The Important History of Pennsylvania Castle
Steeped in history, the Pennsylvania Castle is where heritage and luxury meet. This historic Gothic Revival mansion is perched on the Isle of Portland, offering an amazing view of the Jurassic coastline of Dorset, England. This massive castle, designed by James Wyatt, was built during 1797 and 1800.
John Penn, the son of William Penn and Juliana Fermor (one of the Queen Charlotte’s Ladies in Waiting) often travelled with the Royal entourage. During one such tour, King George III and Mr. Penn discovered the Isle of Portland. Being enchanted with the pristine beauty of Church Ope Cove, Penn decided to build his own mansion atop the natural platform provided by the cove. Initially, the place was encased by woodlands and a few elm trees, and Penn reportedly approached the King, who owned most of the land, in order to buy it. The King obviously agreed to sell, and Penn then approached James Wyatt who designed and helped construct the mammoth-sized mansion.
This historic castle has impressive gardens and breathtaking views overlooking the pristine sea. A perfectionist by nature, Penn spent quite a fortune to beautify the castle, build gardens and plant exotic shrubs, as well as buy nearby property. Since its construction, this massive cliff-top mansion has been witness to a number of Royal weddings and events, most notably the King and Queen’s visit to the castle for their wedding anniversary soon after its completion. And although it’s been the witness to many celebrations and festivities, it’s seen just as much war and death.
The War Fortress
The Pennsylvania Castle was built with strong walls and structures that were intended to withstand any determined attack; the high walls were designed to resist the advanced artillery fired by enemies. In fact, the Pennsylvania Castle played a very important role in the Napoleonic wars. During this time, the isle was heavily fortified, and it served as an outlook post and the army also had their barracks on the island. In addition to the Pennsylvania Castle, you’ll also find a number of old castles dating back centuries on this beautiful isle — the remains of an ancient Norman fortress and a strangely curious castle that was built by Lord Manor in the mid-18th century.
After the Second World War, the island became the home of naval research and development. It also provided a good site to build a convict prison, in addition to employment of inmates in the quarries.
It has been claimed that the D-Day invasion plans were hatched at this mighty Castle. Winston Churchill, General de Gaulle and General Eisenhower met within its grand walls on the cliff-top to discuss the strategies and tactics to win the war. After the victory of the allied forces in World War II, the involvement of Portland and the Pennsylvania Castle with the planning of the D-Day invasions were recognised with a grand ceremony on August 22, 1945. In fact, the American Ambassador – John D. Winant – also unveiled a commemorating stone in Victoria Gardens, and was entertained with tea by the Samson family who owned the castle at the time. The event was held to celebrate more than 418,585 troops and nearly 144,093 army vehicles who passed by the spot a year ago.
The Pennsylvania Castle has undergone many renovations and has seen many new structures built in the land, most of which were constructed during the time of John Penn. He accumulated land from the nearby areas, and even tried to build a private bath! Most of Penn’s life and money was spent in beautifying the large mansion; he not only rebuilt the seaward arch of the Erstwhile Rufus Castle, but he is also credited with erecting a bridge over the moat that leads towards Church Ope.
With its incredible beauty, Pennsylvania castle is a place worth visiting. You won’t find many lasting castles that have experienced as much joy and pain as this history-soaked masterpiece