Ince's Hall, Gibraltar, and the courtyard buildings.

This building complex has its origins in the Garrison Armoury, originally just in the south wing, to which the which the north and west wings were added later, around the central courtyard. In 1876 it was converted for recreation purposes, and later, in 1945, the south wing (the original armoury) became a theatre — as it still is now. Gibraltar International occupies the other wings.

The person commemorated by the theatre's name, and that of the Ince's Farm area on the Upper Rock, is Henry Ince (1736–1808), and his surprisingly disparate legacies have proved deeply significant to the people of Gibraltar. Ince was born in Penzance, and was "by all accounts a small but strong and wiry man with a resilient constitution.... the ideal person to tackle the kind of work that would eventually make him famous" (Chipulina). He was first trained as a "nailor" and later gained some experience as a miner (see Connolly 31). At eighteen he enlisted in the army, and in 1768 went out to Gibraltar where he joined what became known as the Soldier Artificer Company, which was a forerunner of the Royal Engineers.


Henry Ince became well-known mainly as a result of proposing and supervising the extensive tunnelling of the Upper Galleries of the Rock for defensive purposes during the Great Siege of 1779-83:

On a fine day in May 1782, the Governor, attended by the Chief Engineer and staff, made an inspection of the batteries at the north front. Great havoc had been made in some of them by the enemy’s fire; and for the present they were abandoned whilst the artificers were restoring them. Meditating for a few moments over the ruins, he said aloud, “I will give a thousand dollars to any one who can suggest how I am to get a flanking fire upon the enemy’s works.” A pause followed the exciting exclamation, when sergeant-major Ince of the company, who was in attendance upon the Chief Engineer, stepped forward and suggested the idea of forming galleries in the rock to effect the desired object. The General at once saw the propriety of the scheme, and directed it to be carried into execution. [Connolly 14-15]

The mining works that Ince implemented consisted of "two long lines of galleries punctuated at intervals with embrasures blasted out of the rock, the upper one containing two large open spaces hewn out of solid rock known as St George's and Cornwallis' Halls" (Chipulina). Work continued even after the siege, so that by 1790 "an unprecedented 4,0000ft of tunnel had been excavated, and nearly half a million cubic feet of rock extracted from the tunnels themselves" (Fa and Finlayson 30). Whatever their actual value and practicality as defence works, the tunnels were — and still are — the wonder of those who visit them.

Left: Soldier Artificers, uniform 1786. Source: Connolly 1. Right: St George's Hall. Source: Temple, facing 145).


The present location of the Methodist church in Main Street, Gibraltar. Many thanks to the Gibraltar Methodist Church for permission to use this picture. See bibliography for full details.

During his thirty-six years serving in the army in Gibraltar, Lieutenant Ince, as he became in 1801, had another role too. A devout Methodist and lay preacher, he also made his mark by being involved in founding and spreading Methodism there, from its inception in 1769.

The garrison was expected to be thoroughly Anglican. But this minority church grew, and what Stephen Constantine terms "competition for souls between rival churches" had an important result for the whole civilian population (189). The Methodists were at the forefront here: "Financial subsidies first provided to the Methodists were extended from 1839 to other educational providers," explains Constantine (190), as long as the schools passed government inspections.

Ince retired to Gettisham in Devon where he died in 1808, aged 72, and was buried in the churchyard of St Michael's Church.

First two photographs by the author, who also researched and downloaded the historic illustrations. You may use these images without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer or source, and (2) link your document to this URL or cite the Victorian Web in a print one. Click on all the images to enlarge them.

Related Material


Adkins, Roy and Lesley. Henry Ince and Soldier-Artificers." Patterns of the Past. 4 February 2019

Chipulina, Neville. 1882 — Sergeant-Major Ince — A Thousand Dollars. Web. 4 February 2019.

Connolly, Thomas William John. History of the Royal Sappers and Miners, Vol. I. 2nd ed. London: Longman, Brown, Green etc.,1857. Project Gutenburg. Web. 4 February 2019.

Constantine, Stephen. Community and Identity: The Making of Modern Gibraltar since 1704. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2009.

Fa, Darren, and Clive Finlayson. Thr Fortifications of Gibrtaltar. Botley, Oxford: Osprey, 2006.

History. Gibraltar Methodist Church. Web. 4 February 2019.

"Inces Hall Theatre." Web. 4 February 2019.

Temple, Sir Grenville (and others). The Shores and Islands of the Mediterranean, drawn from nature. London: Fisher, So, & Co., 1840. Google Books. Free eBook. Web. 4 February 2019.

Created 5 January 2018