There were several places that are on my must see list. Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door, so it seemed a good opportunity to visit. But yet another disastrous time as the rain now began to come down in earnest. The sky was grey, the scenery indistinguishable, the wind howled, and Thebus was rocked around. So although I paid for a day’s parking I didn’t even bother to get out, except in a couple of intervals of lighter drizzle to allow Little Miss Phoebe to stretch her legs. The cold and rain, plus being in all day meant that I used far more LPG ,which irritatingly it meant a return trip to Dorchester. Silly me. This time I intended to arrive extra early when they opened at six o’clock so that I would be able to get to the correct side of the pumps to fill the house tank.
If anything the garage was even busier than last time, but now I simply had to fill up. So on the principle that ‘might is right’ I just had to push in, and make everyone else reverse out of the way so I could get to the pump, and when I did I blocked off four of the filling zones. Mind you when I left there was almost no-one there, so perhaps Thebus bulk put everyone else off.
And now it was back down to the coast again as the weekend was approaching when I would be able to visit the village of Tyneham, though that was not open until Saturday. However Lulworth Castle was so I decided to take a look at that.
Having left the filling station before seven it was dark as I headed towards the coast through what were probably delightful Devon villages. Of course it was still pitch black and now all the commuters who lived out in such charming country places were rushing to work and all coming towards me. There was lots of pulling in on my part as I was not sure if they were aware of how wide Thebus actually is. But when I met a crane lorry coming the other way and I pulled in and flashed him forwards, he did the same to me – and assuming he had better local knowledge and his bit of the road was better for passing I edged forwards. I suppose its called living and learning. For a start off I forgot to put on the excellent docking lights which Dave had fitted for me earlier in the year, so once past his headlights I really couldn’t see what was going on behind on the opposite side to the driver’s seat. We almost made safely through, but the rear arm of the awning just caught him and that was it. Other than that there was no real damage to either of us, but it meant my awning was completely caput, and I had been intending to sail for France early next week. Still, there was nothing which could be done now, and having made everything secure I just headed on.
Lulworth Castle is set in the most beautiful area, and the grounds round it are wonderfully landscaped with a mixture of happy natural beauty and artful tree planting.
The castle itself was built between 1588 and 1601 as a hunting lodge to entertain important visitors, and was then purchased in 1641 by Humphrey Weld, who descendants still own it today.
Unfortunately in the 1929 it suffered a disastrous fire, and the family being uninsured simply abandoned it. Some of the old photographs made for interesting viewing.
I have to say this newspaper article took my fancy. The family with true upper class British aplomb sitting watching it burn while the servants manfully try to rescue the contents. And is he smoking a cigar?
However in recent times English Heritage has come to its rescue and an immense amount of work has been done. It is now possible to climb to the very top of the towers, via a very sturdy, but slightly vertigo inducing stairway, with even more stairs than I had suffered at Portland Bill lighthouse. But the views of the beautiful countryside around the castle made up for the climb
The family – as many old Cornish families – were staunch Roman Catholics and in the grounds a short way from the castle is a most attractive Roman Catholic Chapel, designed to look like a Classical garden building.
Built in 1786 Weld family tradition tells that King George III gave his permission to “build a mausoleum and you may furnish it inside as you wish”. Thus St Mary’s became the first free standing Roman Catholic Chapel to be built for public worship in England since the Reformation.
In 1789 the King and Queen Charlotte visited the Chapel and gave their approval. And in 1790, John Carroll, the first Roman Catholic bishop in the United States was consecrated here.
So the castle stands between its two churches. Church of England on one side and Roman Catholic on the other
On the way in that morning I had stopped at the entrance gates not far from these lovely old thatched Dorset cottages, of a type which seem prevalent in the area, and particularly round Lulworth
Apart from taking a quick snap I had wanted to measure the entrance gates to make sure there was sufficient width to get Thebus through, and there was plenty – well about 6 or 7 inches on either side. So it never occurred to me that I might not be able to get out again.
Having had a lovely day at the castle I went to drive out, and found that the sensible one-way system they had instigated now took me though a different and narrower set of gates – so narrow there was no hope of Thebus getting through. But it was only when I had driven though another quite narrow gateway and small section of road that I made this worrying discovery.
Fortunately one of the ladies I had spoken with earlier in the day was just leaving for home, so she stood behind me whilst I tentatively backed up, then drove the wrong way down the drive to escape via the narrow, but not too narrow gateway I had used in the morning.