Lulworth Castle is a dramatic early-17th century hunting lodge.
The mock castle was built in 1607 - 10 by Thomas Howard, 3rd Viscount Blindon. He was a member of the huge Howard clan who were in great favour at the court of James I and had his principal seat at nearby Blindon Abbey.
The design of the grand hunting lodge was inspired by chivalric literature so loved by the Jacobean court. During the Civil War Blindon Abbey was destroyed by fire and Lulworth Castle was badly damaged.
In 1643 the estate was purchased by Humphrey Weld, a wealthy Londoner, and it became the Weld family's principal home. The interior was remodelled on several occasions during the 18th and 19th centuries removing all traces of the original interiors.
The Castle was seriously damaged by a fire in 1929 and remained a shell until the end of the 20th century. The property is still in the hands of the Weld family who run the estate but the Castle itself is cared for by English Heritage. They have recently restored much of the building.
The Castle is a solid, square block of three storeys over a basement. The huge round towers at the corners rise another storey.
The original central tower is now being rebuilt as part of the programme of restoration. The building has tall mullioned windows and the parapets are crenellated.
The main doors on the east and west and the balustraded terrace date from the 18th century. English Heritage has re-roofed and re-glazed the whole building to secure its long-term future.
Displays in the Castle show the the development of the building. Other features include the wine cellars and kitchens. There are spectacular views from the tower.
Lulworth Castle has a superb setting in beautiful parkland with views to the Channel. The Catholic church of St Mary in the park was built by Thomas Weld in 1786 - 87 to designs of John Tasker.
The Weld family tradition holds that they were only allowed to build a church if it did not resemble one. Accordingly the family built a neo-classical building that looks like a large garden temple.
The interior has a central dome and the four apses leading off this have half-domes. Most of the original fittings remain including the marble altar obtained from Rome.
Visitors have full access to the castle, church, summer farm and parkland.