Constables Tower Visit

As Chairman of the Friends of Dover Castle I receive numerous and varied requests.

On the 26th May this year, I received an email from a resident of Hawkinge who was hosting friends from Tenerife on their holidays to the UK. The friend was the daughter of a former Housekeeper of Constables Tower and wondered whether I could arrange a visit for her to see Constables Tower so she could see where her mum had worked. Also, she had only really seen it from the servants quarters side which would also bring back great memories she feels. She would also like to show her daughter Andrea, and granddaughter Isabelle, where their grandmother/great grandmother used to work.

I managed to meet with Becky Smith the General Manager of Dover Castle and we arranged a date where I could open up Constables and do a private tour for them.

On Saturday 8th June I met with Cheryl Phipps, Daughter of Rosina Bradbury, who was the Housekeeper of Constables from 1962 until 1987, serving 8 Deputy Constables from Major General Grimshaw to Brigadier Lee. Cheryl was accompanied by her daughter Andrea Troy and her granddaughter Isabelle Troy.

Coincidentally, our Honorary Vice-President of the Friends of Dover Castle is Wendi Atherton, who lived in Constables as the wife of the 200th Deputy Constable of Dover Castle, Brigadier Maurice Atherton. Rosina was housekeeper to the Atherton’s and their family during Maurice’s term from 1976 until 1981 – this was an extended term from the normal three years, due to HM the Queen Mother being appointed as Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports and Constable of Dover Castle in 1978.

The picture above shows Wendi, Cheryl, Andrea, and Isabelle pictured in the entrance lobby of Constables Tower.

Cheryl says that often, her and her sister would walk up the hill after school to meet Mum from work but would always go to the back entrance and press the bell, which is still in use today at the side door which is the entrance to the Constables Kitchen Garden so she was intrigued to see our Kitchen Garden Project as she would have walked through these paths some 60 years ago.

Cheryl has lots of pictures of her mum’s service at Constables which have evidently been treasured down the years, especially this one of Rosina meeting HM Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, whom she apparently met on several occasions during the Queen Mother’s time as Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports and Constable of Dover Castle.

The Queen Mother

Isabella Troy, aged 14, who is the Great Granddaughter of Rosina and evidently a very accomplished pianist as she was desperate to try out the resident piano in the entrance lobby which I imagine has not been played so well in many years. Isabelle is very keen on History so was enthralled to be able to wander around this fascinating building and picture where her great grandmother would have been during special events and also just during normal days of looking after this historic place.

She was even more enthralled as we, the Friends, had the Kitchen Garden Open that day too which meant she was able to also see Treasurers Tower which is not open to the public other than when we open the garden so she felt as though this tour was even more special.

Becky, the General Manager allowed me to offer them free passes to look around the whole of Dover Castle following our tour of Constables which she also thought was fab! Isabelle is a most delightful 14 year old and Cheryl made a generous donation to the Friends on behalf of her family, saying today had been so much better than anticipated.

Here is Isabella playing the piano in Constables Tower.

Constables Tower Piano

The installation of HM Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother as Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports was probably the biggest event during Rosina’s commendable 25 years service at Constables and Maurice and Wendi presented her with a framed photograph of the occasion, which Cheryl proudly displays back at her home in Tenerife and Wendi had signed the back of it, so it was great I was able to ask Wendi to host the special tour with me as she was able to tell our special guests far more about Constables than I was as she had lived there for 5 years.

Dover Castle procession

Wendi had signed the back…….

“Rose With all our thanks and to remind you of a memorable occasion

Maurice and Wendi Atherton 7th October, 1981”

Constable Tower signed picture

Brigadier Maurice Atherton had recommended Rosina for a commendation for her excellent and meritorious service.


Maurice Atherton and Rosina Bradbury

None other than the Top Army Officer in the United Kingdom, General Sir Frank Kitson, Commander in Chief United Kingdom Land Forces (1982-1985) signed a special framed Certificate of commendation for Rosina.

 Certificate of commendation

So, this special tour today that started as a simple request, which I was determined to try to meet if at all possible, became a really special tour for the family of a very deserving person who is sadly no longer with us but her family were able to talk of distant memories and create new ones.

This is another example of the Friends of Dover Castle asking Dover Castle to be able to do something special for someone and the Castle saying YES without hesitation. This proves working collaboratively we can make a difference.

Rosina Bradbury was Housekeeper for 25 years and served 8 Deputy Constables and her family will now be able to better tell her story.

It was lovely to be able to do something for a wonderful family and I hope they stay in touch.

Graham Hutchison. Chairman, Friends of Dover Castle