Sandsfoot Castle is one of Henry VIII
Henry VIII of England
Henry VIII was King of England from 21 April 1509 until his death. He was Lord, and later King, of Ireland, as well as continuing the nominal claim by the English monarchs to the Kingdom of France...
's Device Forts
The Device Forts, also known as Henrician Castles, are a series of artillery fortifications built to defend the southern coast of England by Henry VIII. After his divorce of Catherine of Aragon England was left politically isolated, and the peace of Nice between France and Spain in 1538 aroused...
, also known as Henrician Castles, built in the 1530s to the west of Weymouth, Dorset
Dorset , is a county in South West England on the English Channel coast. The county town is Dorchester which is situated in the south. The Hampshire towns of Bournemouth and Christchurch joined the county with the reorganisation of local government in 1974...
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...
, opposite its contemporary Portland Castle
Portland Castle is one of the Device Forts, also known as Henrician Castles, built in 1539 by Henry VIII on the Isle of Portland to guard the natural Portland anchorage known as the Portland Roads. The castle lies in the far north of the island, in the village now called Castletown, near Fortuneswell...
. Together these two forts put the whole of Portland harbour
Portland Harbour is located beside the Isle of Portland, off Dorset, on the south coast of England. It is one of the largest man-made harbours in the world. Grid reference: .-History:...
and the roads, within range of their artillery, thus protecting shipping from foreign raiders, and to prevent an invading landing force from forming up offshore. Some of the stone used in the construction possibly came from Bindon Abbey
Bindon Abbey was a Cistercian monastery, of which only ruins remain, on the River Frome about half a mile east of Wool in the Purbeck District, Dorset, England.- History :...
, near Wool, following the Dissolution of the Monasteries
Dissolution of the Monasteries
The Dissolution of the Monasteries, sometimes referred to as the Suppression of the Monasteries, was the set of administrative and legal processes between 1536 and 1541 by which Henry VIII disbanded monasteries, priories, convents and friaries in England, Wales and Ireland; appropriated their...
The castle was rectangular with two storeys and dungeons. It was orientated on a north-west/south-east axis and provided a heavy gun emplacement, quarters for its garrison and underground magazines and was surrounded by a ditch and a series of ramparts.
Designed specifically as a coastal defence, Sandsfoot Castle was always vulnerable to attack from a landward direction, and often changed hands during the English Civil War
English Civil War
The English Civil War was a series of armed conflicts and political machinations between Parliamentarians and Royalists...
. The castle dungeons were used as a mint
A mint is an industrial facility which manufactures coins for currency.The history of mints correlates closely with the history of coins. One difference is that the history of the mint is usually closely tied to the political situation of an era...
during the Civil War, giving it a greater importance to both defenders and attackers.
Most of the castle has fallen into the sea, but the site is easily accessible as a local park. The site also includes a small sandy beach named Sandsfoot Cove.
In recent times the castle has been fenced off in order to protect visitors from falling masonry. In 2011 the Heritage Lottery Fund
Heritage Lottery Fund
The Heritage Lottery Fund is a fund established in the United Kingdom under the National Lottery etc. Act 1993. The Fund opened for applications in 1994. It uses money raised through the National Lottery to transform and sustain the UK’s heritage...
made a grant of £194,700 to pay for the castle to be restored so it could be opened to the general public.
- Colvin, H.M. (ed) (1982). The History of the King's Works, Vol. IV, 1485–1600, Part II.
- Harrington, Peter (2007). The castles of Henry VIII. Oxford: Osprey. ISBN 9781846031304
- Morley, B. M. (1976). Henry VIII and the development of coastal defence. London: H.M. Stationery Office. ISBN 0116707771
- Device FortsDevice FortsThe Device Forts, also known as Henrician Castles, are a series of artillery fortifications built to defend the southern coast of England by Henry VIII. After his divorce of Catherine of Aragon England was left politically isolated, and the peace of Nice between France and Spain in 1538 aroused...
- Castles in Great Britain and Ireland
- List of castles in England
- List of Dorset beaches
- Jurassic CoastJurassic CoastThe Jurassic Coast is a World Heritage Site on the English Channel coast of southern England. The site stretches from Orcombe Point near Exmouth in East Devon to Old Harry Rocks near Swanage in East Dorset, a distance of ....