The fort was built between 1807-1809 to support Landguard fort at Felixstowe on the opposite site of the shore. The fort is an anti-Napoleonic circular fort, measuring about 200ft in diameter with a central parade ground of 85ft in diameter, with 5ft thick walls and with access to a drawbridge over the 20ft dry moat. The fort is sunk into a hill by deep ditches so the walls could not be seen. The fort is similar in concept to Dymchurch and Eastbourne Forts.
The fort was built on a hilltop and the navigation marks of a house called Hill House and a large Elm Tree called the Paines Tree (hollow and used as sometimes used as a shelter) was demolished to make way for the fort. It is thought that French prisoners of war helped to construct the fort. The fort has vaulted barrack buildings to withheld being shelled and the barracks would have accommodated 300 troops if under seize. The fort was armed with 10 24-pounder cannons with a range of up to a mile. Ammunition was lifted by hoists to the guns.
In 1861-2 the fort was re-modelled to accommodate 68-pounder cannons and the emplacement was strengthened to protect against enemy artillery. In 1872, 3 emplacements were remodelled to accommodate 12 ton RML guns and in 1903, 3 emplacements housed 12 pounder QF guns. Even with all the remodelling of the fort, the fort never fired. The land around the fort was bought by the council in the 1920’s and houses were built around the fort, up to the moat and the fort fell into disrepair due to the more powerful Beacon Hill Battery down the coast.
The fort was used a detention centre for British troops during World War II (graffiti can be seen in some areas of the fort done by the soldiers). After the war the fort was used by the British Civil Defence until they dispersed. The restoration of the fort began in July 1969 by Harwich Society. A RML gun dated at c1865 was found buried in the moat, it is thought as it couldn’t be sold for scrap it was pushed into the moat. A survey by UEA students suggests there are 2 more cannons that might be buried within the moat. Harwich Redoubt Fort is the largest Ancient Monument in the UK to be restored by a voluntary group. The fort is now a museum and houses 11 guns. Original fittings include, hoists, Iron railings, a lantern in the magazine room.
Recording of paranormal activity is quite scarce but footsteps are heard, a headless solider is seen and sometimes seen with his head under his arm/shoulder, it is thought during 1872 when the cannons were being lifted into the fort, a hoist broke and fly back and caught the solider and decapitated him. The cells are stated as being active but does not say what type of activity. Noises are heard, being touched, hot and cold spots, apparitions seen through windows.
I personal have been to the fort and here is a brief summary of what happened, blurred photos taken in the Bigod room, by more than one person, Footsteps heard in Jane’s Room. The spirit of a male called John wearing a green uniform. In the Dale Workshop touching on the head was felt and a male presence was felt elsewhere. Even thou activity was low that night, I would go back for another investigation. Paranormal groups have very mixed activity at the fort, from nothing happened to quite a lot happening, it is worth visit day or night.
Copyrighted by Tracy Monger 2012