Wessex Attractions: Bembridge Fort

Bembridge Fort, on the Isle of Wight, is an example of what is known as a Palmerston folly. Ordered by Lord Palmerston, prime minister from 1855 to 1858, and again from 1859 to 1865, these were a series of forts on England’s Channel coast designed to defend Britain from a threatened French invasion that never materialised.

The fort finally saw service during both world wars, but gradually fell into disrepair until it came into the possession of the National Trust in 1967. In 2011 Trust volunteers uncovered the gun racers at the top of the fort, which gave them some insight into how the guns were moved, and their line of sight.

The surrounding downs offer spectacular views, with excellent birdwatching, as birds of prey use the chalk cliffs as a vantage point.

The fort is currently not taking bookings for tours, as the Trust finalises its plans for 2024. The postcode is PO36 8QY. Southern Vectis buses 8 and 71, and the open-top Island Coaster service pass nearby, and Brading Station on the Island Line is about a mile away.

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