Built in the 17th century, this glorious building is immersed in history. Originally built as a hunting lodge to entertain aristocracy and royalty, it was for centuries the family seat of the Weld family, who are the current owners of the Lulworth Estate. In 1641 though, it was brought by Humphrey weld, son of a wealthy London merchant.
Humphrey supported the Royalist cause in the Civil War when Lulworth Castle was occupied by Parliamentarians. They stripped lead from the castle roof and sold it to make musket balls to besiege Corfe Castle. After the Civil War ended Humphrey was rewarded for his loyalty to the crown by becoming Governor of Sandisfoot Castle and Portland.
The exterior of the castle is plain, and lacking of decorative interiors as all was ruined but it seems fitting as a mock medieval castle. The round towers at the corners of the straightforward square building rise to four stories, providing excellent views of the surrounding extensive countryside and coast.
On 29 August 1929, a maid discovered that a fire had broken out in the northeast tower. And efforts to stop the fire’s spread were ineffective and molten lead from the room ignited the floors below.
Fire crews came from all over dorset to support and were minutes from soothing the flames when the water supply ran out, and efforts quickly turned to saving as much of the interior contents as possible. A group of girl guides camping in the castle grounds pitched in and help remove paintings and books before the fire drove them out. When the flames finally died out after 3 days Lulworth Castle was a roofless ruin.
After the castle was gutted by fire in 1929 it was left as a roofless ruin until the 1970s when restoration work began with the aid and help of the English Heritage. The restoration, finished in 1998, which includes a new roof and restored surviving walls in the interior, but no new internal walls or replacements for the destroyed upper floors have been constructed, instead empty yet information laden halls remain and you are still able to get a feel for how it would have looked back then with some of the original interiors still on show and well presented, like in the kitchen area specifically and also the exhibit for the fire.
Our visit here was memorable and interesting to say the least, we didn’t quite expect there to be so much to take in, and of course having the additional visit to St Andrew’s church and the stunning Chapel of St Mary housed in the grounds of Lulworth Castle. It really is one of the most beautiful chapels and known as one of the finest pieces of Georgian architecture in the county of Dorset. Our advice is to do the Lulworth castle first then wander across around the church and chapel and really take your time in these places to see how incredible the buildings are and what they symbolise.
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