Crownhill Fort

Plymouth, Devon

Overview

Built in the 1860s to protect Plymouth from attack, Crownhill Fort retains its tunnels, earth ramparts, parade ground and cannons. 

 

  • CotCot
  • Fire or StoveFire or Stove
  • Open SpaceOpen Space
  • Parking AvailableParking Available
  • BathBath
  • DishwasherDishwasher
  • ShowerShower
  • Waitrose DeliveryWaitrose Delivery

Beds 1 Twin, 1 room 4 beds, 1 Double

Sleeps
8
4 nights
£446 equivalent to £13.94 per person, per night

Part of a Victorian fort building boom

In the 1860s it was decided to protect naval bases, such as Plymouth, from attack by land as well as by sea. A chain of forts was built, with Crownhill in the key position to the north of the city. It is now one of only two large forts of this kind in the country to remain in good condition.

From a distance, the fort blends with the hilltop, defended not by walls but by steep earth ramparts. These enfold the central parade ground, around which are handsome quarters for up to 300 men. For further protection, the buildings and many of the emplacements for 32 large guns have turf roofs, some restored by us.

Outside the ramparts is a deep dry ditch, 30 feet wide at the bottom, which could be covered by protective fire from a chemin de ronde and six three-storey covered defensive structures called Caponiers, reached from inside the Fort by tunnels. Since acquiring the fort in 1987 we have done major work to grounds, weaponry and buildings, many of which are now let to small businesses.

In 1995 the fort was opened to the public for the first time; and in 1998 it was once more armed with a Moncrieff Disappearing Gun, one of only two working examples in the world.

Officers' Quarters

Crownhill fascinates the enthusiast and the novice alike. It is also a remarkably pleasant place to be. The Officers’ Quarters, in which you stay, face south. The kitchen has a large window and a commanding view of the comings and goings. Above all, you have free run of this spectacular structure of stone and earth.

Find out about other activities at Crownhill Fort.

‘Amy counted the bricks in the ceiling of the far bedroom - 2987.’

From the logbook

Floor Plan

Map & local info

An oasis of peace and quiet on the Northern side of the city of Plymouth, Crownhill Fort is a spectacular structure of stone and earth and enjoys wonderful far-reaching views towards Dartmoor and the sea.

Plymouth and its surrounding area is brimming with things to see and do. The famous Plymouth Hoe and Smeatons tower is well worth a visit. 

The Naval Base Museum and Royal William Yard Harbour brings this historic sea city alive in a fun and active way which all the family will enjoy. 

Other nearby museums include Cotehele (14.3 miles) and the Ashburton Museum (24.4 miles). You can gain free entry to both with a National Art Pass, which enables its members to enjoy free entry to over 240 museums, galleries and historic houses throughout the UK as well as 50% off entry to major exhibitions.

The pass is presented by one of Landmark's partners, the Art Fund, the national fundraising charity for art, which has been supporting museums and galleries for over 110 years by helping them to buy and display great works of art for everyone to enjoy. Income raised through the National Art Pass goes straight back into their charitable programme. Find more about it at artfund.org/national-art-pass.

Children and adults alike will love National Marine Aquarium, it is perfect for a wet weather day. Look out for special events, such as their shark sleepover in the summer. 

Saltram House is a great day out just outside the city, and on a main cycle route if you wish to explore further. 

Crownhill Fort is ideally situated for exploring the many restaurants and cafes in Plymouth, including the recommended Tanners Restaurant

For more ideas for things to see and do duing your stay at Crownhill Fort, take a look at our Pinterest Map

Please Note: The Landmark Trust does not take any responsibility and makes no warranties, representations or undertakings about the content of any website accessed by hypertext link. Links should not be taken as an endorsement of any kind. The Landmark Trust has no control over the availability of the linked pages.

Clear directions
FAQs

Your questions answered

    What you need to know about this building

  • Does the property allow dogs?

    No.
  • How is the property accessed?

    Via a tarmac / gravel entrance from the main road.
  • What is the nearest railway station and how far away is it?

    Plymouth – 3 miles.
  • Is there car parking specifically for Landmark guests?

    There are three parking spaces on the parade ground approximately 20m from the Landmark.
  • What type of heating does the property have?

    There is central heating and an open fire.
  • How can I get fuel for the open fire or stove?

    Unfortunately, there is no arrangement for the purchase and delivery of logs, however details of local sources will be provided with your order confirmation.
  • What are the kitchen facilities?

