Set in the peaceful Wiltshire countryside beside a lake, the 14th century Old Wardour Castle near Tisbury was once one of the most daring and innovative homes in Britain. 

Built as a lightly-fortified luxury residence for comfortable living and lavish entertainment, the castle ruin now managed by English Heritage today provides a relaxed, romantic day out for couples, families, and budding historians alike.

Attracting more than 25,000 visitors a year, the castle was held by the Arundell family from 1544 until it was rendered unhabitable following bombardment in 1643 and 1644 during the English Civil War.

In the 1760s and 1770s, the 8th Lord Arundell built a country house, New Wardour Castle, nearby, and turned Old Wardour Castle into a picturesque park of ruins, lake and woodland.

Wiltshire Times: Old Wardour Castle surrounded by treesOld Wardour Castle surrounded by trees (Image: English Heritage)

Now English Heritage says it is “delighted” to announce that the Grade I listed building’s new visitor admissions centre has won an architectural award at the Salisbury Civic Society Awards.

Unveiled at a ceremony on January 25, the awards recognise excellence in the quality of new buildings and the conservation of existing historic buildings in the wider Salisbury area.

The design was also a regional finalist in the prestigious Civic Trust Awards, the longest-running built environment awards scheme in Europe.

Matt Bulford, head of historic properties at English Heritage, said: “We’re thrilled that the Old Wardour Castle admissions building has received such recognition.

“Everyone involved, including from the architects to Ken Biggs Contractors and our structural engineer Scott Boote, worked tirelessly to ensure that it was designed and built to a high standard and in keeping with our aims as a charity. We look forward to giving a warm welcome to visitors there upon their arrival at the castle.”

Commissioned by English Heritage, the design for the admissions building by Connolly Wellingham Architects is purposefully sustainable and sensitive to the historic backdrop of the castle ruins, which are a Scheduled Ancient Monument and sit within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Opened in August 2022 and replacing an old, deteriorating structure on the site, it has dramatically enhanced the visitor experience on arrival at the castle.

The beautiful, timber-clad building has an olive green exterior and grass roof, enabling it to blend effortlessly into its natural surroundings.

Inside, the space houses an admissions till, integrated retail displays, office, and accessible toilet. The canopy on one side of the structure playfully references the castle ruins itself, which opens out from a well-preserved façade into a picturesque ruin at the rear.

In keeping with English Heritage’s commitment to reach net zero by 2040, sustainability was a vital consideration in the building’s design.

The team at Connolly Wellingham Architects included an air source heat pump, underfloor heating, wood fibre insulation and green roof to help reduce energy use and embodied carbon while improving biodiversity. 

Joe Hyett, project lead at Connolly Wellingham Architects, added: "The project grew from early feasibility exercises to assess the practicalities of construction on such a remote and sensitive site.

“The final proposal represents a synthesis of historical reverence and contemporary design and was executed carefully and considerately by all of those involved - as recognised by this award.

“The finished building stands as a testament to English Heritage's commitment to improving access to heritage and to low-impact, sustainable development."

For more information on Old Wardour Castle, please visit