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Yaverland Battery, 660m south of Yaverland Church

A Scheduled Monument in Sandown, Isle of Wight

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Coordinates

Latitude: 50.6638 / 50°39'49"N

Longitude: -1.1307 / 1°7'50"W

OS Eastings: 461537.11063

OS Northings: 85261.89127

OS Grid: SZ615852

Mapcode National: GBR 9DG.8Z6

Mapcode Global: FRA 87JB.1BC

Entry Name: Yaverland Battery, 660m south of Yaverland Church

Scheduled Date: 1 February 2010

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1021443

English Heritage Legacy ID: 28894

County: Isle of Wight

Civil Parish: Sandown

Built-Up Area: Yaverland

Traditional County: Hampshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Isle of Wight

Church of England Parish: Yaverland St John the Baptist

Church of England Diocese: Portsmouth

Details

The monument includes a mid C19 Royal Commission coastal battery situated on
the cliff top approximately 1km south-west of Bembridge Fort on the east
coast of the Isle of Wight.

DESCRIPTION
The battery is broadly triangular, or wedge-shaped, in plan, aligned with the
gun batteries facing south-west and protected in front by a ditch. The ditch
was continued along the other two sides of the triangle to form a gorge,
across which was built a now demolished flat-roofed single-storey barrack
block with accommodation for two officers and 57 men. The two return sides of
the triangle were also protected by a loop-holed brick gorge wall, which
survives only on the north-west side, and a single-storey caponier at each of
the northernmost ends of the ditch. These caponiers and the side ditches no
longer survive. The flat-roofed, Flemish bond, red-brick crab house on the
interior of the north-east end of the surviving gorge wall, where the
original entrance to the battery was positioned, retains the machinery for
raising the drawbridge. The room adjoining this to the south-west is marked
on the original plans as a bread and meat store. Both have stone sills to the
windows and segmental arches to windows and doors. Adjoining this is another
brick lean-to building of a later date containing pumping equipment and part
of the history of the monument.

The south side of the battery was protected by a ditch with an unrevetted
counterscarp which still remains. At the foot of the ditch was a free
standing, loop-holed brick Carnot wall (an additional defence against
infantry attack) with two single-storey caponiers at the ends, also built of
brick with stone surrounds to the musket embrasures, providing enfilade
musket fire along the front ditch and the angled returns. These features
survive well; although a central section of the Carnot wall has been lost and
the remaining sections have been filled-in on their interior side, so that
they now appear as retaining rather than free-standing walls as originally.

The original gun positions for eight 7-inch Rifled Breech Loading (RBL) guns,
replaced by 1879 with 64pr Rifled Muzzle Loading (RML) guns, were sited in
embrasured emplacements on the terreplein with two bomb-proof expense
magazines. These were demolished when the battery was remodelled, except for
the penultimate westernmost emplacement, where there are now the remains of
the brick facing wall of the embrasure parapet and the granite traversing
platform with metal racer tracks. Other foundations may remain under the
topsoil although the profile of the battery was altered during the
remodelling. These gun positions were served by two bomb-proof magazines to
either side and to the rear of the emplacements which have also now gone;
although buried remains may survive. There were also two bomb-proof expense
magazines in the gun positions which have also gone.

North of the site of the original gun position, and adjoining the surviving
1860s emplacement at the western end, are the concrete emplacements for three
6-inch breech-loading Mark VII guns which replaced the original gun positions
from 1898. These were oriented at a slightly different angle to fire more to
the east and survive in good condition including the steel bolts in the floor
for the gun mountings. Below the emplacements are the two magazines which
served them. The brick vaulted structures, possibly containing reused
material from the original magazines, include the machinery for three hoists,
one vertical and two oblique, which supplied ammunition to the emplacements
above, as well as lamp recesses, ammunition hatches and traces of original
stencilled signage.

