In the grounds of Durlston Country Park sits a beautiful, restored Victorian faux castle that stands looking out over the sea, set in acres of unique parkland.
Durlston Castle is not only striking to look at, but is Durlston’s day-to-day hub of activity, with regular art exhibitions at its Fine Foundation gallery, live music events and interactive displays.
The Castle is also home to the park’s visitor centre, café and gift shop, which sells a range of wildlife and nature-inspired souvenirs and gifts, including useful wildlife-spotting items such as books, binoculars and bird food.
Gift shop & visitor centre
Durlston Castle is a great place to either start your day – pick up a map, activity pack or guide – as well as to finish your day of exploring.
You can pick up a souvenir of your visit in the gift shop, see what the volunteers have been making at Durlston’s community work-base, The Shed, and learn more about Durlston’s history.
Fine Foundation Gallery
Often exploring themes of wildlife and nature, the regular exhibitions at Durlston’s gallery showcase the work of artists from around the country, as well as local artists who celebrate the landscape and history of Swanage, Purbeck and the Jurassic Coast through their work.
The modern space is also an increasingly popular venue for live music and performances.
For an up-to-date list of exhibitions check Durlston’s events calendar: www.durlston.co.uk/events.aspx
Seventhwave restaurant and café
Stop for a well-deserved and delicious slice of coffee fudge cake or a caramel slice and sit either inside or on the terrace and enjoy views across the bay and to the Isle of Wight.
Serving breakfasts and lunches using seasonal and locally-sourced ingredients, Seventhwave is a truly local dining experience.
Menus often feature freshly-caught fish and seafood, and dishes can be prepared to accommodate dietary requirements.
Restaurant opening times and contact
The Seventhwave café is open seven days a week as follows:
- Breakfast 10am – 11.15am
- Lunch 12 – 3.30pm
- Tea and cakes 10am – 3.30pm
To check the latest menu options or to make a booking visit the restaurant’s website: 7eventhwave.com
📞 01929 421111
Castle opening times
The castle and visitor centre is open throughout the year as follows:
Late spring, summer and autumn
- 10.30am – 5.00pm
- (1 April – 31 October)
Winter & early spring
- 10.30am – 4.00pm
- (1st November – 31st March)
Note that the castle is closed on Christmas Day and Boxing Day.
Weddings and private hire
If you’re planning your big day in Purbeck, Durlston Castle provides a romantic setting with unrivalled views.
With two areas licensed for civil marriages (the gallery and the Belvedere room), with the additional option of placing a marquee in the park near to the Park’s Learning Centre to accommodate a larger number of guests, there is plenty of flexibility for your celebration.
The Belvedere Room is particularly popular with couples celebrating their special day, with its glass sides providing panoramic views across Durlston Bay.
Durlston wedding fairs
If you’re starting to look at venues for your special day, Durlston Castle often holds wedding fairs, which showcase the very best of local wedding planning, catering and entertainment.
You can meet the teams behind many of Dorset’s most unique weddings, sample food, view a selection of wedding and bridesmaid dresses, and stroll around this stunning venue to experience what your wedding at Durlston could feel like.
There’s a spiral staircase that ascends to the Belvedere Room, the very top of the castle, which provides an intimate setting with uninterrupted 360° views through its glass windows. Outside there are balconies providing you and your guests spectacular views across the sea toward Swanage, Bournemouth and the Isle of Wight.
Your wedding reception can take place in the spacious gallery area downstairs, which also has great sea views and dance floor and/or band area. The space comfortably seats 90 guests or, for larger parties, enquire about an outdoor marquee.
Plan your wedding with Durlston’s dedicated wedding planner
To help your big day go without a hitch or for inspiration on the finer details, get in touch with Durlston’s dedicated wedding planners, Blue Bay Events.
Visit their website or get in touch with Polly and the team who are specialists in creating memorable celebrations, tailor-made to you:
- ℹ️ www.bluebayevents.co.uk
- 📥 email@example.com
- 📞 01929 509900
The rooms at Durlston Castle are also available for general functions, such as parties, meetings and themed events.
Prices for general hire of the Belvedere room
Daytime slots can be booked during the castle’s opening hours (10am – 4pm or 5pm, season depending).
Evening sessions run from 6pm – 10pm and have a maximum capacity of 50 people.
- Two hours – £105
- Three hours – £150
- Four hours – £195
- All day or evening hire – £350
Durlston Castle’s history
Fully-restored in 2011, the castle has come a long way from its Victorian beginnings.
The folly castle was the vision of Swanage-born George Burt who, along with his uncle and business partner John Mowlem, is regarded as one of the founding fathers of the town we know and love today.
Burt was passionate about Swanage and its surrounding area and, after purchasing land around Durlston Head, he rebranded the area as the Durlston Estate.
In 1862 Burt constructed a folly overlooking the sea and named it Durlston Castle. It was initially used as a restaurant and attraction of his Durlston Estate.
A key feature of the castle’s exterior is the imposing Great Globe, one of the many artefacts of Burt’s legacy in Swanage, as well as stone plaques inscribed with carved engravings of Bible quotes, snippets of English and Roman poetry, as well as information about the natural world.
Now owned by Dorset Council, the castle remains a key attraction in Swanage and serves as the base for many local events and retains its use as a restaurant.