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Sandsfoot Castle - A Bit of History
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Sandsfoot castle is one of Henry VIII's Device Forts, also known as Henrician Castles. It was built around 1541 to the west of Weymouth in Dorset. It lies opposite its contemporary Portland Castle which together put the whole of Portland harbour and the roads within range of their artillery, thus protecting shipping from foreign raiders, and preventing an invading landing force from forming up offshore, although the castle was always vulnerable to attack to a landward direction. The castle went under repair in 1584 die to damage suffered from coastal erosion and undermining by the sea. Remedial works were later undertaken in 1610-11 and again in 1623. From 1642 the castle often changed hands and was held for the King by the Royalist during the English Civil War. How-ever, in 1644-45, the castle was surrendered to Parliamentary forces by, governor for the king, Colonel Ashburnham. It was also considered to be of no military importance and of no further use to the Royalists. Afterwards the castle dungeons were used as a mint for striking coinage during the war, giving it a greater importance to both defenders and attackers. The castle never saw serious military action and was therefore dropped from the Military Register in 1665.
Sandsfoot Castle - Now
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Most of the castle has fallen into the sea, how-ever the ruins have been Grade II since late 1953. The castle originally had a central block of 2 storeys and basement, with an entrance gate, as well as an octoganonal gun-room on the seaward side. Today the outer walls and the castle's gatehouse remains, much decayed, whilst the gun-room has largely been a victim of coastal erosion and it's platform has fallen into the sea many centuries ago. The castle's entry front has left side remains of the gatehouse over and entry with a straight sided low arch. The right side has remains of walling to the basement, ground floors, with ashlars remnants to the upper level, as well as very steep sloping sills. The castle is completely unroofed and has no floors or fittings except for remains of a fireplace and doorways at the seaward end.
(Please note that the above information has been taken from different websites including Wikipedia).
Visiting Sandsfoot Castle
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Me and my dad decided to do the Rodwell Trail early one morning. (The Rodwell Trail starts on Abbotsbury Road, Weymouth and ends at Ferry Bridge in Wyke Regis. The latter part of the trail is along the northern side of Portland Harbour, passing the Tudor Sandsfoot Castle. The trail goes along the route of a disused railway line.) Unfortunately after a good 15mins walking we found out that part of the Rodwell Trail was closed so were diverted. After spending about 10mins trying to find out where we were meant to go we found the adjoining part of the Rodwell Trail which was also closed. We decided to go off the trail and instead make our own way to Sandsfoot Castle (which my dad knew luckily). The walk here was quite tiring and I was beginning to think that we were never going to get there. There are a number of different hills we had to walk up and down to get to the castle which was using one of the main road and side roads. After at least 30mins of walking from where we were staying I was glad that we had finally got there. We entered the gardens (Sandsfoot Gardens) which forms the grounds around the ruins of the castle. There are seasonal flowers here as well as herb beds and herbaceous borders, which surround an ornamental pond. There is apparently meant to be a fountain but I don't remember seeing this. Also in the gardens is a small cafe and terraced area. There are plenty of benches in the garden so you are able to sit down and enjoy a cool drink whilst enjoying the beautiful garden. As my and my dad visited here rather early there weren't any other people here and the cafe wasn't open. The flowers and small tree's in the garden looked beautiful. I thought the pond looked rather dirty, but it was still a nice feature to the gardens.
As soon as you enter the gardens you can see Sandsfoot Castle. How-ever on the particular morning we went it was extremely misty so we could only make the outline of the castle. We followed the path which went onto a wooden bridge which led to the castle. You have to go down a few steps from the bridge and walk a short walk to the castle. Although the castle is in ruins I thought it still looked beautiful. The castle had a slightly eerie feel to it with the thick mist around us. We entered the castle and looked around (there wasn't that much to look at). There is a square path with a fence which enables you to walk around the small part of the castle which still remains. You can look down and see that there is no floor to the castle and this is just gravel and stones. A lot of the windows in the castle are still intact and these look beautiful. You can look out the windows quite easily to see what would normally be a beautiful sea-view. It was so misty and foggy on the morning me and my dad visited here that we couldn't see anything. We could hear the sea a little but it was quite eerie as we couldn't actually see the sea or anything else when looking out of the windows. Looking out the windows made my eyes go funny a little due to the amount of fog and mist that was around. There is a small board with some information about the castle on it which was interesting to read.
After looking at the castle and trying to make out views out of the window we left the castle and made out way to Sandsfoot Cove (Castle Cove) which is just down the road from the Castle. The small, sandy beach lies adjacent to the remains of the castle and is backed by low cliffs. The cove is privately owned and as a sheltered and sandy area it makes it popular for swimming, sailing, and snorkelling and diving. The beach is very small but was nice to walk on. There are various shells on the beach and a lot of half eaten crabs or crab shells. I suspect the seagulls see the crabs catch them and then bash them on the nearby rocks to eat them. An area of the sand which had some large rocks had what looked like some kind of warning sign. The sand looked very wet so me and my dad presumed it was this type of sinking sand, so we didn't even try to walk over to this area. After a small wander on the beach we made out way back to where we were staying.
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Although me and my dad were originally going to do part of the Rodwell Trail we did intend to visit Sandsfoot Castle, we just had to get there a different way which was a shame. The gardens to the castle are very nice and pleasant and I can imagine this is a lovely place to sit and enjoy a cool drink in the sun. The garden is kept well with a lovely range of flowers and plants. The castle is of course the main attraction here and despite it being in ruins it looks beautiful. There isn't much left of the castle so there isn't a huge amount to see, how-ever I am pleased I visited here and had chance to see it. It was nice going here early in the morning as no-one else was here so we could spend as long as we wanted looking out of the windows (despite the lack of view). We were disappointed that it was so foggy and misty the morning that we visited the castle as we couldn't see anything such as the sea or the view out to the sea. The fog and mist gave the castle an eerie feel. I would definitely visit the castle again, but on a much nicer/sunnier day so I could appreciate the views more. I think this is a lovely place to visit and would definitely suggest it if you are in Weymouth. In terms of parking I'm not sure where you would be able to park if you visited here as the roads are very narrow and mostly residential.
(review also on ciao)