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Begun during the Napoleonic Wars and completed in the 1860s, the vast defences of Western Heights were designed to protect Dover from French invasion.
Plans to fortify the hills above Dover were drawn up after war broke out with France in 1778. Standing on the Western Heights today, looking at the sweeping views over the town, harbour and castle and, on a fine day, the clear silhouette of the French coast, it is easy to understand why military planners saw the need to embark on this huge project.
The English Heritage properties – which form only a part of the extensive network of fortifications – are situated on the north side of the hill. They include the North Centre Bastion and the Drop Redoubt. ‘Redoubt’ means detached fort, and ‘The Drop’ was the name formerly given to the area in which it is situated.
Today there is no access to the fortifications, but it is possible to view the Drop Redoubt and the brick-lined ditches from adjacent footpaths.
In parts the defences are overgrown, but it is still possible to gain a good impression of the enormous scale and complexity of this defensive project.