Popular Art - The Newhaven Fort Frescos

Between 1939 and 1945 Newhaven Fort was used as a look-out post to check for any unusual activity out to sea, most notably a Nazi invasion of our shore. This required a number of men to be constantly surveillant: men who knew that the likelihood of spotting an enemy invasion force was pretty minimal. It must have been quite a boring watch. And so the men, positioned in the Counterscarp Gallery of Newhaven Fort, made their own amusement. They painted murals along the walls to while away the time and pretty up their surroundings. The murals have lost some of the vibrant colour they once had, but are still very evident, and the Fort are offering three guided tours of them, which last 45 minutes each, as part of Architecture Week. You can see underwater scenes, tropical islands, grand Indian-style temples and exotic animals. You can also see glamorous women, like the one pictured. Anything, I guess, to help transport the unfortunate lookouts to a different place.

Over the last few years most of Newhaven Fort has been restored, but the Counterscarp Galleries have yet to be made accessible to the public, so this is a rare chance to see them. Tickets must be booked in advance using the details below. The Fort was built between 1860 and 1871 when Lord Palmerston decided that Britain was under threat of invasion from the French and needed adequate defences against them. By the 1990’s, when renovations began, it had fallen into a terrible state of disrepair, but is now a thriving museum. AG

Newhaven Fort: Let’s all have a fresco
Newhaven Fort
When? 11.30am-4.30pm
How Much? £3.50 (booking required)
Newhaven Fort
(t) 01273 517622
(w) Website