"In the end, it's not the years in your life that count, it's the life in your years." - Abraham Lincoln

Posted on March 6, 2017 by Sioux under General
1 Comment


St Mary in Castro, or St Mary de Castro, is a church in the grounds of Dover Castle. It is a heavily restored Saxon structure, built next to a Roman lighthouse which later became the church bell-tower. St Mary serves the local population and the army, and is the church of the Dover Garrison.


There are records of a church being built within the castle in the 630’s. However, it is unclear whether this means within the Saxon burgh (usually dated to later than 630) on the Eastern Heights, or within the ruins of old Roman fortifications in the valley.


The late-Saxon cemetery around the present church does suggest the existence of a c.600 church. The Dover Castle Statutes of 1267 on display in Saint Mary in Castro offer insight into life in Dover Castle during the medieval age. The Statutes demand order and discipline from the guards, with heavy penalties imposed on any who swear or brawl; laying out explicit plans for ceremonies, religious or otherwise, and the ringing of bells; as well as specific procedures for deaths and festivals.


The old Roman lighthouse, situated next to the church of St Mary de Castro in the castle grounds is one of two lighthouses, each called the Pharos. The 24m high construction was built by the Romans soon after they arrived in Britain, the building date estimated as being between 50 – 138AD. The stone towers were used as beacons to guide the Roman navy across the English Channel. Nearly two thousand years old, it’s the tallest surviving Roman building north of the Italian Alps that’s still standing. 

IMG_1825 LR (1 of 1)
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IMG_1905 LR sealed saxon doorway (1 of 1)
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IMG_1908 LR (1 of 1)
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IMG_1904 LR (1 of 1)

Looking up inside the Roman lighthouse, which has been adapted for use as the bell tower for the St Mary de Castro church.   

An old Saxon entrance to the church which has been boarded up.


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One response to “Day tripping #5 – Dover Castle – the church”

  1. Chez says:

    Oh my word! they knew how to build didn’t they! Fascinating!

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