Located in Medway of south east England, the Amherst fort was built to protect the city from French invasion. The Chatham’s fort is now considered amongst the top haunted destinations in Kent. To know the spooky happenings associated with the haunted Amherst fort, we visited some of the creepiest sections of it. Don’t forget to wade through these sections during your ghost hunt to this fort.
The following visit was a tour of over half a mile of darkened tunnels 20 meters underground lit only by the flickering of lanterns. The tunnels main use was to serve the gun emplacements in the hillside covering the section of the main ditch that ran from the river Medway in Chatham on up and over the hillside towards Gillingham. These gun emplacements were inside on two levels (lower & upper gun floors).
The tunnels are some 2,500 feet in length (750M) and approximately 20m or 60 odd feet below ground level. Contained within the system are a number of rooms and differing passages all lit and safe to explore. The only exception is during the evening tours when you are guided around in the dark by a single guide and lantern. The acclaimed “ghost tours”!
The main magazine held 1,000 barrels or 45 tonnes of gun powder which was stored in barrels similar to those on display. The fittings on the barrels were made of copper to prevent sparks. Huge Cavity walls with tunnels and a wooden suspended floor with air vents prevented the build up of damp. The lobby at the front of this magazine allowed for the manoeuvring of barrels and for changing into wollen magazine clothing.
Secret Fort Amherst – The Caponier
The Caponier defends part of the ditch system surrounding Amherst Redoubt. The central gun port has been opened out (possibly pre war) to allow access.
Inside the Caponier tunnels lead left and right. To the right is a long passage sloping upwards leading to the interior of Amherst Redoubt. Unfortunately in the 1960’s Amherst Redoubt was demolished all tunnels were deliberately collapsed and sealed. Therefore although worth exploring the tunnel does not go very far. To the right is a stairway leading up to the surface works. Again this doorway is sealed.
Inside the Caponier are musket loops firing into both sides of the ditch thereby serving the true purpose of the Caponier.
Secret Fort Amherst – Prince Willam Barracks
These impressive casemated barracks overlook the town of Chatham. All flooring was removed in the 1950’s and very few original fittings remain. The barracks seem to have been built into an original ditch. There would have been a well close by and latrines, the location of these are lost. Because the Fort and the Cumberland Lines completely encircled the Dockyard, and the town of Brompton, there was little need for barrack accommodation on the Fort. Soldiers were quartered in the nearby Artillery, Infantry and Marine Barracks. So Prince Williams Barracks must have been just for the few poor souls forced to guard the Lines.
In the WWII a small AA gun was installed on the roof of the Barracks and some evidence of this remains.
Areas Currently Closed to the Public
The Sunken Courtyard – is a very logical name for this part of the Fort, however it is in fact the entrance to flanking galleries providing firing positions into Prince William’s Ditch.
This area is the least restored (and explored) there may be many underground passages leading from these buildings. The Fort did not come with plans and maps, so future restoration may uncover some interesting features.
This passage leads from the main casemates to the side flanking galleries. Entry and exit is through this tunnel. The sunken Courtyard is just one of the interesting areas not currently open to the public (due to health & safety) however usually once a year, the undergrowth is cleared and paths made safe, lighting installed, and signs erected to allow an All Site Opening weekend.
Only limited sections of these tunnels are open to the public, and the tour only lasts about 45 mins, and takes you through the main entrance, all the way up to the main stairs and outside at the top where you can overlook chatham in the dark. All throughout the tour you will hear ghostly tales and witness strange things.
The Gate House
Upper Barrier Guard House – The Guard House contained a small garrison who controlled the flow of traffic through the gate on the lower level, and closed gates after curfew time. It contains two small barrack rooms on the East Side upper level. The lower level has a series of of musket firing loops to protect the approach to the gate and a Kitchen for the use of the guard.
The two small barrack rooms are laid out as they were during Napoleonic period. If the beds seem a little large it is because they were designed to hold two men. On crossing over to the west side of the guard house through the archway is another larger barrack room. Next to this is the prison cell or lockup where unruly or drunk soldiers would be detained by the guard to await a more formal discipline session the next day.
All traffic from Chatham to the Dockyard or Brompton would have to pass through this gate, which was strictly controlled by the garrison .There were often heated exchanges between the guards and local people over the right to use the roadway as there was no other way of reaching the Dockyard area of the town.
How would you rate the haunted Amherst fort on a scare scale of 10? Do let us know in the comments below. For other similar tales, wade through the following places-