Part of Henry VIII's chain of coastal defences to counter a European invasion
A critical element in the improvement of the defences of the south coast by Henry VIII was the protection of the Solent, for this stretch of water gave access to the important ports of Portsmouth and Southampton. Calshot Castle and Hurst Castle were both strategically situated to provide their protection. Calshot was sited on a shingle spit close to the deep water channel at the mouth of Southampton Water. Calshot Castle
Although one of the smaller of Henry VIII's forts, its three-storey keep and outer curtain wall nevertheless gave it full command of its position. Hurst Castle was sited at the narrow entrance to the Solent where the ebb and flow of the tides creates strong currents, putting would-be invaders at its mercy.
350 years later this same advantageous location still gave Calshot great strategic importance and led to its being manned in both the First and Second World Wars. In between, it was closely associated with the Schneider Trophy air races, the competing seaplanes taking off and landing in front of it. It is still a perfect vantage point from which to survey passing boats.
By kjfitz @ 2006-06-04 16:43:40