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The Environment

Clifftops is a unique development of five luxury lodges, hewn out of the Portland stone cliffs
that sit on the edge of Pennsylvania Castle Estate. Designed by Morrow + Lorraine
Architects, the building forms an integral part of the historic Estate landscape. The project
focuses on respecting the natural environment of the Jurassic Coast, the sympathetic yet
modern design showcasing the next step for the development of The Estate.

Church Ope Cove

The Cove and its beach nestles below Clifftops and is accessed via a footpath and steps that run passed Rufus Castle and between the small beach huts. You can hear the waves pounding onto the beach at night from your lodge.

This is an area of Special Scientific Interest with rare flowers and butterflies. You can often see peregrine falcons flying over the lodges.

It’s a small Cove with a big history. Just by looking at the walls of the lodges you will find the sea creatures that lived here 185 million years ago. More recently it has been the site of the first Viking invasion (789AD), has the 11th century Rufus Castle, the ruined Saxon Church of St Andrews with its “pirate graves”. If you prefer some culture it was the setting for Thomas Hardy’s, The Well Beloved, and sketched by JMW Turner.

The sea will keep guest entertained. A busy channel around the Island for boats and ships of all sizes. To the south of the lodges the tides crash together to form the infamous “Race” traditionally an area for all ships to avoid. On stormy days the swell rolls passed your windows and the clouds and rainbows sweep by.

Watching over Church Ope Cove is Pennsylvania Castle with its beautiful gardens and well managed woodland.


The Estate has a sustainability strategy that addresses Environment, Community, Heritage and Culture. In Clifftops we wanted to continue to draw on all these elements. The design needed to fit within the natural environment that shaped it, and the Estate sits within a community whose heritage and culture reflects a unique Island environment that attracts visitors from all around the world.

With the location of Clifftops so close to an area of Special Scientific Interest we decided one of our first tasks was to ensure we had an Estate wide strategy to manage the living environment. In partnership with Dorset County Council we logged the type and condition of all the trees so we could preserve, manage, and actively plant. We completed an analysis of wildlife that thrived in the trees.

We also worked with Dorset Gardens Trust to record and manage the landscape created by John Penn when he built the Castle.

The Portland Stone that dominates Clifftops is sourced from Albion Stone Mines only a short walk from the Estate. Albion Stone are accredited by the Ethical Stone Register.

The goal is for Clifftops to nestle in the cliffs and copper was chosen as the perfect material to compliment the Portland Stone. Pre patinated copper which is treated with chemical to become green was rejected because of the use of chemicals. Instead we decided to let the copper simply to weather over time. Local stonemasons have crafted the stone and the copper was cut and manipulated on site to fit the design contours.

We have installed solar panels for Clifftops which forms the first stage of a wider use of sustainable energy solution for the Estate.


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