Country Life -
Lulworth Castle, Dorset
By John Goodall
Lulworth Castle has opened its doors to the public again
Fifty years after a disastrous fire in 1929 left the building a gutted shell, Lulworth
Castle has once again been opened to the public, but in a rather surprising form.
In a combined conservation initiative between English Heritage and its owners -
Opening Times: 28 March -
Location: In E Lulworth off B3070. 3m NE of Lulworth Cove.
Celebration of Lulworth
The exiled King Charles X of France held court at the Castle and it was long believed that Napoleon himself once stole ashore in the Cove to check its suitability as a starting point for an invasion of England.
Today, we know it as one of the Dorset coast's most popular tourist attractions with its crammed car park, visitors bottlenecked to the sea along Main Road and then scattered over the stony beach and cliff faces in the Cove itself.
The Book of Lulworth* charts Lulworth's lengthy history from the formation of the
spectacular geological grotesques at Stair Hole and Dungy Head; to the
The book is littered with the robust names of the coast's many features -
Farming, fishing and smuggling form a large part of the story of their lives and there is no shortage of tales.
Illustrative artist Molly Brett, whose work appeared in Enid Blyton's books, captured
Another common factor in bringing small, rural communities to life is the faintly
benevolent presence of a little myth and mystery. Lulworth has its Phantom Army seen
marching across what are now the Army firing ranges in 1678. Legend has it the appearance
of a ghost army is the presage to a war, but the Monmouth Rebellion did not flare
up for another seven years. Even in recent times, fog-
Lulworth soil has been trodden by royalty many times since James I became the first
ruling monarch to visit. Charles II fled the Great Plague of 1665 to take refuge
at while Maria Anne Smythe, widow of landowner Edward Weld, went
on to marry the Prince of Wales -
And the villages continue to exert their charm on visitors and locals alike. Comic
actor Arthur English recalled his posting to Lulworth as an instructor at the Armoured
Fighting Vehicles School: "It's nice to think the boys at Lulworth still remember
me," he said. "A lot of water's passed under the bridge since I was there -
The Book of Lulworth by Rodney Legg, £19.95, Halsgrove. ISBN 1 84114 141 0