    The kitchen is fully equipped with all plates, cutlery, fridge etc. There is also an electric cooker and a dishwasher.
  • What are the bathroom facilities?

    There are two bathrooms, one with a free-standing shower unit and a bath and the other with a bath.
  • Does this Landmark have steep, narrow or spiral stairs?

    No – no internal stairs.
  • Is there a garden or outside space?

    You are free to walk on the ramparts of the Fort; however, there are very steep drops from the sides and many uneven surfaces. There is a public footpath which runs around the perimeter of the Fort.

    Booking and Payment

  • What happens if I can’t get to the Landmark due to bad weather?

    If the weather is bad, please contact our booking office who will be able to tell you whether the Landmark is accessible. If the housekeeper can safely get to the building to prepare it then we consider that it is open and available for guests. However if we cannot undertake a changeover then we will do our utmost to transfer your stay to another Landmark, depending on what we have available. It may not be of a similar size or in the same part of the country as your original booking. If the building is accessible but the customer cannot travel due to poor weather in his/her local area then please be aware that Landmark will not provide a refund. However the customer may be able to claim on his/her own travel insurance. We recommend that all guests take out travel insurance when they first secure a booking.
  • How can I pay?

    We accept Maestro (if issued in the UK), Visa, MasterCard, direct transfer and sterling cheques drawn on a UK bank. Cheques should be made payable to the Landmark Trust except for Lundy stays and boat/helicopter tickets which should be payable to The Lundy Company Ltd. All payments must be in sterling.
  • How do I create an account?

    If you have not used the Landmark online booking facility before and you wish to register in advance, you can set up an on-line account by following the instructions below:

    Go to the Landmark home page and click on Gift shop (located at the top of the home page in red).

    Select a gift (e.g. Landmark Handbook or Anniversary Mug) and complete the ‘Amount required’ box. There is no need to complete the purchase but this step is necessary in order to bring up the registration page.

    Click ‘Next Step’ at the bottom of the page.

    This will bring you to the ‘Your details’ page.

    Please complete all the fields (name, address, contact details and create an account). Click on the green ‘Create Account’ button once you have finished.

    At the top of the page headed ‘Your details’ there will be a grey box saying ‘Signed in’ and underneath this it will say ‘you are currently signed in as ….

    Here you will also have the option to ‘Sign out’. Please do so and that is your registration completed.

    Please return to the Landmark home page.

    To check your registration or update your account details at any time please ‘Sign in’ using the icon in the top right-hand corner of the home page.

    If you experience any problems in registering or setting up your on-line account please contact webmaster@landmarktrust.org.uk.
  • How do I pick up the key?

    There are various arrangements for picking up keys. To arrange to get into the Landmark, please contact the housekeeper at least two days before your stay
  • Can I pay a deposit?

    If your stay starts more than three months from the date you make the booking, you are required to pay a deposit of one third of the cost of your stay (or £100 per booking, if greater) at the time of booking. Camping on Lundy must be paid for in full at the time of booking.
  • How can I cancel or change my booking?

    If you wish to cancel or change your booking, please contact our Booking Office on 01628 825925
  • Do you accept payment in other currencies?

    At the moment we only accept payment in sterling.
  • What if I arrive late?

    Please let the housekeeper know if you are going to arrive late and s/he will leave a key for you in a suitable place.
  • How far in advance do I need to book?

    It depends. Some of our most popular Landmarks are booked up a long time in advance, but many can be booked at short notice. We will always have Landmarks free for the coming weekend so it’s always worth checking our availability list.
  • Do you have to be a member to book a Landmark?

    No, Landmarks are available to be booked for anyone.
  • Do I need a Handbook to be able to book?

    No, all the information you need can be found on our website, although we’d like you to buy one anyway as it will be a pleasure to own!

    Staying at a Landmark

  • Are Landmarks accessible for people with disabilities or limited mobility?

    Some of our Landmarks are suitable for people with disabilities or limited mobility. However, many Landmarks have steep or narrow staircases, uneven floors and thresholds, changes of level, low ceilings or beams, as well as indistinct colours on steps and in corridors. We recommend that you call Booking Enquiries on 01628 825925 if you would like to find out the suitability of a particular Landmark for anyone with a specific disability.
  • Are Landmarks only available as self-catering accommodation?

