Here the Application for Scheduled Monument that I submitted to Historic England last week.
SMC // West Wing Gardens
Archaeological Shelter + Seating and Communal Gardening Area
The proposed structure is located at the western corner of the outer rampart of the West Wing Battery at Fort Burgoyne in Dover. It combines the protection and interpretation of the structural remains of a twentieth century complex with the provision of a public viewing, seating and communal gardening area.
The historic complex was revealed during the evaluation trenching in 2019 and dates most likely from World War II. The elevation and positioning of the structure suggest some sort of surveillance role. Its exact function and date, however, have not been confirmed as yet. Suggested interpretations range from a command/observation post or gun emplacement to an elevated ablutions block.
The archaeological findings comprise a weapon-pit/ dug-out and a series of lined recesses constructed from concrete block walls and paving slabs. The recessed chambers are positioned around a central yard that was originally paved with concrete slabs, many of which have subsequently been removed. Whereas the weapon pit/ dug-out was backfilled at the end of the archaeological survey, the concrete paving slabs, concrete blocks, protruding angle irons and corrugated iron sheeting have been left uncovered for the time being.
The proposed structure consists of a modular, grill-like system of steel frames that protect the historic artefacts whilst leaving them exposed to the public gaze. The new structure carefully traces the plan of the historic complex and the steel frames mark the area of the covered weapon-pit and accentuate the exposed recesses of the rectangular chambers.
As in the historic situation, the area is accessible from the north-eastern side, now connected to a proposed new footpath. Like the other new paths and surfaces, the central yard is covered with a resin bound surface to provide safe and barrier-free access to the public viewing, seating and gardening area. A horizontal steel plate protects the mosaic of broken concrete slabs on top of the existing raised floor of the East Chamber. Two vertical steel sheets, L-shaped in plan and backfilled with sand, cover the remaining corrugated iron sheeting of the original retaining walls.
The lower cross sections of the steel modules are bolted on to an edging strip, level with the new bound surface. The upper sections of the frames rest on the higher datum of the surrounding terrain. Embedded in the existing depression of the western corner of the outer rampart, the structure keeps a low profile. With its maximum height of 30cm above terrain (top edge of the raised planters on the south-eastern side), it does not disturb the silhouette of the battery’s earthworks and overall form.The orange-red anti-corrosion coating refers to the colour palette of the tools used during the archaeological survey and the conservation and stabilisation works.
To encourage future public use and to make the most of the opportunity afforded by the elevation of the site, public benches and raised planters are integrated into the steel structure. Their positioning provides visitors with spectacular views over the West Wing Battery, of Dover Castle, the surrounding landscape and the sea.
The concept for the communal gardening area is inspired by the ‘Herb and Pleasure Garden’ idea that was developed in the ‘Explorers’ community engagement programme in 2019; and by the historical anecdote that one of the camp commanders once used the West Wing Battery as his private garden. The strategic objective of the gardening component is to support the long-term placemaking process at Fort Burgoyne and to contribute to the transformation of the 19th century land front fort into an inclusive, public and recreational place through the acts of horticultural and civic care.
The West Wing Gardens facilitate the opportunity for an active and sustained community engagement. They aim to encourage the future residents of the adjacent Connaught Barracks housing development and other Dover ‘garden guardians’ to take ownership, to cultivate their gardens as well as the surrounding areas, and to help with the maintenance of the West Wing Battery as a whole.
“Mais il faut cultiver notre jardin” (Voltaire, 1759)
Gabor Stark, February 2020
Application for SMC
West Wing Gardens // West Wing Battery, Fort Burgoyne, Dover
Proposal by Gabor Stark
In collaboration with Lee Evans Partnership
Commissioned by The Land Trust