The first Governor and Captain – in 1540 of Deal Castle was Captain Thomas Wingfield, who, formerly (in 1533 & 1536) had been the Member of Parliament for nearby Sandwich. Surveyor of King Henry VIII’s Defence works at Dover in 1536.
Thomas was the eldest son of Sir Henry Wingfield, Governor of Orford Castle and Elizabeth Rookes.
In the first year of Thomas’s governorship, when Anne of Cleves arrived from the continent at Deal Castle, en route to marry Henry VIII, as his 4th wife, Captain Thomas Wingfield was one of six Wingfields ordered to receive her. Thomas’s coat of arms (presented in the 1970s) is displayed in the office of today’s Governor, a retired General.
Thomas Wingfield was a 4-greats uncle of Thomas Wingfield (16 in 1680) of York River, Virginia.
Built by the order of King Henry VIII it is one of the finest Tudor artillery castles in England, and among the earliest and most elaborate of a chain of coastal forts, which also includes Calshot, Camber, Walmer and Pendennis Castles.
Today you can explore the whole of the castle, from the storerooms to the first-floor captain’s residence. A new permanent exhibition is now on display at the castle, revealing how Henry VIII’s fears for the safety and security of his realm shaped the country’s defences and his own married life.
With new displays, audio and children’s activities supported by contemporary artefacts, the whole family can now explore the rich and varied history of the castle alongside the stories of the people who lived and worked there for over four hundred years.
n 1539, Henry VIII’s preparations for war included a huge construction programme of new artillery forts on the south and east coasts of England. Three castles were to protect the vulnerable beaches around Deal and the Downs, an important naval offshore anchorage.
These castles were a response to an invasion threat that resulted from Henry VIII’s foreign policy, particularly his involvement in the struggle between Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor (reigned 1516–56), and Francis I, King of France (r.1515–47). By 1539, Henry’s conduct in his divorce from Catherine of Aragon, in the destruction of monasteries and in taking control of the Church in England, had resulted in their alliance against him, urged on by an enraged Pope.
The Downs castles were completed in October 1540, and by the end of Henry’s reign in 1547 Deal was one of 42 new artillery forts that protected ports, anchorages and estuaries. Those built in the first few years, including Deal, adopted a form that enabled all-round defence, and were planned and built by the staff of Henry’s Works departments. They are beautiful architectural designs, intricately and scientifically planned to concentrate the fire of heavy guns against ships, while also enabling close defence against a land force. Deal Castle had guns mounted in five tiers.
Twenty years after Emily died, Frederick was married to Caroline, daughter of the lst Lord Leigh of Stoneleigh in Warwickshire, and they restored the castle, which had fallen into disrepair. Fifty years after Emily had died, Frederick also died, in 1887.
Of a different note, Broughton Castle has been a favorite for British film productions from 1969 to the present. Features have included ‘Henry VIII and His Six Wives.’ ‘Three Men and a Little Lady,’ ‘The Madness of King George,’ and ‘Shakespeare in Love,’ which included a family cousin whose brother Ralph Fiennes is also a well known actor. Television films made at Broughton Castle include ‘Elizabeth the Virgin Queen’ and ‘Friends and Crocodiles.’ In a 1998 film ‘Shakespeare in Love,’ Broughton Castle is represented as the home of Viola’s (Gwyneth Paltrow’s) parents. The outstanding dance number in that film was performed in “The Great Hall”.