Hurst Castle – Partial collapse of the seaward wall of the east wing

Solent Protection Society have expressed concern about the deteriorating state of Hurst Castle for the past two winters seasons and like many, were saddened to see the damage by the partial collapse of the east wing’s seaward wall on Friday February 26th.

Still from Drone footage by ExploreWithin – Click link to view video.

We were in contact with New Forest District Council and the National Park authority on the subject of the erosion of the Spit at the site of Hurst Castle in the autumn of 2019. We are conscious that responsibility for the Spit is complicated, and while both authorities denied any responsibility for the part of the Spit on which the castle is sited, we note that reinforcement work has since been undertaken to those parts of the Spit under their care.  In conversation with Alison Naylor, from English Heritage at an SPS Council Meeting in September 2019, we understood that English Heritage foresaw difficulties with funding their part of the works. It is unfortunate that there is no satisfactory national funding system to preserve heritage assets.

Since that time and given the very visible damage to the foundations underpinning the structure, we have remained concerned and were looking forward to reporting on the remedial works which were due to commence this month.  We published an article in our autumn 2019 members’ newsletter, reproduced here on this site, highlighting our concern, and an article written by our previous Chair, David Sizer, for ‘The Yachter’ also available here.

The slideshow below shows historical imagery of the castle site from Google Earth, the first image, with the castle location obscured, taken from wartime aerial reconnaissance.

English Heritage’s primary stated objective for conservation is to conserve England’s ‘historic sites and artefacts, putting those with the greatest need first’. We will be writing to English Heritage to ask for their position on where
Hurst Castle sits in their list of priorities and what their plan of action will be.

Given its location at the western gateway to the Solent, the preservation of this site is as important to Solent Protection Society as the protection of the Spit on which it was built.

Updated – March 5 2021 – For a more detailed discussion of the evolution of Hurst Spit, please see this article.