HISTORY
Yaverland battery was constructed between April 1861 and March 1864 under the
direction of Captain William Crossman, Royal Engineers and was one of three
batteries recommended by the 1859 Royal Commission on the Defences of the
United Kingdom, along with Sandown Barrack and Redcliffe, to protect against
landings in Sandown Bay. These batteries formed a defense system together
with Sandown and Bembridge Forts. Designed as an open (rather than casemated)
battery, due to the elevated position on the cliff top, its armament went
through several changes. The original eight 7-inch RBL guns were replaced by
eight 64pr RML guns before 1879 and these were reduced to seven mounted on
6ft parapet slides by 1892. In 1888 an earthen traverse was constructed
directly to the east of the battery to protect against enfilade fire from
gunboats from the lea of Culver Cliff. This has now gone. Between 1898 and
1900 the battery was remodelled at a cost of £6,131. This involved the
demolition of the 1860s emplacements with the land in front of the guns
rescarped to a lower profile. The new concrete barbette emplacements for
three 6-inch BL Mark VII guns were re-angled, again to prevent enfilade fire
from the vicinity of Culver Cliff. During World War I, in 1915, the battery
was reduced to two guns and defended by two machine-guns and barbed wire.
During the 1920s two searchlights were installed in concrete shelters near
water level for night practice. In the 1930s it became the Coastal Artillery
Experimental Establishment and was the first test site nationally for the
Quick-Fire (QF) twin 6-pdr in 1936. During World War II the battery was
mainly used as a searchlight position although the battery was reactivated in
April 1943 when two 6-inch BL Mark VII guns were reinstalled and manned by
the Home Guard. The site was decommissioned in 1956 and the land sold and
developed as a holiday centre.
To the east of the battery on the cliff top is a metal foundation plate,
probably for a World War II searchlight battery and the entrance to an
underground Cold War Royal Observation Corps (ROC) post opened in 1962. These
are not included in the scheduling. It should be noted that The monument
includes a mid C19 Royal Commission coastal battery situated on the cliff top
approximately 1km south-west of Bembridge Fort on the east coast of the Isle
of Wight.

DESCRIPTION
The battery is broadly triangular, or wedge-shaped, in plan, aligned with the
gun batteries facing south-west and protected in front by a ditch. The ditch
was continued along the other two sides of the triangle to form a gorge,
across which was built a now demolished flat-roofed single-storey barrack
block with accommodation for two officers and 57 men. The two return sides of
the triangle were also protected by a loop-holed brick gorge wall, which
survives only on the north-west side, and a single-storey caponier at each of
the northernmost ends of the ditch. These caponiers and the side ditches no
longer survive. The flat-roofed, Flemish bond, red-brick crab house on the
interior of the north-east end of the surviving gorge wall, where the
original entrance to the battery was positioned, retains the machinery for
raising the drawbridge. The room adjoining this to the south-west is marked
on the original plans as a bread and meat store. Both have stone sills to the
windows and segmental arches to windows and doors. Adjoining this is another
brick lean-to building of a later date containing pumping equipment and part
of the history of the monument.

The south side of the battery was protected by a ditch with an unrevetted
counterscarp which still remains. At the foot of the ditch was a free
standing, loop-holed brick Carnot wall (an additional defence against
infantry attack) with two single-storey caponiers at the ends, also built of
brick with stone surrounds to the musket embrasures, providing enfilade
musket fire along the front ditch and the angled returns. These features
survive well; although a central section of the Carnot wall has been lost and
the remaining sections have been filled-in on their interior side, so that
they now appear as retaining rather than free-standing walls as originally.

The original gun positions for eight 7-inch Rifled Breech Loading (RBL) guns,
replaced by 1879 with 64pr Rifled Muzzle Loading (RML) guns, were sited in
embrasured emplacements on the terreplein with two bomb-proof expense
magazines. These were demolished when the battery was remodelled, except for
the penultimate westernmost emplacement, where there are now the remains of
the brick facing wall of the embrasure parapet and the granite traversing
platform with metal racer tracks. Other foundations may remain under the
topsoil although the profile of the battery was altered during the
remodelling. These gun positions were served by two bomb-proof magazines to
either side and to the rear of the emplacements which have also now gone;
although buried remains may survive. There were also two bomb-proof expense
magazines in the gun positions which have also gone.

North of the site of the original gun position, and adjoining the surviving
1860s emplacement at the western end, are the concrete emplacements for three
6-inch breech-loading Mark VII guns which replaced the original gun positions
from 1898. These were oriented at a slightly different angle to fire more to
the east and survive in good condition including the steel bolts in the floor
for the gun mountings. Below the emplacements are the two magazines which
served them. The brick vaulted structures, possibly containing reused
material from the original magazines, include the machinery for three hoists,
one vertical and two oblique, which supplied ammunition to the emplacements
above, as well as lamp recesses, ammunition hatches and traces of original
stencilled signage.