    Yes, Landmarks are only available as self-catering accommodation. We do not offer bed and breakfast.
  • Do you provide catering?

    Landmark does not provide catering, but we can recommend Greycoat Lumleys who can arrange for expert and well-trained staff to cater for one evening or for your entire holiday. Their cooks and chefs are able to work with you to meet your specific requirements
  • Do you allow dogs?

    You may bring up to two dogs to properties where dogs are allowed (please see specific property details for exemptions however dogs are not permitted on Lundy except assistance dogs). They must be kept off the furniture and under proper control.
  • Can I bring a pet?

    Apart from two dogs (see above) no other pets are permitted.
  • What time can I arrive and what time do I have to depart from the Landmark?

    Arrival is from 4pm and departure is by 10am.
  • Am I insured if I break something?

    We do not carry insurance for breakages. However we appreciate that accidents do sometimes happen. If you have a breakage during your stay, please let the housekeeper know and if appropriate we reserve the right to invoice you accordingly.
  • Are Landmarks suitable for children?

    Yes, most of our Landmarks are perfect for children, with gardens to play in and secret places to discover. Our furniture is surprisingly robust and we positively encourage families to stay. However, some of our buildings may not be suitable for small children; for example, some of them have steep or uneven spiral staircases. We recommend that you call the Booking Enquiries team if you would like to find out the suitability of any of our Landmarks for young children.
  • Can I get married in a Landmark?

    Unfortunately, most of our Landmarks are not licensed for weddings. However, you may get married on Lundy.
  • Can I hold a big party in a Landmark?

    All our larger Landmarks are perfect for gatherings of family or friends. You may invite an additional two guests to visit you during your stay, however they must not stay overnight. This is very important because our fire regulations specifically note the maximum number of people in any one building. In addition our properties are prepared, furnished and equipped for the number of people specified and greater numbers cause damage and excessive wear and tear to vulnerable buildings. Should this condition be ignored we shall make a retrospective charge per person per day (whether or not they stay overnight) for each guest over the permitted limit, the charge being pro-rated on the total cost of your booking.
  • Are there televisions in the buildings?

    We deliberately do not provide televisions and find that most people appreciate this.
  • Why are your access tracks sometimes difficult?

    One of the challenges of restoring unloved buildings is gaining access to them. We frequently have to negotiate rights with our neighbours and share tracks with them. In many cases tracks do not belong to us and we have no right to maintain them. Wherever possible we work with our neighbours to provide you with a good quality surface, but where this is a problem then you will be warned at the time of booking.
  • Will there be sockets for my electrical appliances?

    Yes, we have standard electricity sockets for UK appliances. If you are coming from outside the UK, you will need to bring your own adaptor plug(s). If you are visiting one of our European properties we have standard European electricity sockets. If you are visting from the UK, you will need to bring your own adapter plug (s).

    Facilities

  • Are the kitchens and bathrooms restored to a modern standard?

    Sometimes our kitchens and bathrooms have to be imaginatively fitted into the available space in buildings where before there were none, but they are all planned and equipped to a high and modern standard.
  • Is linen provided?

    Yes, Landmarks are fully equipped with sheets and towels. All the beds are fully made up for your arrival.
  • Are the kitchens fully equipped?

    Yes, our kitchens are well equipped with cookers and fridges. There are freezers and dishwashers (in larger buildings) and, where space allows, microwaves as well as a wide and standard range of utensils. A full equipment list is available at time of booking.
  • Do you provide logs for the open fire/stove?

    Logs are provided at many of our Landmarks for an additional cost.
  • Will there be a mobile signal in the Landmark I book?

    Mobile coverage varies. Some Landmarks have an excellent signal, but others have none at all. If you are concerned, you can check with the housekeeper before your arrival.
  • Is there Wi-Fi in your buildings?

    No. At the moment, we have decided not to implement Wi-Fi in our buildings following a consultation with our customers. Many said that they would find it useful, but many also felt that it would somehow damage the experience of staying in a Landmark. As the responses were so split, and as we have so many other initiatives requiring funding, we have decided to put this on hold for the time being.
  • What should I bring with me? Are there toilet rolls, soap, shampoo, milk, teabags, coffee, hairdryer?

