Reigate Fort, which sits proudly on top of Reigate Hill in Surrey, was built in 1898 as part of the London Defence Scheme, the British Government’s attempt to protect London and the south coast from attack by their greatest adversary, the French. Join the National Trust, who now look after the site, on the 8 and 9 June to see what life would have been like for soldiers billeted at Reigate Fort.
The 10th Essex Living History Group will bring the fort to life, wearing uniforms of the times, practicing drills, firing techniques and marching. It goes without saying that there’ll be plenty of explosions and gunfire as well! Listen to soldiers’ stories of life at the fort, smell their campfire stews and feel how scratchy, but water-proof their uniforms were. If you have any military memorabilia, bring it along too – experts will be on hand to tell you more about them.
The fort will be open from 10.30am until 4pm on Saturday 8 and Sunday 9 June. Tickets for the event are £5 for adults and £2.50 for children. There’s no need to book in advance. Sunday’s event will culminate in an afternoon military musical parade from Reigate Fort onto Reigate Hill to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Reigate Hill being given to the people of Reigate town.
Marc Russell, National Trust Ranger who looks after the fort says “Reigate Fort is one of only 13 defensive forts built along the North Downs. Over the last few years we’ve worked hard to restore it so that visitors can see what life would have been like for those working there. This year, we’ve restored the shifting lobby, where soldiers changed from their work clothes into special spark-free uniforms. This event is a great way for us to bring the fort to life and to understand how tough life must have been.”
Car parking for the event is at the Wray Lane car park (RH2 0HX) and Reigate Fort is best reached by crossing the footbridge from the car park. It’s a walk of about 200m slightly uphill to the fort. For more information, visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/reigate-hill-and-gatton-park or call 01372 220644.