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Wessex FM News

New Look To Historic Castle


Published at 12:02am 6th May 2012.

People visiting Portland Castle from today will notice a dramatic difference.

The English Heritage site has been revamped to make it a better experience for those who come to have a look around.

Among the additions is a Tudor kitchen, which looks exactly as it would have when the castle was first build, along with new audio guides and the chance to dress up in the armoury.

Paul Pattison, Senior Historian at English Heritage commented: "It is important that we regularly update the visitor experience at Portland Castle to ensure we are always showcasing its best and most exciting features. These new additions really help to illustrate how the castle once was and we hope that new visitors, as well as old friends, will enjoy a day at the castle that is engaging, educational and most importantly fun!"

Built in the early 1540's to protect against French and Spanish invasion, Portland Castle is one of nine forts built in the UK and is in near perfect condition due to its excellent preservation.

As visitors first enter the property, they'll encounter a new model of the fort, consisting of three tactile layers that peel away for onlookers to see the castle in its entirety. This provides a great visual sense of what visitors are about to discover, adding a real sense of exploration to their visit.  

A new audio tour telling tales of the castle's 450 year history is available to guide visitors back in time. Information panels throughout the tour also help to bring the history to life with detailed imagery and timelines. The panels incorporate 'A Day in a Life of a Soldier', as well as life size cut-out soldier figures for visitors to get a grasp of who previously inhabited the castle. Visitors can put themselves in the shoes of some of these characters from the past by dressing up in the armoury and handling weapons of yester year.

A number of historical games have also been added, providing an insight into the sorts of activities that would have been enjoyed centuries ago. In addition a new interactive challenge has been installed at the castle, designed specifically to demonstrate how cannons would have been used to protect the castle.

As part of the changes made at the castle, fragments of a stain glass window found in the 1950's have now been brought back to their former glory. Precious little remains of the original castle interiors but it is hoped that this reconstruction will go some way in helping to piece together the once imposing atmosphere inside.

The exciting new features - both inside and out - help refresh the interpretation of the castle, enabling visitors to immerse themselves in Portland Castle's history and the important role it has played in Weymouth and Portland's past.  Visitors to the castle can also enjoy dramatic views over Portland Harbour and relaxing strolls around the Governor's Garden, which was designed by Christopher Bradley-Hole as part of the Contemporary Heritage Garden series.

Over the Bank Holiday visitors will have a chance to explore these new additions, plus talk with characters from history brought back for English Heritage's Portland Castle Through the Ages event.  Performers from Griffin Historical will entertain children and adults alike with their 'show and tell' of historic artefacts and time-travelling antics.  A 'Tudor Housewife' will provide real life insight into the daily life of past residents as she demonstrates textile work, spinning and weaving, a 'WWII soldier' will take children through their paces in a fun assault course and mock rifle drill and an Henrican squire will teach the art of 'Junior Jousting'.

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