Hurst Castle is situated on a spit of land that extends out from Milford-on-Sea. At it’s furthest edge the shingle bank is less than a mile away from the Isle of Wight. This then makes it an ideal place to protect Southampton Water from unwanted invaders. The French to be specific. The original fortification was built by Henry 8th as part of his range of coastal fortifications that extend from Dorset to Kent. Camber Castle, near to Hastings is one the 30 of these Device Forts built. The view above looks east, taken from the western side of the castle. The Isle of Wight is the land in the middle right of the photograph.
Â The original castle is in the centre of the fortification. Since it was constructed it has been used as a prison, and as a site for smuggling during when in disrepair at the end of the 1700s. Â The two wings were added in around 1860 during the Napoleonic Wars. Since then it has been added to and altered to suit different threats and changing technology. After the Second World War Hurst Castle became obsolete and was acquired by English Heritage.
If you are planning to visit you can take a 20 minute ferry ride from Keyhaven or walk down the shingle spit from Milton-on-Sea. There is much to see at there. The many changes the fort has gone through is very much evident. Two 38 ton guns remain in place from 1870, as well other military hardware used there. Also on site is an exhibition about lighthouses and searchlights.
Whilst exploring you can get a good feel of how the place operated. The track used to move shells about runs the full length of the fort. You can access a good number of the rooms and magazines, some of which are very dark and damp, as the photo below shows.
The central keep provides access to the highest point of the building. You get up there using a staircase at the very centre of the keep. The views from the top are fantastic of course, especially on a day like the one I was there on. The last two photos show the staircase and views from the top. As always clicking on them will open up a new window where you can view them larger, either on my Flickr page or Panoramio.