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CrownHill Fort

Plymouth, Devon

Crownhill Fort is a preserved Victorian fort on the outskirts of Plymouth. It covers a total of 16 acres. There are numerous buildings which contain, Guard rooms, store rooms, sergeants and soldiers quarters, detention rooms, cookhouse, latrine block, cafe and various galleries for firing guns and canons.

Our visit took place during the summer season when they were had visiting re-enactment groups who can fire the guns, canons etc. Some of the buildings have been laid out in Victorian time layouts and are used as gallery halls explaining the history of the place and people who served there.

Crownhill Fort was designed by Capt E F Du Cane for the purpose of defending the Royal Dockyard at Devonport. Its design was at the time, at the forefront of fortress design in both the theory and materials used. It has seven sides all with massive ramparts and surrounded by a deep dry ditch and each flank can be defended by gunfire from projecting caponiers.

The plans were approved in 1863 and building began. In 1866 the building contractor, George Baker, went bankrupt after a strike by his building workers and the work was finished by the Royal Engineers who were the first garrison there. It was completed in 1872 at a cost of 76,409. 1880 saw it being armed with peacetime armaments. Its guns however were never put to the test as advances in artillery overtook it and the fortress became obsolete. It was however retained by the army for over a century and had not suffered any irreversible alterations. It is now in the hands of The Landmark Trust, a preservation charity who rescues and preserves historic buildings and secures their future by letting them out for holidays. You can stay at the Officers Quarters on the south side of the parade ground in an apartment for up to 8 people. 

The Moncrieff Counterweight Disappearing Gun

Crownhill has two concrete pits which were designed to mount the Moncrieff Guns. One of which contains the only example in the world of a counterweight disappearing gun. The gun was designed to stay out of sight below the parapet until it was loaded and ready for firing. This gun works by releasing a brake and then a counterweight elevates the gun to it's firing position. The recoil created by the firing would be sufficient to bring the gun back down to it's loading position. The gun and carriage at the Fort today are replicas, and when demonstrated is done so manually.

These pictures were taken on early digital cameras prior to DSLR's,
 but have been included to show you what was taking place on our visit.

Click on an image to get a larger view

The soldiers who are to operate the gun with the guy on the left commentating on the procedure. The gun being loaded with gun powder.
The gun has now been winched manually into position and ready to fire. Cover your ears, it's loud but quick.
A puff of smoke and its over.

Now the noise and smoke have died down it's time to bring it back to it's loading position. The re-enactment group carrying out manoeuvres and demonstrations.
Soldiers marching onto the parade ground
ready to fire their guns.
Soldiers on the command of their leader
firing their rifles at the same time.
A closer look at firing the rifles,
a lot of noise and what a lot of smoke.

Further information Grid


Crownhill Fort, Plymouth, Devon

Ceremonial County: Devon

Grid Reference:

SX 486590

Map Link:


Aerial photo:

Google Aerial Photo

Multimap Aerial Photo



Best Times to Visit:

Open to the public on selected Open Days and Event weekends only, see their website or phone them for details of opening times and latest events being held for the current year.





Other useful websites:

The Landmark Trust

Wikipedia Info


Nearby Locations:  
Other Relevant pages:  


Earthworks and HillForts

Date Updated: 04/2008


Planning Grid


Crownhill Fort, Plymouth, Devon

Grid Reference:

SX 486590

Getting there:

On the A386 Plymouth to Tavistock road, 4 miles N of Plymouth and 1 mile N off the A38.




Free Car Park adjacent to the Fort, Disabled parking inside the Fort.



Things To Do, See and Photograph:

Earth Ramparts with panoramic views and hidden gun emplacements and many tunnels and passageways. There are 4 fighting levels, 32 gun positions, many containing real working canon. Buildings containing displays of a soldiers life with re-created Victorian and WWII barrack rooms, sergeants quarters and guard room. On open days daily gun firing on the parade ground around lunch time.

What to take:


Nature highlights:



Crownhill Fort

Crownhill Fort Road






Opening times:

Open to the public on selected Open Days and Event weekends only, see their website or phone them for details of opening times and latest events being held for the current year. Is also available for Corporate or Private Events.



Photo Restrictions:


Other Restrictions:  
Special Needs Access: Disabled access is good with toilet facilities and ramps provided to most places.
Special Needs Facilities:  
Children Facilities:  
Dogs Allowed: No

CIN Page Ref:


Date Updated: 04/2008

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