Newest Review: ... a grand hunting estate of a lord or gentry. As you get up towards the entrance there is ample parking for everybody visiting, it was a fai... more
The hunting lodge disguised as a castle
Lulworth Castle (Dorset)
Member Name: wxcat
Lulworth Castle (Dorset)
Advantages: Beautiful location, great surrounding. loads to do
Disadvantages: The restaurant
Lulworth Castle isn't really a castle before you ask it's a hunting lodge that was designed to look like a castle when it was built by Thomas Howard in the early 17th Century. It's part of the larger Lulworth Estate in Dorset, with local attractions like Lulworth Cover and Durdle Door in the vicinity. It can be found at BH20 5QS for mortals with satnavs and for the rest of us it's just to the west of Poole on the south coast, before you get to Weymouth. If you look at a coastal map you can see the perfectly formed cove of Lulworth standing out on the coast.
We spent a day in the area on a trip from Southampton, it didn't take long to get to, was well signposted all the way in. It is near Ministry of Defence land, and if active exercises were taking place you could expect to have been diverted around them. On the day we visited Lulworth Castle and park, Lulworth Cove, and Kimmeridge Bay. Then on the way back stopped at Tower Park, just outside Poole for dinner.
Back to Lulworth Castle, the estate as you enter is really rather grand and you feel as though you are entering a grand hunting estate of a lord or gentry. As you get up towards the entrance there is ample parking for everybody visiting, it was a fairly nice day when we went there, and there weren't too many people there. When you get out the car you realise how big the estate is, as you walk up to the Castle. The grounds are where they hold the festivals 'Camp Bestival' and others.
It costs £8.50 for adults and £4 for children to get in. You get access to the Castle, grounds, Church, and to the farm for this. They have a shop in the entrance with all the usual tat you can buy, but it is actually quite good for that kind of shop. They also have a restaurant on site, which was the most disappointing part of the visit on the day. Its not bad to look at, but the staff seem so demotivated and don't actually seem to care at all with what they're doing. The prices aren't cheap a little more than you would expect even for it being an attraction. A very disappointing experience and I'm glad I didn't order food as you could see a steady stream of people complaining about the food or the lack of it appearing.
Once you're in we went up to the Church which you walk around, we didn't go inside but it really gives some excellent shots for the camera and is pretty well looked after. From the church you walk up to the castle which is pretty huge as you approach it. You go up the steps to the main entrance to enter the castle. When you enter the "castle" styled Hunting Lodge you immediately see the current state its in. Which is mostly still identical to the state it was after a fire devastated the inside of the lodge in 1929. Since 1988 they restored the windows, roof, and one tower of the lodge to show you what it was once like. Inside where you can see from floor to roof its quite amazing. On the main entry floor you have displays and photos of the castle before and after the fire and what the rooms used to be before they were devastated 80 years ago.
In the tower that has been restored, there is a large staircase up the tower to the roof, from which you can see all over the estate, down to Lulworth Cove, and back inland for miles. I took some really breathtaking shots on the Lulworth Estate which up there. If anyone is interested I can send the pictures. When you get back down the tower and carry on down into the basement there are lots of displays. Some are related to the estate and others seem to be a rather random, like a display on firefighters in Dorset and some on kid's toys through the ages.
Outside the castle, we left at the rear and walked through the grounds we came to the chapel, which was closed while we visited. It's supposed to one of the finest pieces of architecture in Dorset, built in 1786. It's quite impressive alone from the outside. Walking round from the chapel you can head down to the animal farm, which is quite different to anything else on the site. The farm has lots of rare breed's cattle and sheep, and an array of rabbits, peacocks, turkeys, ducks amongst others. Some of the animals are wondering around freely, s o you can get close up. You can also feed some of the animals. There is staff around to help people with the animals and get the most out of it.
Overall I was much impressed by Lulworth Castle, it really is spectacular for a day out and lots of varied things you can do. Just don't go in the cafe on site, use the cafe just outside the castle grounds or go into Lulworth Cove as there are plenty of restaurants around there.
Summary: Great day out on the Jurassic Coast.
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