Rufus Castle

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Rufus Castle, also known as Bow and Arrow Castle, is a ruined castle overlooking Church Ope Cove on Portland, England. The castle dates from the late 15th century, on the site of an earlier building (with origins dating from 1142) - making it Portland's oldest castle. Built on a pinnacle of rock, much of the original castle has been lost to erosion and collapse over the years.

The remaining castle appears to have been the keep of a stronghold, the foundation of which was much above the top of the church tower of St. Andrews which lay in the valley below. The pentagonal tower of the castle has late Medieval gunholes, but rests uncomfortably on an earlier foundation to the north and stepped plinth to the west which may have been a 12th-century keep.[1][2] Remains include parts of the keep, outer bailey, sections of wall with gun ports and a 19th-century round-arched bridge across Church Ope Road.

The castle, including its bridge, has been a Grade I listed building since January 1951. It is one of three buildings on Portland to be Grade I Listed.[3] In addition to this, the castle has become a scheduled monument under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979.[4]

History

In ancient times for defence against attack, taxes were raised on the island to construct Portland's first castle. Rufus Castle was reportedly built for William II and that the structure still standing in ruins today was probably the keep of a larger castle.[5] In 1142, Robert, Earl of Gloucester, had captured the castle from King Stephen on behalf of Empress Maud. It had additional fortifications added in 1238 by Richard de Clare who owned it at that time.[6] Around 1256, Aylmer de Lusignan obtained a licence to crenellate the 'insulam de Portand' and Robert, Earl of Gloucester, was granted a similar licence just 14 months later. It is generally presumed that Rufus castle is the site of any work that may have resulted from these licences and any remains that may date from the period exist only at foundation level, or have been lost to cliff erosion.[1]

The castle was rebuilt in the 15th century between 1432–60, by Richard, Duke of York, and much of what remains today dates from this time.[7] The politician and writer John Penn built his Gothic Revival mansion overlooking Church Ope Cove, between 1797 and 1800. He also rebuilt the seaward arch of Rufus Castle, and erected a bridge over the lane leading to Church Ope.[8] In 1989, the castle's seaward arch collapsed and saw other serious damage around that time. By the end of the century English Heritage had proposed to do a restoration to save the castle.[9]

File:Rufus Castle Portland Dorset.jpg
Rufus Castle from the public footpath.

Extensive restoration and consolidation work was carried out to Rufus Castle in 2010-2012 on behalf of English Heritage, under their scheme of repair and urgent works.[10] The castle had been listed on the Heritage at Risk Register in 2010.[11] Circa mid-2008, the castle was listed as being ruinous and in need of conservation repair and consolidation.[12][13]

Work began in 2010 by historic building and church architect Russ Palmer of Honiton, Devon. With the aid of the English Heritage grant, the project firstly involved investigation of the condition of the castle and the implementation of the first stage of recommended repairs. Extensive repairs were needed, initially to the north walls. Palmer produced a specification for the work and after competitive tenders were obtained, work was carried out by Carrek Ltd between May and October 2010 for a cost of £150,000. The work included the consolidation of the top of the walls and the exposed core at low level, grouting voids between the core and the face of the wall, and repointing. The work was finished by November 2010.[14][15]

Castle design

File:Geograph-3180518-by-Chris-Andrews.jpg
The top of the castle's bridge and entrance.

The castle, constructed in the form of a pentagon, has 7-foot-thick walls pierced by numerous loop-holes meant to allow archers to fire at attackers. This gave the castle an alternative name; "Bow and Arrow" Castle.[7] It is built with Portland stone, with the walls roughly built of native ashlar.[16] Rufus Castle features walls of roughly squared rubble and no roof. Three of the sides of the castle are considerably longer than the others.[17]

In the north and west walls, at first-floor level, are five embrasures, with circular gunports. Outside the south gateway are the remains of stone footings. There are no longer any trace remains of the "steppes of stone" that were referred to in Gorse's Antiquities and Coker's Dorset; the steps connected the castle and the old church of St. Andrew.[17]

Ownership

Rufus Castle is within the grounds and ownership of the adjoining Castle Keep, and was formerly part of the estate of the nearby Pennsylvania Castle. According to Mark Watson, the previous owners had felt that the castle was such a liability that they sold it to him for £1 in 1997. Watson intended to turn the castle into a tourist attraction. Watson said in 1997 that "People may think it's a mad scheme, but I'm sure it will work. I want to set up a fund and restore it as a local bit of heritage and a tourist attraction." However the plan never materialised.[18]

Although the castle remains privately owned, the castle allows visitors access to the exterior only from 10am-2pm on a number of dates from April–September. Situated next to the castle is a bungalow and private gardens with an outdoor swimming pool which has no public access. Any visitors to the castle are directed to go through a stone archway at bottom of Wakeham, near the museum, and follow down the private road past a bungalow, and finally ring the bell to let the occupants know you are visiting their grounds.[19]

See also

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 "Rufus Castle (The Gatehouse Record)". Gatehouse-gazetteer.info. 10 December 2012. Retrieved 31 December 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Detailed Record". Imagesofengland.org.uk. Retrieved 31 December 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1280727)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 2 October 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1002698)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 2 October 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Historic England. "Monument No. 451726". PastScape. Retrieved 2 October 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "Pennsylvania Castle and Church Ope, Portland". Geoffkirby.co.uk. 3 April 2003. Retrieved 31 December 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. 7.0 7.1 "Rufus Castle, Portland, Dorset, Travel Information". Britainexpress.com. Retrieved 31 December 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Morris, Stuart (1985). Portland: An Illustrated History. Dovecote Press. p. 47. ISBN 978-0946159345.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Morris, Stuart (1990). Portland Camera. Dovecote Press. pp. Photo 15. ISBN 978-0946159796.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "English Heritage | English Heritage". Risk.english-heritage.org.uk. Retrieved 8 October 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "Rufus Castle (The Gatehouse Record)". Gatehouse-gazetteer.info. 27 September 2013. Retrieved 8 October 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "Historic treasures at risk from neglect (From Dorset Echo)". Dorsetecho.co.uk. 8 July 2008. Retrieved 8 October 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. http://risk.english-heritage.org.uk/register.aspx?id=46823&rt=1&pn=1&st=a&di=Weymouth+and+Portland&ctype=all&crit=
  14. "Rufus Castle, Portland: portfolio of Peter Gunning and Partners, chartered quantity surveyors, construction and cost consultants". Pgandp.co.uk. Retrieved 8 October 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. "Rufus Castle, Portland » RUSS PALMER - Historic Building and Church Architect". Russpalmerarchitecture.com. Retrieved 8 October 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. "Portland - Weymouth, Dorset,England - Portland & Portland Bill". Weymouth-dorset.co.uk. Retrieved 31 December 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. 17.0 17.1 Portland Urban District Council (Late 1950s). Isle of Portland Official Guide. Ed. J. Burrow & Co. Ltd., Publishers - Chelternham and London. p. 21. Check date values in: |date= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. "Hello darling... I'm king of the pounds 1 castle. - Free Online Library". Thefreelibrary.com. Retrieved 31 December 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/grant-aided-properties/rufus-castle-church-ope-road-dt5-1bx/

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