Part of one of the south's best-known landmarks was reduced to rubble recently after a sea-facing wall collapsed.

As reported in the Daily Echo, no one was hurt as a section of the 16th-century Hurst Castle crumbled to pieces.

The Tudor castle on Hurst Spit, Lymington has a rich history and was in military use until as late as 1956.

Hurst Castle was built by Henry VIII between 1541 and 1544 and helped to defend against a potential invasion from France and the Holy Roman Empire.

Relations between the three countries were in tatters after Henry had his marriage to Catherine of Aragon annulled in 1533. Catherine's nephew Charles V, the Roman Emperor, took the annulment as a personal insult and formed an allegiance with France against Henry.

Bournemouth Echo: Hurst Castle in the 18th century

With invasion a clear and present threat, Henry gave the order for the construction of forts along the English coastline, including Hurst Castle.

It formed part of a series of artillery forts built to protect important ports and landing sites across southern England.

Along with others at East and West Cowes and Calshot, the castle was one of four fortifications that William Fitzwilliam, the Lord Admiral, and William Paulet recommended building to help strengthen the defences along the Solent.

The work was completed by January 1544 at a cost of more than £3,200 – around £2.5million in today's money.

Bournemouth Echo: A painting of Hurst Castle in 1733

But the costs didn't end there. The castle was expensive to run due to its immense size.

The early structure was a stone artillery fort with a central keep and three bastions, and a moat, capable of holding up to 71 guns.

However, it was only equipped with 26 guns in 1547 and by 1558 the threat of invasion from France was over.

During the early 17th century the castle had been largely neglected and in 1628 the defences had become too inadequate to prevent Flemish ships from passing along the Solent. Less than half a dozen of the 27 guns were functional and there was no ammunition or powder for them.

Bournemouth Echo: A picture of Hurst Castle showing its position on the spit

In December 1648, during the English Civil War, the castle was used briefly to detain King Charles I before his trial and execution

Hurst had begun to deteriorate once again but repairs were carried out and by 1675 almost thirty guns were stationed there.

The castle continued to be utilised as a military base throughout the 18th century, although problems with smugglers operating in the vicinity had become rampant.

A heavy yacht was hired in 1729 to assist in anti-smuggling operations out of Southampton and its crew were armed with weaponry of the day including muskets, pistols and swords.

Bournemouth Echo: An aerial view of Hurst Castle

This action failed to thwart the efforts of the smugglers and later that century the site was used as a meeting point by a smuggling gang led by the notorious criminal John Streeter of Christchurch.

Hurst went on to once again play a key role in protecting the Solent.

War with France became a threat once again in 1803 and the castle underwent several large modernisation programmes throughout the 19th century.

Although the castle's guns weren't put to use during the Napoleonic Wars, the building was utilised in 1809 as a hospital for wounded military personnel returning from the Peninsula Campaign in Spain.

Bournemouth Echo: The crumbled wall at Hurst Castle

The fort was never equipped with its maximum capacity of guns, but by 1861 it housed 33 artillery pieces.

Hurst played a vital part in both World Wars to help fight off German invaders and was equipped with anti-aircraft guns.

But the recent crumbling of the seawall may not come as a big surprise. Erosion of the site has been a growing concern since the 1940s, a problem often attributed to the construction of groyne barriers in Bournemouth and Christchurch which inhibits the natural renewing of the spit by obstructing pebbles washed from local cliffs.