Because the castle was still lived in by tenants little more could be done at that time. Ten years later, however, the tenants moved out and a second stage of repair could begin, this time inside the building. The intention was to return Sir Guy de Bryan's grand apartment to something approaching its original arrangement, a task which was completed in 1992. A great deal of work was involved, most of it carried out, with only occasional help, by one man, Leonard Hardy, under the supervision of Caroe and Partners, the architects.
Before any repair could begin it was necessary to strip out the many later accretions in order to learn more about the building. Plaster was removed, walls and floors opened up, and most significantly, the floor in the King's Room taken away to reveal its earlier and true proportions. This exercise revealed much about the original construction of the castle, and its varied history, not least that the restoration of 1850 was much more extensive than we had supposed.
It was felt that, with respect to our medieval forebears, the vaulted ground floor was not the best place for a modern kitchen. These rooms were simply limewashed, their stone paving repaired and like the rooms at the south end left open for visitors to explore. Instead, the kitchen, with bathrooms and extra bedrooms, would go into the pleasant 18th-century wing. Here floors were taken out at the northern end to allow space for a new staircase, and the windows, with the panelled linings of the window reveals, were repaired and renewed.
In the King's Room the removal of modern and Victorian plaster revealed surviving areas of thin medieval plaster; this has been left in place, and the surrounding areas re-plastered in fine lime plaster to an equal thickness. At the same time as the removal of the floor, some 18th-century first floor windows were blocked up, and surviving remnants of earlier windows repaired. This enabled us to repair the heads of the medieval windows and to build, in new Purbeck stone, arches on the inner faces so as to reinstate their embrasures. All the windows have been reglazed with lead lights. The new oak ceiling follows the marks left in the walls by the medieval roof timbers.
In the chapel substantial remains of the very fine east window were found, blocked up in the 18th century by the present wooden casements. The reveals of the casements have been rebuilt neatly, and the infill wall consolidated before re-plastering in lime to reveal the line and remnants of the medieval window. There was a temptation to remove the inserted floor altogether, but this was resisted. It seemed equally important to leave some evidence of Woodsford's later history, and the way in which it had been altered over the years. A new staircase was built to give access to the upper floor, however. In the Queen's Room a new floor of Purbeck stone flags was laid over the top of the vault below. We have left a small time capsule under one of them.
The surroundings of the castle were greatly improved when the farm buildings in the adjoining field to the east were cleared away. Further landscape works were carried out and new trees planted so that the castle can once again stand against a wooded background, as old photographs show it to have done in the past. In 2008 a major re-thatching campaign was undertaken of what is the largest thatched roof in Dorset.