I while away many an hour browsing the old newspapers. In all probability searching for something in particular, but more often than not getting totally distracted and wander off on a tangent.
Sometimes it does pay off though.
I came across this brilliant article in the Illustrated Times August 2nd 1862, the very period when Weymouth and Portland’s fortifications were taking shape, arising from the rocks.
The bit that caught me eye was an image of Sandfoot Castle, or as it was referred to in the newspaper, Sandesfort Castle.
‘Old Weymouth castle or sandesfort is now a mass of ruins, as shown in sketch on page 220. the entire work is usually ascribed to Henry VIII., who really erected the beautiful piece of masonry now reduced to such a sad state of decay. It was, indeed, an elegant structure, and well chosen as a military position. The half-moon battery in its front, and which crested the cliff has been swept away with much of the building in its rear by the inroads of the sea. the earthworks, with bastion-angles landward, we believe to have been added subsequently, probably some time in the reign of Elizabeth, or even later. It is much to be regretted that decay has been allowed to proceed so far; had the battery remained it would have been even now of very great service, so much so that we believe some detatched fort on this site, or at no great distance from it, will still be required.
The Defence commissioners, impressed by this view, have resolved on the purchase of the beach from the Nothe to the West Bay.
To view the ruin satisfactorily a short and very pleasant walk on the cliffs will be requisite, but the Nothe batteries are best seen by taking the steamer to Portland, which disembarks its passengers precisely at the point most favourable for examining the defences and the breakwater.
Now I’ve seen, and indeed collected, many a view of this iconic landmark, but never showing these earth defences.
In 1862 the writer suggests they might have been created after Elizabeth’s reign, but I just wonder if they could possible be linked to the Civil War?