High up in the Purbeck hills, guarding the main route from Swanage to Wareham, stands one
of the noblest and saddest ruins in England.
Durandus the carpenter / ingeniator (engineer), one of William the Conqueror’s officials, was ordered in 1086 to work and make repairs on the great tower. Whether he organised the building of the tower of timber or of stone we don’t know, as information is vague.
All these early engineers were skilled in a variety of mediums including; timber, stone. glass and lead. One of the rewards Durandus received for his services was possession of the manor of Moulham.
It is believed to be here that Robert de Bellême died on the 8th May 1131 after 17 years of incarceration and buried, it is thought, in an unmarked grave beyond the castle walls. Robert had been entrapped and sentenced to perpetual imprisonment by his arch-enemy, King Henry I.
From 1199 to 1216 during the reign of King John, works were carried out on the outer bailey, the enceinte, the second, third and fourth towers of the west curtain wall and the "Gloriette". Over the years it was a favourite castle for the English Kings.
Having successfully held out against parliamentary troops on the first siege during the civil war, Lady Bankes, the owner and supporter of King Charles I, was betrayed during the second siege and had to capitulate. An act of Parliament in 1645 was passed and a Captain Hughes and his sappers demolished the castle using gunpowder, resulting in the mournful ruins we see today.
The castle is now the property of the National Trust.
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