A CELEBRATORY mood was in the air as families enjoyed a historic site that has been closed to the public for 80 years.

More than 1,000 people are thought to have come through the gates at Sandsfoot Castle for the Tudor Fayre on Sunday.

The Grade II-listed monument, which dates back to 1539 and was built as a sea defence by Henry VIII has been given a 21st century facelift.

It has undergone a renovation to make it more accessible thanks to a Heritage Lottery Fund grant and support from <&bh"http://www.dorsetforyou.com/weymouthandportland">Weymouth and Portland Borough Council<&eh>, Friends of <&bh"http://www.dorsetecho.co.uk/search/?search=Rodwell">Rodwell<&eh> Trail and Sandsfoot Castle.

Fencing has been removed, an internal viewing walkway installed and new lighting and interpretation panels added.

Nine-year-old Thomas Myers, a pupil at Beechcroft St Paul’s Primary School, won a painting competition to re-open the castle.

He said: “I had to hand the key to the deputy mayor Ray Banham and I said that as the next generation I will protect Sandsfoot Castle.

“I was really happy to open the castle as I always go down there on my bike with my dad.”

The Fayre was part of the Spirit of the Sea, Weymouth and Portland’s Maritime Festival which celebrates the borough’s maritime heritage.

Morris and Tudor dancing, skittles and tours of the castle all took place in the celebration of Tudor life.

David Carter, from the Friends of Rodwell Trail and Sandsfoot Castle, said: “It was a lovely day – everything we wanted and more.

“As far as the Friends are concerned it was a great success and our contribution to the Spirit of the Sea.

“We were very fortunate with the weather. I would say over 1,000 people came through the gates.

“It’s a nice place for the whole family, from young children to grandparents. It’s a lovely place to sit on the grass or have a picnic in nice weather and enjoy the simple pleasures of life.”