Pennsylvania Castle’s dramatic setting on the cliffs above a secluded cove in Portland, Dorset, is hard to fault, with stunning views over the landscaped gardens to the sea. The Jurassic Coast is famous for its stunning scenery, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, with many unspoilt beaches in the local area. A pathway from the gardens leads past the romantic ruins of the 13th century St Andrews Church and directly down to the idyllic Church Ope Cove, just a few minutes’ walk from the castle. The village of Portland with a selection of pubs, restaurants and shops is a ten minute walk from Pennsylvania Castle, with the cosmopolitan town of Weymouth around 15 minutes’ drive away.
The castle has a long and illustrious history, with many distinguished patrons over the years. Construction of the castle began in 1797 when King George III offered the land to Mr John Penn, the grandson of the founder of Pennsylvania in the USA, William Penn. Pennsylvania Castle was opened in 1800 by the daughter of King George III, Princess Elizabeth, and shortly after opening played host to the King and Queen on their wedding anniversary. The castle has also played in important role in the Napoleonic Wars and preparations for the D-Day landings, as well as hosting various important figures such as Thomas Hardy. The castle has since been made into a hotel in 1950, then back into private residence again in 1994, before undergoing a major renovation in recent years creating the luxurious home it is today.
The imposing reception hall creates a grand and dramatic entrance to this beautiful castle. From here, doors lead to a cosy snug room with comfortable sofas, a work desk and a flat screen television, with lovely views over the courtyard and garden. Across the corridor from the entrance hall, the library is a wonderful round room set in a turret, with three huge windows affording wonderful sea views. There are two oversized sofas and reading chairs, providing a great space to find some quiet time.
A large conservatory connects between the library and drawing room, with extensive sea views and two sets of double doors leading directly onto the terrace. One end of the conservatory houses plentiful comfortable seating, whilst the other end has a dining table and chairs for up to 10 people for informal meals. This room is licenced for weddings of up to 40 people inside and 100 people seated on the external terrace.
A highlight of Pennsylvania Castle has to be the stunning drawing room. This fabulous room is extremely spacious and is flooded with natural light thanks to the huge floor to ceiling dual aspect bay windows and French doors leading to the swimming pool terrace, with the most amazing views over the coast. There are large sofas and a dining table seating 10/12 people comfortably, with stunning French crystal chandeliers and beautiful mahogany parquet flooring. The large flat screen TV has Sky HD and there is a Bose surround sound system for entertaining your guests.
The dining room is fabulous room for entertaining, large enough to seat 40 people comfortably. There is a private bar area and the oak floor is perfect for dancing, music and evening festivities. There are lovely views from this room over the Italian Gardens and the room is licenced for weddings of up to 60 people. The stunning country kitchen features granite work tops and a six hob Range cooker, perfect for cooking for large groups. A central breakfast bar is a great for informal eating, or provides extra work space whilst cooking. A separate utility room houses a washing machine, tumble dryer and laundry facilities, helping to keep clutter away from the main kitchen.
Double doors lead into the wonderful free form indoor swimming pool with beautiful views of the sea and Rufus Castle, complete with French doors all along two sides providing direct access to the sunny terrace. This extraordinary room is flooded with natural light and can be converted into an Orangery by the use of a temporary floor covering the swimming pool, providing an indoor dining option for up to 90 people. Please note that the indoor pool is unavailable from May – September 2017 and from 2018 onwards between July and August, as the temporary floor is installed for events during this time.
Upstairs, the nine luxurious bedroom suites all feature en-suite bathrooms, and many have elegant hand picked antique furniture. The stunning master bedroom suite is a truly romantic room, set in the round turret with stunning views over the coastline. There is a sumptuous oversized bed and a stunning handmade crystal pendant, together with a handmade freestanding double ended bath in the bedroom, and an en-suite shower room. The remaining six bedrooms on the first floor are all individually designed with luxurious bed linen on either king or super king beds, and en-suite shower or bathrooms to maintain guest privacy. One of the bedrooms on the first floor is a family room with one king size bed and two single beds. A mezzanine level has two further bedrooms, both with twin beds (all four beds are three quarter doubles) and adjacent en-suite bath/shower rooms.
The grounds of Pennsylvania Castle are truly exceptional, with extensive landscaped gardens and numerous terraces ideal for outdoor entertaining. The beautiful English garden features mature hedges and trees, box hedges, dry stone walls clad with roses and sweeping lawns with beautiful views over the bay. There is a wedding pagoda on one of the lawns with amazing views, creating a wonderful setting for a summer wedding. Beyond the English garden lies a magnificent Italian garden, also accessible from the swimming pool terrace, with a lovely ornamental fountain, lily ponds, terraces and rose beds. From the upper level a pathway leads to the tropical garden, with exotic plants and palms and a wonderful waterfall creating a wonderfully tranquil place. From here you can access the serene Japanese garden, complete with Japanese tea house and a children’s play house.
The path continues beyond the gardens and winds down giving direct access to sea, passing the romantic ancient ruins of the 12th century St Andrews Church before arriving at the idyllic Church Ope Cove, a picturesque sheltered beach. The ruins of Rufus Castle, the oldest castle in Portland, are easily visible at the cliff edge of Church Ope Cove.
The sweeping driveway provides ample parking, with another large parking area to the north of the house able to park twenty cars, and the large lawn area beyond the gardens offers a helipad should you wish to arrive in style, however this must be arranged in advance.