Wednesday, 22 January 2014


Haunted Earth tv are currently filming a new historic documentary with aerial footage at Henry VIII`s fort at Tilbury in Essex.
Taking over two days to shoot, the documentary will focus on it`s early beginnings as a D-shaped blockhouse built in 1539 on a dissolved religious Hermitage, to defend the reaches of the Thames with it`s sister blockhouse based on the Kent embankment at Gravesend.

I know I have the body of a weak, feeble woman;
but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of England too!
His daughter, Elizabeth I made a rallying cry to her English forces against the expected Spanish Armada in 1588 at nearby West Tilbury, with her now famous speech of which part is shared here:

`I know I have the body of a weak, feeble woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of England too, and think foul scorn that Parma or Spain, or any prince of Europe, should dare to invade the borders of my realm; to which rather than any dishonour shall grow by me, I myself will take up arms, I myself will be your general, judge, and rewarder of every one of your virtues in the field.`

Unbeknown then to all was that a small and inferior naval force led by a better strategist, Sir Francis Drake, defeated the much bigger and more powerful Spanish warships at Gravelines, by sinking or routing them with fire ships and cannon which forced them to flee around the coast of Britain with the intent to find another safe route back to their home ports in Spain. Many surviving ships were floundered or sunk in wild and heavy seas off Ireland and the Scottish Isles. This was due in part to their top heavy galleons, which were unsuited for this campaign.

Because of this, and other unstable factors in Europe, the threat of invasion was always uppermost in the minds of English rulers, and over the centuries the fort was much improved and extended.

The current site plan was mostly the work of a brilliant Dutch engineer and settler, Sir Bernard De Gomme.
Under the direction of King Charles II, De Gomme started the construction in 1670, which went slowly through to the 1680`s.

Labour was provided by captured prisoners and military personnel, and during it`s construction many died from work related injuries or the climate which was largely the result of a disease ridden boggy marsh.
To many soldiers, Tilbury Fort was a `short straw` posting, despite it`s close proximity to London.

The area lacked social amenities and proper accommodation, and the risk of illness from the Essex marshes drove many officers to get permission to live opposite in the Kentish town of Gravesend.

The site accommodation consisted of a barrack block for soldiers, and another for officers.
The barrack block was destroyed by a stray Luftwaffe bomb in WW2.

As the fort sat between West Tilbury and Chadwell St Mary, the officers were buried in West Tilbury, and other ranks in the churchyard at Chadwell St Mary.

General Gordon
During the 1860`s the forts at Tilbury and Gravesend were modernised and improved to carry modern heavy ordinance by the then Captain Charles Gordon [1833–85], later known as 'Chinese Gordon or Gordon of Khartoum'.

Despite it`s long military career, the fort never fired it`s heavy cannons in anger, although during WW1 an anti-aircraft gun shot down a Zeppelin on it`s way to bomb the city of London.
In 1950 the fort was decommissioned and is now managed by English Heritage.

Tilbury has many lost souls attached to it`s name. Scottish prisoners from the battle of Culloden were kept here in appalling conditions. Many were held on hulks on the Thames or here in Tilbury Fort, and executions took place in Carlisle, York and Kennington Common.

During the Napoleonic wars, many French prisoners were also housed here or on the `hulk ships` moored in the estuary. Again, many died from the unsanitary conditions offered either on the hulks, (which were old, decommissioned or captured enemy ships that were beyond military service) or died labouring for their captors in the maintenance and improvement of the fort`s defences.

Today, the fort is open to the public with interesting activity of a paranormal kind experienced by visitors or through the infrequent night investigations there.

Indeed some years ago I visited Tilbury and shot a daytime video of my experiences there.

As with all of my work on day shoots, there will be a paranormal section at the end of the documentary.
I`m sure that on part two of my day shoot we may capture some interesting activity.

Mick using camera goggles and controls to fly his quadcopter

Discussing with Mick proposed shooting order for his quadcopter
In this special shoot, we have aerial video footage in HD quality of the
site. The footage was shot by Mick Coulter whose website is: Or other videos he has made on Youtube

Here below are some stills taken from the cam footage which give a new and excellent perspective of this huge defensive site. The video will be used in conjunction with my production, and is something I hope to utilise on future shoots.

The documentary is targeted for completion in February 2014.

Story: Chris Halton

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