Walled Cities
Derry’s First Defences
The Plantation Begins
Walls Constructed
Bullwarks and Gates
Disagreement Over
Early Siege Threats
The Great Siege of 1689
Bullwarks Renamed
Changes Since 1689
Secret Tunnels
Contact Details


The Plantation Begins

In 1609 the Earl of Salisbury, Lord High Treasurer to King James I, put forward a proposal based on Chichester's plan to establish a Protestant colony in the annexed lands of the O'Neills in Tyrone and O'Dohertys in Inishowen. The king agreed and invited the merchants of the various London Companies to undertake the Plantation of Derry.
spaceFour responsible members of the principal London Guilds were dispatched by the Common Council of the City of London to assess the situation in Derry and report back. 'Men of estates and plenty' showed little enthusiasm for the north-west region of Ireland at that time, due mainly to their interest in more profitable (and safer) colonial ventures such as the Virginia Plantation in the Americas. To overcome this reluctance the Privy Council secretly advised Chichester to reveal only the beneficial aspects of the area to the four Guild representatives. This 'trick' proved successful and the deputation returned with a favourable report.
spaceThe Privy Council and the City drew up Articles of Agreement in January 1610 concerning the proposed Plantation. One of these Articles stated: 'the houses, with the fortifications, should be built and perfected by the 1 November 1611'. In that year Lord Carew made a comprehensive survey of the Ulster Plantation and, it is believed, a plan entitled 'The Platt of the Derrie 1611' was commissioned by him. Curiously, it projects the city walled on three sides only (there is no wall on the riverside) and covers a much larger area than the walled city built a few years later. However, delays, caused mainly by the unwillingness of the local inhabitants to surrender their land to the Planters, meant that virtually no building was carried out by the appointed date. Captain Vaughan eventually negoiated satisfactory compensation terms by August 1611 but in the end Lord Carew’s planned Walls were never built.

Lord Carew’s plan of Derry, 1601.

On 29 March 1613 a company was formally incorporated by Royal Charter to officially carry out the Plantation. It was called 'The Society of the Governor and Assistants of London of the New Plantation in Ulsterwithin the Realm of Ireland'. It is betterknown today as 'The Honourable The Irish Society'. The Royal Charter (which replaced the original one of 1604) also renamed the city Londonderry because of the new connection with London. It was the Irish Society which administered the building of Derry's Walls over the following several years.
spaceIn August 1613 Mathias Springham and George Smithes were sent to Derry by the Irish Society to draw up plans for the construction of the walls. They found widespread evidence ofcorruption amongst the city officials, includingnonpayment ofworkers and overcharging on building contracts. Such corruption had set back previous Plantation work.
spaceHaving sorted out these problems, Springham and Smithes consulted with several experienced army captains stationed in the city and eventually drew up a well-researched plan for walled fortifications in Derry. The defensive siting of the Walls was constrained to some extent by the future commercial needs of the city but the plan was approved by the Common Council of London in October 1613. Unfortunately no record exists of this plan so it is not possible to see how much it differed, if at all, from the completed construction. As a result of all this dedicated endeavour by Springham and Smithes, work finally began on the Derry Walls in May 1614.