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English Heritage announces completion of work to stabilise Hurst Castle's east wing a year after collapse



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HURST Castle’s east wing has been stabilised a year after part of it collapsed into the sea as a £3m protection scheme continues.

English Heritage announced the breakthrough today (Friday) ahead of tomorrow’s first anniversary of the collapse at the historic building, at the end of the spit stretching from Milford, after the sea exposed and undercut its foundations.

A new permanent revetment sea defence to protect the 19th century east wing for the next 50 years will be completed soon.

Hurst Castle after the collapse (photo: Zack Maynard)
Hurst Castle after the collapse (photo: Zack Maynard)

But the conservation charity warned the “most challenging of heritage sites” still faces various threats from coastal erosion to harsh sea storms.

It will carry out a major technical feasibility study – expected to take at least six months – to assess how best to protect the castle and the spit, which are at the forefront of sea level rise and climate change.

The east and west wings, as well as the beach, will remain closed throughout the work.

Since the collapse on 26th February 2021, contractors have transported 22,000 tonnes of shingle and rock armour along the spit to protect the east wing.

English Heritage committed approximately £3m, supported by the Culture Recovery Fund, towards stabilising the breach and protecting Hurst Castle. It brought in specialists including those skilled in marine engineering and coastal defence construction.

Estates director Rob Woodside said: “We have always been clear that there can be no quick fix to the complex issues facing the castle.

“This is an ever-changing environment and despite our efforts, Hurst Castle’s east wing and west wing – where we have also detected movement – are at risk from myriad threats; from coastal erosion to harsh sea storms.

“With changes in longshore drift, rising sea levels and more frequent storms, Hurst Castle is amongst the most difficult heritage sites to protect in England.”

Hurst Castle during repair work (photo: English Heritage)
Hurst Castle during repair work (photo: English Heritage)

There are complex management issues, with the site falling under the jurisdiction of marine and other agencies as well as English Heritage’s responsibility to respect its historical significance.

Mr Woodside added: “The threat of coastal erosion and climate change are threats also faced by heritage organisations around the world. We’re hoping, through our work, to share lessons learnt with those facing similar challenges.”

As reported in the A&T, the east wing’s collapse came days before English Heritage was due to start a programme of works to underpin it.

A temporary revetment sea defence was built and, in November 2021, contractors injected a special resin to stabilise the foundations either side of the breach. Archaeologically significant material was catalogued as they cleared the fallen stonework.

This was completed before Christmas and then the groynes to the west of the revetment were repaired with the addition of a further 2,000 tonnes of shingle which has once again become depleted.

The monument, which is managed by Hurst Marine on behalf of English Heritage, will partially reopen on 1st April for visitors to tour the Tudor keep.

A regular ferry service will run from Keyhaven, and refreshments will be available outside the castle entrance.

For more information visit english-heritage.org.uk/Hurst

To book castle tickets visit hurstcastle.co.uk



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