“People who remember the castle as it was cannot believe how it is now”, said Heather Bell, Chair of Friends of Durlston.
“The funding has restored the castle to what its builder George Burt originally intended it to be – somewhere for the local community to enjoy and a celebration of the natural world.”
The castle has always attracted visitors thanks to its location on the Jurassic Coast within the World Heritage site of Durlston Country Park in Swanage, but Lottery funding has breathed new life into it.
Now it is the hub of activity for the park, housing the new visitor centre and hosting a range of exhibitions and activities.
The restoration involved rebuilding whole parts of the castle and installing stairs to the roof for the first time so visitors can take in the stunning coastal views.
Disabled access has been improved and the walk to the castle features a timeline with key dates and famous quotes, reflecting the historical importance of the area and George Burt’s interest in the arts.
Since being restored the castle has attracted up to 2,000 visitors a day. The new restaurant is also popular and has created new jobs for the area.
Durlston Castle won Best Heritage Project in the 2012 National Lottery Awards.