    A welcome tray with tea and sugar awaits your arrival and you will find a pint of milk in the fridge. We also provide toilet rolls and a bar of soap per basin, but no other toiletries. We do not provide hairdryers.
History

One of the most important of the forts built to defend Plymouth

As early as 1868, when construction was still in progress, Crownhill Fort was considered the most important of the forts built to defend the Plymouth naval base. Today it is equally important, though for reasons of history rather than defence. Unlike the Victorian defences of Portsmouth, which are well cared for and accessible to the public, many of the Plymouth forts have been damaged by conversion to a variety of private uses. Only Crownhill Fort has survived in anything like its original form.

In 1987 the Landmark Trust, an architectural restoration charity, recognised the importance of Crownhill Fort and, wishing to give it a secure future, purchased it from the Ministry of Defence. The Trust's intention was not only to ensure the Fort's preservation and to restore its original layout as far as possible, but also to open it to visitors so that they might learn and profit from the experience.

Crownhill Fort, the largest, most advanced, and least altered of Plymouth's 19th century forts, commands one of the highest points in the city yet is surprisingly inconspicuous. Though covering 16 acres and surrounded by a broad, deep ditch hewn from bedrock, the fort appears from only a short distance to be nothing but a forested hilltop. There are, however, four fighting levels with placements for 32 cannons and six mortars, nearly a half mile of tunnels, and accommodation for 300 soldiers and officers concealed within it.

Crownhill Fort was the key to the North-East Defences of Plymouth which stretched from the Tamar River in the west to the Cattewater in the east and included nine other forts and batteries and one keep in between. It was built as part of the largest fortress building boom in British history against the perceived threat of French invasion. There were mutual feelings of fear and distrust between the two nations and after France launched the armoured steam frigate "La Gloire" in 1858, the British Navy's ability to defend the country was seen to be gravely threatened.

Steam power had greatly improved the accuracy and range for artillery. The adoption of explosive shells, combined with ironclad ships reduced the effectiveness of existing defences. The Channel had been an obstacle to sailing ships, but by mid-century was 'nothing more than a river passable by a steam bridge.' In 1859, the Prime Minister, Lord Palmerston, responded to the alarm from a Royal Commission report on the defences of the United Kingdom.

The commission called for a massive fortress building programme to protect dockyards and strategic harbours at an estimated cost of £111,850,000. Parliament reduced the scales of the undertaking but nonetheless by 1867, 76 forts and batteries had been built or were under construction around the principal naval ports of Britain. Over £3,000,000 was spent on the Plymouth defences alone, with Crownhill Fort construction costing £76,000.

Crownhill Fort, along with the rest of the North-East Defences, was designed by Captain (later Major General) Edmund DuCane who also designed Staddon Fort and, with Captain William Crossman, Tregantle Fort. The great advances in military technology enabled them to break from the centuries old practice of continuous line defences. Each of the forts was designed as a polygon surrounded by a ditch which itself was protected by caponiers (powerful, casemated structures which provided flanking fire across the ditch). Guns, sometimes in casemates, lined the tops of the ramparts and the barrack blocks within were made bomb-proof by the use of mounded earth.

From its completion in 1872 until 1986, Crownhill Fort was under continuous military occupation. Various gun pits remain from World War II and the fort was used as an assembly point by forces leaving for the Falklands War.

For a short history of Crownhill Fort please click here.

To read the full history album for Crownhill Fort please click here.

Restoration

Re-opening the grounds

After acquiring the fort in 1987 The Landmark Trust was primarily concerned with the restoration of the grounds. Over the years changing uses, and indeed lack of use in some cases, led to blockage of pathways and tunnels and altered levels at various points. The covered way and chemin des rondes (the paths around the outside and inside of the ditch respectively) which were badly overgrown and impassable were cleared and re-opened. There is now a public walknearly two-thirds of a mile long right round the outside.

Rifle ranges dating to the 1930s and a post-World War II commando assault course were removed from the ditch and the original levels restored. Modern buildings around the parade ground were demolished and hundreds of yards of tunnels were limewashed.

More recently, attention has been turned to the buildings. Several of these are now let to local businesses for storage and office space. In the Soldiers’ and Officers’ Quarters, doors and windows have been repaired and air vents unblocked and their earth roofs replaced and you can now stay in accommodation created in the Officers’ Quarters.

Availability & booking

Select a changeover day to start your booking...

What's a changeover day? and Why can't I select other dates?Explain MoreQuestion

A changeover day is a particular day of the week when holidays start and end at our properties. These tend to be on a Friday or a Monday but can sometimes vary. All stays run from one changeover day until another changeover day.