By playing the British National Lottery, players are supporting some important and deserving projects. In 2008 the Durlston Castle Project successfully applied for a grant of £3.23 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The money from the UK lottery draw was earmarked for improvements to the castle including new kitchens, alarms, exhibitions, displays and improved access to the site. The improved building, leased by Dorset County Council, was finally opened to the public on Friday 18 November 2011 with displays by local artists and about the environment and history of Durlston. Part of the transformation funded by the UK lottery draw included a new restaurant and cafe already popular with residents and visitors alike.
Durlston Castle is at the centre of the Durlston Country Park and Nature Reserve to be found just one mile from the thriving seaside town of Swanage. The area includes an amazing array of cliffs, downland, hedgerows and woodland and access to the park is encouraged with Durlston castle as the focal point and visitor centre.
The park is based on a private estate created by construction magnate George Burt, who was largely responsible for some interesting buildings in his native town of Swanage, as manager and partner of the large Mowlem construction company. He used architectural features sourced and shipped from projects in London.
Burt lived in a large house, Purbeck House (now a hotel), in the centre of the town, and intended Durlston Castle as the centre of a new suburb of Durlston. The development did not happen but the castle was built (between 1887 and 1891) and much of the land turned instead into the country park seen today.
In a time when politicians threaten to destroy green areas through development, it is refreshing to see the UK lottery draw helping to maintain areas like Durlston Castle and Country Park for the enjoyment of all.
Discover more about Durlston Park at the Durlston.co.uk website.