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Historic England Research Records

Hurst Castle

Hob Uid: 459358
Location :
Hampshire
New Forest
Milford-on-Sea
Grid Ref : SZ3180089740
Summary : A Henrician artillery castle built between 1541 and 1544 by Henry VIII as part of his network of coastal defences to protect against French and Spanish invasion. Hurst Castle was established to defend the important Needles Passage at the western entrance of the Solent and was designed to withstand both sea and land attack. During the civil war the castle was occupied by parliamentary forces and in 1648 Charles I was held prisoner in the castle. The castle was repaired between 1673 and 1675. The tower was rebuilt around 1805 during the Napoleonic wars, and in the 1850s the castle's dock was built as well as the West Battery (1852). The castle was refortified during further hostilities between England and France in the 1860s, and two large wing batteries were built to house 30 heavy guns. A number of lighthouses were also established at Hurst and represent an important evolution of historical navigation lighting at Hurst which dates from 1786.The castle continued to be repaired and refortified in the 1890s, and a coastal battery was built in 1893. Soldiers were stationed at Hurst Castle during the Second World War, and wall paintings have been found in the west wing battery which was used as a theatre.The original Henrician artillery castle had a much more advanced design than the other castles built in this first phase of coastal defences. It was a twelve-sided tower surrounded by a geometric curtain wall with three projecting semi-circular bastions. All of these defences were surrounded by a moat. The castle had various firing lines and was equipped with embrasures for over 70 weapons. The most important repairs to the castle were made in the 1860s when two wing batteries were added. These were designed to house 30 heavy guns and each casemate was built of brick with granite faced elevations to the sea.
More information : SZ 3180 8974: Hurst Castle (NR) (1)

A major work of coastal fortification, Hurst Castle was begun in 1541 and finished in 1544. It comprises a central twelve sided tower surrounded by a curtain wall on which are three semi circular bastions. The castle originally had a total of 24 gun ports at ground and moat level. It is probable that some more gun positions were made in the roof of the central tower and the bastions. During the civil war the castle was occupied by parliamentary forces. In 1648 Charles I was held prisoner in the castle. Repairs were made to the castle between 1673 and 1675.
The tower was rebuilt around 1805 as part of the improvement of coastal defences during the Napoleonic wars. At some point in the early 19th century the moat was backfilled and a Caponier built to defend the dry ditch that was left. Considerable alterations were carried out in the late 19th century. In 1873 the space between the tower, curtain wall and bastions was filled with earth and concrete. At the same time a new east wing was built and a new entrance to the castle was driven through the north east bastion. Around 1889 the magazine roof was reinforced with more concrete and the tower roof was adapted for modern gun mountings. The staircases and rooms within the tower were also rebuilt. The castle was retained by the War Office until 1933 and then handed over to the Ministry Of Works. During the Second World War it was reoccupied by the army. (2)

Hurst Castle is in good condition and open to the public. (3)

Detailed information on the castle can be found in this source. This source covers the establishment of lighthouses at Hurst, including the two lighthouses which were built in the west wing of the castle. The earlier one was built into the rear wall in 1865 and was superseded by the adjacent iron lighthouse in 1911. These, together with the High Light, the free standing lighthouse built on the end of the spit between 1865 and 1867, represent surviving elements of a history of navigation lighting at Hurst which dates from 1786. (4)

Please refer to these sources for additional references. (5-7)

Listed by Cathcart King. (8)

A detailed description of the castle's history from 1540-1660 can be found in this source. (9)

Please refer to this source for and additional reference. (10)

Wall Painting located in the west wing battery, which had been designated a theatre by the soldiers stationed there during the Second World War. The wall painting appears to serve as a stage backdrop and depicts a kneeling male figure, hat held to his chest, who addresses a female figure in a dress which would appear to be of the Stuart period. Perhaps a reference to when Charles I was imprisoned at Hurst. The painting uses limited blocks colour and is simply executed; perhaps a stencil. It is likely the design was copied from a contemporary source such as a magazine. (11)

An advanced castle design with various firing levels. It was originally a twelve-sided tower with geometric curtain wall and three semi-circular bastions, surrounded by a moat crossed by a bridge. There are three building levels: basement, ground floor and first floor, which was at the same level as the parapet of two of the three bastions. The third bastion had a higher level. The castle had six tiers with embrasures or gun-ports, six flankers at the level of the moat and18 casements on the ground level. There were 11 embrasures in the curtain wall parapet, ten in the two lower bastions and six in the third taller bastion. The keep had eight gun-ports at the level of the parapets of two of the three bastions and twelve embrasures on the roof. (12)

