisted of a small an invasion of the Isle of Man peared. called through Machiavelli’s Libro dell’art del- with supporting bas- round stone keep with flank- might come from – perhaps Some of southern Eng- which cannons and the primi- la guerra, published in 1521, tions, and as well as these ing bastions. from nearby Scotland, which land’s ‘Device Forts’ had later tive and rather hefty firearms and Albrecht Durer’s Befeste- smaller of vary- Its shape resembles that of had a longstanding alliance uses in the Elizabethan era, of the day could be fired. gung der Stett, Schlosz und ing shapes were built. the surviving Castle in with France, or perhaps he Civil War and even the World Many historians believe Felcken. These may have taken their , although lacking thought a foreign force might Wars, with many surviving that Henry took a hand in There were particular lead from the earliest known that building’s architectural aim to capture the island as now as historic sites, while designing some of the forts, concentrations of forts built English defences to be built finesse. a launch pad for an attack on others are succumbing to though the architectural team around the Thames estuary, with use and resistance to northern England. coastal erosion. at were the coast, and cannon fire in mind, those at t seems a rather more Perhaps he thought such By the date of the surviv- Dartmouth in Devon. homespun version, so defences would strengthen ing depictions of it, the Isle of At the end of the 15th and to get an idea of what the island’s traditional ‘Watch Man’s Douglas Fort was be- beginning of the 16th century it was like perhaps we and Ward’ system of lookouts. ing used as a grim makeshift the merchants there – many should turn to south If so, did he invite one of the prison and was said to be in of whom were privateers and west England again, where St military engineers involved poor repair. It was replaced by therefore keen to develop de- Catherine’sI Castle at Fowey in in the official ‘Device Fort’ cells in George Steuart’s new fences against counter raids Cornwall was built at the same programme to have a hand in courthouse and was largely by Breton and French vessels time as the official ‘Device their design – such as Stefan demolished in 1818. on the port’s shipping – had Forts’ but as an initiative of the von Haschenperg, who came However, in photographs built a new round tower, today merchants of the port of Fow- from (now part of the from before the 1880s a sec- known as Dartmouth Castle, ey rather than of . A Czech Republic) and had a tion of whitewashed wall and at the front of an earlier ‘fortal- blockhouse at Devil’s Point on hand in designing forts as far part of the tower seems to still ice’ so that firepower could be Plymouth Sound built by the apart as and Cornwall. have been in existence near directed against enemies try- noble Edgcumbe family at the The walled earth the landward end of the Vic- ing to enter the river mouth. same time as Henry’s official bank built around the of toria Pier, with large lettering At some time in the 1520s ‘Device Forts’ also bears some to help defend advertising such attractions as an additional small stone fort resemblance to the Douglas its walls again in around 1540 Derby Castle painted on them, or blockhouse had been built Fort depictions. has the appearance of engi- presumably to attract the at- further up the River Dart on a It is one of a number of neering finesse about it. tention of arriving steamer large rock next to the quayside blockhouses that were built Peel Castle also had forts passengers. In a photo of 1882 known as Bayard’s Cove. around Plymouth Sound in added to it by Edward, Lord of these too are gone. Any re- This, too, was an initiative around 1540, again not part of Man – such as the round Half mains must now lie under the of the local merchants them- Henry’s official ‘Device Fort’ Moon Battery surviving now Sea Terminal. selves rather than in response programme but showing soli- as a grassy stone base of a tow- However, perhaps Sir Wil- to direction from the crown. darity with it. er. In its day, however, it would liam Hilary had it in mind Edward Stanley, Lord of Man and 3rd Earl of Derby, in a portrait sketch by Although predating the Such blockhouses are be- have had a commanding view when he had the Tower of Hans Holbein. He was close to King Henry VIII, having been the King’s ward Henry VIII ‘Device Forts’, and lieved to have had a ‘crew’ of and range of fire over the sur- Refuge built to look like a mini from the age of 13 being more of a rounded ob- around 10 men, who would rounding coast, and the town castle on a rock in the bay.