Credit: 408 Photography
The extent of the damage at Hurst Castle near Lymington is being assessed, after a large section of sea wall collapsed on Friday.
English Heritage said that until a storm earlier in the week, there had been "no signs of any major structural problems" to the 18th century east wing.
Around 38 metres of wall collapsed on Friday afternoon (February 26), after the sea exposed and undercut its foundations.
The castle was closed to the public at the time. Thankfully, there were no injuries.
Staff from English Heritage’s engineering team were on site when the incident occurred and they are continuing to inspect the damaged area and identify the immediate work necessary to stabilise the surrounding masonry.
This is a devastating blow to a Hampshire icon and for all of us whose life’s work is to protect England’s historic buildings. Hurst Castle is the most challenging of our sites to protect – a coastal fort built on a shingle spit directly facing the hammering sea. Faced with more frequent storms and rising sea levels, Hurst Castle is emblematic of the issues posed by climate change to our heritage.
Located at the western end of the Solent, Hurst Castle was originally built by Henry VIII between 1541 and 1544 to guard the Needles Passage, the narrow western entrance between the Isle of Wight and the mainland.
In the 1860s two huge wings were added, on the east and west side of the central structure, as part of a programme of defence that made this part of the south coast one of the most heavily fortified in the world.
In the First and Second World Wars the castle was fully garrisoned and its searchlights and guns guarded the entrance to the Solent.
English Heritage said that in 2019, it undertook an extensive programme of works totalling £750,000 to stabilise the foundations of the west wing of the castle and to reinforce its sea defences.
The charity underpinned the west wing’s foundations, replaced broken groynes and barriers, and replenished the beach with 7,500 tonnes of shingle.
The charity told ITV News that two years earlier, it invested £1m in a major project to repair and conserve the castle’s roof.
The charity had been days away from commencing works to underpin the east wing of the castle, whose foundations, similar to the castle’s west wing, were being eroded by the sea.
However, there were no signs of any major structural problems until a storm on 23 February prompted a rapid descent from stability to the collapse of an approximately 38 metre section of the east wing wall.