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Gun Emplacement 770m North-West of Knoll House Hotel, Purbeck

Description: Gun Emplacement 770m North-West of Knoll House Hotel

Grade: II
Date Listed: 30 November 2012
Building ID: 1411830

OS Grid Reference: SZ0276784053
OS Grid Coordinates: 402767, 84053
Latitude/Longitude: 50.6562, -1.9622

Locality: Purbeck
Local Authority: Purbeck District Council
County: Dorset
Postcode: BH19 3AH

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Listing Text


Gun emplacement erected in 1940 as a component of the Studland Defence Area.

Reason for Listing

The gun emplacement, 770m north-west of Knoll House Hotel, is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Group value: although it has suffered some loss of fabric, it is integral part of a significant group of Second World War anti-invasion defences that are listed and it contributes to an understanding of national defence policy at that time;
* Historic interest: as part of the Second World War military program of coastal defences, it provides a visual reminder of the impact of world events on the area.


Studland Bay was one of the two stretches of Dorset coastline where a German invasion was considered most likely. In 1940, the defence of the Dorset coast was the responsibility of V Corps whose 50th Division had its headquarters at Blandford Forum. Anti-tank islands were established in towns in the area and a number of stop lines were also constructed. Anti-invasion defences were constructed along Studland Bay in response to the threat of a German invasion. Forward defended localities were established along the line of the beach at Studland and a number of pillboxes and other defensive structures were constructed. Anti-tank cubes blocked possible exits from the beach at three locations and minefields were also situated amongst the sand dunes. Most of these defences were in place by early August 1940. In October 1940, the infantry battalion in the Studland Sub-Sector (Studland Defence Area) was the 7th Bn. Suffolk Regiment. By April 1941, it had been replaced by the 1st Bn. Coldstream Guards. The Dorset Home Guard unit also manning defences at Studland was No.2 (East Purbeck) Company, 7th (Wareham) Battalion was manned by No.2 (East Purbeck) Company, 7th (Wareham) Battalion of the Home Guard.

From the autumn of 1943, Studland Bay became an amphibious assault training area as part of the preparations for D-Day on 6 June 1944, one of the most significant dates in modern history, defining the start of the final phase of World War II in Europe. Six weeks prior to D-Day, Allied troops gathered in Studland Bay to undertake three full-scale training exercises to prepare themselves for the amphibious landings that were to take place on the beaches of Normandy. The rehearsal, codenamed Exercise Smash 1, was the largest live ammunition practice of the whole war period; battle training was also carried out using the anti-invasion pillboxes erected within the Defence Area. The bay was also the scene of a major experiment to test the effectiveness of burning oil as a defence against a German seaborne invasion, known as Project Fougasse, it involved piping oil to the sea and firing it by explosive charges.

On the east side of a spur of land above the Ferry Road, to the north of Studland, is a gun emplacement which was erected in c.1940 as part of the coastal anti-invasion defences in the Studland area. It faces north-east, overlooking Studland Bay and Old Harry Rocks.


MATERIALS: reinforced shuttered concrete and brick.

DESCRIPTION: the front chamber is open-fronted and square in plan and, although now incomplete, its concrete canopy breaks forwards. The gun mounting is no longer evident. To the rear are two passageways that lead, via steps, to three underground rooms, probably ammunition stores, which have brick walls and ceilings of shuttered concrete.

To the south-west of the gun emplacement is a trench which has a sinuous form. It is probably associated with the use of Studland Heath as a military training area in c.1942.

Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.