One of the most advanced Henrician artillery forts built. It was also used as a prison for important 17th century captives and was later reinforced in the 19th and 20th centuries. (13)

Conservation statement for Hurst Castle. (14)


Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : OS 6" 1962
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Source Number : 2
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Ministry of Works. 1949. Hurst Castle Guide
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Source Number : 11
Source : Our painted past : wall paintings of English Heritage
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Source Number : 12
Source : The Castles of Henry VIII
Source details :
Page(s) : 25, 55
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Source Number : 13
Source : English Heritage Visitor Handbook 2009/10
Source details :
Page(s) : 65
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Source Number : 14
Source : Hurst Castle : a conservation statement
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Source Number : 3
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : 22/05/1969
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Source Number : 4
Source : Scheduled Monument Notification
Source details : 11/07/1997
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Source Number : 5
Source : Hurst Castle, Hampshire
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Source Number : 6
Source : Hurst Castle: the evolution of a Tudor fortress 1790-1945
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Source Number : 7
Source : Hurst Castle, Hampshire [official guide]
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Source Number : 8
Source : Castellarium anglicanum : an index and bibliography of the castles in England, Wales and the islands. Volume I : Anglesey - Montgomery
Source details :
Page(s) : 191
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Vol(s) : 1
Source Number : 9
Source : The history of the King's Works, volume 4 : 1485-1660 (Part 2)
Source details :
Page(s) : 539-44
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Source Number : 10
Source : Fort : the international journal of fortification and military architecture
Source details :
Page(s) : 81-2
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Vol(s) : 13, 1985

Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Tudor
Display Date : Built between 1541 and 1544
Monument End Date : 1544
Monument Start Date : 1541
Monument Type : Artillery Castle, Artillery Fort
Evidence : Extant Building
Monument Period Name : Stuart
Display Date : Occupied during Civil War
Monument End Date : 1651
Monument Start Date : 1642
Monument Type : Artillery Castle, Prison
Evidence : Extant Building
Monument Period Name : Stuart
Display Date : Repaired 1673-5
Monument End Date : 1675
Monument Start Date : 1673
Monument Type : Artillery Castle
Evidence : Extant Building
Monument Period Name : Hanoverian
Display Date : Tower rebuilt 1805
Monument End Date : 1805
Monument Start Date : 1805
Monument Type : Artillery Castle
Evidence : Extant Building
Monument Period Name : Victorian
Display Date : Built 1850s
Monument End Date : 1859
Monument Start Date : 1850
Monument Type : Coastal Battery, Dock
Evidence : Extant Building
Monument Period Name : Victorian
Display Date : Rebuilt 1860s
Monument End Date : 1869
Monument Start Date : 1860
Monument Type : Artillery Castle, Lighthouse, Coastal Battery
Evidence : Extant Building
Monument Period Name : Victorian
Display Date : Repaired 1890s
Monument End Date : 1899
Monument Start Date : 1890
Monument Type : Artillery Castle, Coastal Battery
Evidence : Extant Building
Monument Period Name : Early 20th Century
Display Date : Built 1911
Monument End Date : 1911
Monument Start Date : 1911
Monument Type : Lighthouse
Evidence : Extant Structure
Monument Period Name : Second World War
Display Date : Second World War
Monument End Date : 1945
Monument Start Date : 1939
Monument Type : Coastal Battery, Army Camp, Wall Painting
Evidence : Extant Building, Modified Surface

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (County No.)
External Cross Reference Number : HA 137
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (National No.)
External Cross Reference Number : 26716
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : ViewFinder
External Cross Reference Number : NMR 15700/29
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : EH Property Number
External Cross Reference Number : 193
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : ViewFinder
External Cross Reference Number : HT02602
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : SZ 38 NW 1
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Associated Monuments : 1429138
Relationship type : General association

Related Activities :
Associated Activities : Primary, FIELD OBSERVATION ON SZ 38 NW 1
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1969-05-22
End Date : 1969-05-22
Associated Activities : Primary, HIGH LIGHTHOUSE, HURST SPIT
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 1997-01-01
End Date : 1997-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, HURST CASTLE, KEYHAVEN
Activity type : ARCHITECTURAL SURVEY
Start Date : 1997-01-01
End Date : 1997-12-31