Sandsfoot Castle was built by Henry VIII between 1539 and 1541 to work with Portland Castle to protect the waters of the Portland Roads against the threat of foreign invasion. Standing on the cliff edge, the castle has been under attack from coastal erosion since it was built.
Most of the ashlar stone has been lost to local building projects and thieves. The castle has been closed to the public since the 1930s. The project was part funded by the HLF and consisted of conservation treatment to the stonework and the insertion of a new lightweight walkway to open the castle up to the public once more. The stone conservation work was carried out in lime mortars, with small-scale reinforcement and supporting interventions to conserve the castle as found. Soft cappings were installed on the wall tops as an alternative to the existing cement cappings. The walkway was critical to the project to allow public access to the castle and to encourage local ownership of the site. It was designed to be a lightweight element sitting elegantly within the ruined castle at the level of the former floor. It touches the castle fabric in as few places as possible, using some fallen ashlar stone as padstones. It extends through a doorway on the seaward side, allowing a view of Portland Harbour that the castle was built to protect. The continuous timber handrail provides a comfortable place to lean and is supported by two continuous rows of balusters.
Galvanized steel was chosen as a robust and economic material for the structure of the walkway and forming barriers to accessing the interior of the castle walls, it is accompanied by sawn oak boards and an oiled oak handrail. The simple palette complements the rough castle walls in a functional but pleasingly tactile way.
Architect: Levitate Architects
Image: Levitate Architects