MORE than a thousand people attended Highcliffe Castle on Tuesday evening for the first ever Castle by Candlelight event.

The grounds were filled with lanterns, which guided visitors on an illuminated walk through the newly opened Rothesay Park.

The castle choir performed a number of favourites in the spectacular setting of the Wintergarden room.

Stephen Noble, events team leader, said “This year has seen us refresh our events programme leading to record breaking attendances.

"It’s wonderful to be able to introduce new audiences to the castle through our diverse programme.

"Castle by Candlelight was a fitting tribute to the castle as it is now closed until mid-March due to extensive works funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.”

The event was the last to take place before the castle itself closed to the public for five months of extensive restoration works.

The grounds, the beach and The Castle Kitchen will remain open throughout the winter.

The work is part of the seventh phase of an 18-month building project underway at the castle.

This will see the Penleaze wing fully restored and include the castle's historic kitchen and new activity and exhibition spaces created.

A new conservation studio will also be created allowing an internationally important collection of stained glass to be restored and displayed.

Winter charges were introduced at the castle car park for the first time last month.

Visitors will now have to pay 50 pence for four hours parking,