HISTORY
Yaverland battery was constructed between April 1861 and March 1864 under the
direction of Captain William Crossman, Royal Engineers and was one of three
batteries recommended by the 1859 Royal Commission on the Defences of the
United Kingdom, along with Sandown Barrack and Redcliffe, to protect against
landings in Sandown Bay. These batteries formed a defense system together
with Sandown and Bembridge Forts. Designed as an open (rather than casemated)
battery, due to the elevated position on the cliff top, its armament went
through several changes. The original eight 7-inch RBL guns were replaced by
eight 64pr RML guns before 1879 and these were reduced to seven mounted on
6ft parapet slides by 1892. In 1888 an earthen traverse was constructed
directly to the east of the battery to protect against enfilade fire from
gunboats from the lea of Culver Cliff. This has now gone. Between 1898 and
1900 the battery was remodelled at a cost of £6,131. This involved the
demolition of the 1860s emplacements with the land in front of the guns
rescarped to a lower profile. The new concrete barbette emplacements for
three 6-inch BL Mark VII guns were re-angled, again to prevent enfilade fire
from the vicinity of Culver Cliff. During World War I, in 1915, the battery
was reduced to two guns and defended by two machine-guns and barbed wire.
During the 1920s two searchlights were installed in concrete shelters near
water level for night practice. In the 1930s it became the Coastal Artillery
Experimental Establishment and was the first test site nationally for the
Quick-Fire (QF) twin 6-pdr in 1936. During World War II the battery was
mainly used as a searchlight position although the battery was reactivated in
April 1943 when two 6-inch BL Mark VII guns were reinstalled and manned by
the Home Guard. The site was decommissioned in 1956 and the land sold and
developed as a holiday centre.
To the east of the battery on the cliff top is a metal foundation plate,
probably for a World War II searchlight battery and the entrance to an
underground Cold War Royal Observation Corps (ROC) post opened in 1962. These
are not included in the scheduling. It should be noted that the battery gun
emplacements and ditch were machine stripped and excavated in 2008.

EXCLUSIONS
The brick planter adjoining the north-east wall of the guardroom, wooden post
and rail fencing along the top of the inner face of the ditch and all
telegraph poles are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath
all these features is included.

SOURCES
Hogg, Ian V - Coast Defences of England & Wales 1856-1956 (1974)
Saunders, Andrew - Channel Defences (1997)
Cantwell, Anthony & Sprack, Peter - 'The Sandown Bay Defences' Fortress 7 pp
51-59 (1990)
Web site of the Palmerston Forts Society: www.palmerstonforts.org.uk -
(Accessed May 2009)

Plans
PRO MR 1/1850/20 and 22
PRO WO 78/2625 and 5029
PRO WO 192/282
PRO WORK 43/346 and 352




MAP EXTRACT
The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

The Royal Commission fortifications are a group of related sites established
in response to the 1859 Royal Commission report on the defence of the United
Kingdom. This had been set up following an invasion scare caused by the
strengthening of the French Navy.
These fortifications represented the largest maritime defence programme since
the initiative of Henry VIII in 1539-40. The programme built upon the
defensive works already begun at Plymouth and elsewhere and recommended the
improvement of existing fortifications as well as the construction of new
ones.
There were eventually some 70 forts and batteries in England which were due
wholly or in part to the Royal Commission. These constitute a well defined
group with common design characteristics, armament and defensive provisions.
Whether reused or not during the 20th century, they are the most visible core
of Britain's coastal defence systems and are known colloquially as
`Palmerston's follies'. All examples are considered of national importance.

The essential elements of Yaverland Battery survive extremely well and it
remains a good example of a Royal Commission open battery. The front ditch,
gorge, Carnot walls and southern caponiers survive in good condition.
Although the original gun positions were, with one exception, removed during
the remodelling of the battery in the late 1890s (as were, at that time or
subsequently, the original magazines, barrack block and northern caponiers),
the remodelled 1890s gun positions and magazines survive particularly well.
They retain the remains of shell hoists, lamp recesses, ammunition hatches
and signage. Together with contemporary documentary sources relating to the
battery, the remains will offer an insight into late C19 military
architecture, engineering practices and strategy. A number of other
Palmerston forts and batteries have been scheduled on the Isle of Wight;
Bembridge Fort; Golden Hill Fort; Sandown Barrack Battery; Lower Needles
Point Battery; Puckpool Mortar Battery. Yaverland Battery expands our
understanding of this period in the defence of England, and of the Isle of
Wight in particular.

Source: Historic England

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