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Dover: Lock and Key of the Kingdom

Queen Elizabeth I

Queen Elizabeth I visited Dover on 14 July 1573 on her  progress through Kent. The procession to Dover from  Folkestone must have presented a marvellous and glittering  cavalcade to any observer. In addition to her own courtiers,  the Queen was accompanied by the Archbishop of Canterbury  and the Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports, each with their own  entourage. The procession was so long that as the tail of it was going up  Folkestone Hill, leaving Folkestone, the head was descending  the Western Heights down through Cowgate into Queen Street. There were about 1,000 important people on horseback and a  similar number of two wheeled wagons each drawn by six  horses. It is likely that the Queen stayed at the Castle before  proceeding on to Sandwich. Before she left she was presented  with a richly enamelled gold cup bearing the Cinque Ports  arms.  It was during Elizabeth’s reign that the Cinque Ports performed  their final service in the naval defence of their country. In late  July 1588 England was threatened with invasion by the  Spanish Armada and the Cinque Ports were ordered to send  five ships and one pinnace, but actually provided two ships  and one pinnace. Dover equipped the ‘Elizabeth’, a ship of 120  tons, with 70 men and supplies for fifty days. These vessels, with eighteen from the east-coast towns,  formed the auxiliary squadron to the Channel squadron, and  were posted to Dover. This small squadron took part in the  action off Gravelines (near Calais) on 29 July. Five fire ships  had been prepared in Dover Harbour but were not used as Sir  Francis Drake gave some of his own ships to use instead to  save time. By the next day the Spanish fleet had been broken by the  English attack and was being scattered by the prevailing  westerly wind.
Queen Elizabeth I. The "Armada Portrait" celebrating the defeat of the Spanish Armada. The Spanish Armada, 1588. The armada being attacked by English ships.