Weymouth-Dorset.co.uk Local History

East and West Lulworth and Lulworth Cove


West Lulworth

Lulworth Cove, Dorset

Lulworth Cove

West Lulworth is most well known for the splendour of its geology. Lulworth Cove, a picturesque, sheltered bay enclosed almost in a circle is its main highlight. This made it an ideal location for smuggling, which was rife along these shores during the latter part of the 18th century and well into the 19th. Despite the building of Coastguard cottages to house the customs officers, nothing stood in the way of the intrepid smugglers.

Just over the small hill (at the bottom of the picture above) from the cove is Stair Hole, a natural rock formation.

A little further along from Stair Hole is the renowned Durdle Door, a limestone archway naturally carved in the rock jutting out into the sea. Durdle Door is seen all over the country on television as part of a trailer of the BBC. A steep climb up the hill above Durdle Door gives the most spectacular views of the coastline.

Stair Hole, Lulworth, Dorset

Stair Hole

The small village of West Lulworth is one of thatched cottages dating back 300 years surrounding the parish church. The original church was demolished in 1869 due to it being dilapidated. The present church, built of local stone taken from the Cove replaced it. There was once a mill, powered by water from a nearby spring. It was burnt down during the 19th century and all that remains of its existence is the Millpond.


East Lulworth

Lulworth Castle at East Lulworth, Dorset

Lulworth Castle

The stronghold of the Weld family and where the family has had their family seat at Lulworth Castle since 1641. The Welds were a staunch Catholic family of Dorset and their estate was huge. Joseph Weld built the original castle. A serious fire ravaged the castle in 1929 and it was left semi-derelict until the 1990s when it was restored to its former glory and opened to the public. To the rear of the castle is the family chapel and church for the inhabitants of East Lulworth who were Catholics. The generations of Welds have entertained Royalty throughout their time here, including George III who often visited the area.

A short walk across the lawns from the castle and through a small gate lead to the churchyard of the St. Andrew's Church of England.

The church was originally at the centre of the village. The village was built up around it until the 18th century when the park grounds of the castle were laid out. The houses were all demolished and rebuilt outside the walls of the park. Only the church remained where it has stood for some 500 years. Built of Purbeck stone, the earliest part of the church is the west tower, impressive by its size for an ordinary parish church. Much of the church dates from the 1860s when the nave and the chancel were rebuilt. The famous Dorset writer, Thomas Hardy, who was then working under John Hicks of Dorchester, an architect, drew up the plans for the rebuilding.

St.Andrew's Parish Church, East Lulworth, Dorset

St. Andrews, Church of England, East Lulworth

The Weld Arms, East Lulworth, Dorset

The Weld Arms

Like West Lulworth, the small village consists of old thatched cottages and its village pub, the Weld Arms.

The Weld Arms was run by Richard Champ around 1770 who was a smuggler operating with the well-known gang of smugglers from Osmington Mills. Lulworth was the scene of many a smuggling tale and the despair of the Lulworth Customs Officers.

Just along from the entrance to Lulworth Castle the road forks. Taking the left fork and then turning almost immediately right onto the army land through the gate, the road leads up to Whiteway Hill through the army ranges. There are some magnificent views on a clear day from the picnic area at the top of the hill. Following the road further on and a sharp turn to the right leads to the deserted village of Tyneham nestling in the valley below.

Historical Parish Information


Parish Registers begin:

East Lulworth: 1561 East Lulworth Roman Catholic: 1755

West Lulworth: 1745 (BTs 1731)

Hundred or Liberty:

East Lulworth: Winfrith; West Lulworth: Bindon

Poor Law Union & Registration District:

Wareham & Purbeck

Online Parish Clerk Project (external link)

West Lulworth OPC and East Lulworth OPC

Nearby Parishes and Places

Chaldon Herring (West & East Chaldon)

Osmington, Osmington Mills & Ringstead



Tyneham & Worbarrow Bay


Family History




Local Attractions and Places to Visit


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