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Hurst Castle

Hurst Castle Hampshire - Informative Guide about Hurst Castle and Spit

An exciting place to spend an afternoon in the New Forest is at Hurst Castle. Hurst Castle is located close to Lymington, and also is not too far from Dorset and of course the blue flag beaches at Bournemouth.

Hurst Castle is located literally right at the end of a long shingle spit. The spit actually starts of in nearby Milford-On-Sea and hen extends about 1.5 miles to its seaward end where it is only about 3/4s of a mile from the Isle of Wight coastline.
The castle has spectacular views and is an ideal spot to get some excellent shots of the Solent, especially at the end of the spit and the top of the centre keep.

For an afternoon or entire day trip spent in the New Forest region, Hurst Castle is an attraction that should not be missed.

Hurst Castle was built by Henry VII as only one in a chain of fortresses built along the coast. The spit was the best location at the western edge to defend the Solent from potential invasion from foreign navies.

It was completed in 1544, and formed one of many of Henry VIII's Device Forts (artillery fortifications). Originally, it was intended to guard the approaches to Portsmouth, where its situation at the narrow entrance to the Solent, was the perfect place from which to keep watch, as well as defend.

This was because of the strong ebb and flow of the tides that run in the area. These create very strong currents and even today smaller craft can be known to struggle to go against the tides. In the early days of sail this proved to be a powerful tool to use against would-be invaders.

Hurst Castle has a rich history. It was the place where Charles I was imprisoned in 1648, before being taken to London for his trial and his execution. During the Napoleonic wars, the castle was modernised. It was again also renovated after the 1859 Royal Commission report.

During this renovation it was given extensive new wing batteries. The modifications were completed in 1873, creating an even stronger fortress. During this renovation, huge 38-ton guns were installed, and two of these can be seen today in their casemates.

Hurst Castle was also used in more modern times. During World War II, the castle was manned with searchlights as well as gun batteries.

The castle is today owned by English Heritage, and it is also open to the public. Since the time when it was open to the public, there have been more exhibits added, and the exhibitions have been focussed so that visitors may learn about the castle as it was in its prime all those years ago.

There is also a new lighthouse museum that the public may visit, and a small café at which to enjoy refreshments especially if you have walked along the spit on a warm day.

Hurst castle is best accessed either on foot from Milford-On-Sea, or by a ferry service from Keyhaven. The castle is open each day during the summer months, and weekends during the winter months.

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