Tilbury Fort – Tilbury, England - Atlas Obscura
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Tilbury, England

Tilbury Fort

This star-shaped artillery fort protected the mouth of the Thames from the 16th century to the Second World War.  

This amazingly well-preserved artillery fort hunkers down on the banks of the Thames estuary, looking across the river to Gravesend in one direction and across the Essex marshes in the other.

For military history buffs, Tilbury Fort is a fascinating chance to look at naval defenses from the Tudor era to modern times, with intact gunpowder storage rooms, moats, cannon, officers houses, and all the trimmings. 

The fort was built on top of an earlier Tudor site and was used continuously until just after World War II. Queen Elizabeth I delivered her famous “Speech to the Troops” here in 1588 during the Spanish invasion, so it has a special place in England’s history.

Kids (big and small) will love roaming this huge atmospheric site, running through tunnels in the massive walls, climbing on the gun mounts and imagining themselves in defense of the realm!

For a little extra atmosphere, park in Gravesend over the river and catch the foot ferry across the water to the fort, then stop for a swift pint in the appropriately named World’s End pub. The slightly decaying industrial landscape of the Tilbury waterfront is almost otherworldy. 

Know Before You Go

The site is managed by English Heritage. All access details etc. are published on their website. The grassy, upper observation terraces are a wonderful place for a picnic on a sunny day. Parking in Gravesend over the river gives the bonus opportunity of visiting the site of Pocahontas' grave and the statue dedicated to her. Tilbury is close to London, just off the M25. The fort is also accessible by train, bus, and the National Cycle network.