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Castles in Devon

Berry Pomeroy Castle in Devon

Are you a fan of castles? It’s not just Wales where you’ll find some great castles. Here in Devon we’ve got lots of castles and ten of them are within an hour’s drive of The 25 Boutique B&B in Torquay so you could stay for a week and visit at least one each day!

Of these castles in Devon, five of them are English Heritage and two are National Trust. Check out their websites for all the information you’ll need like opening times, prices and membership.

Here’s a brief description of the castles in Devon and the distance in miles and minutes away from The 25 Boutique B&B, starting with the closest:

Compton Castle (NT) 12 mins 5 miles A medieval fortified castle with many original features. As well as its fortifications it still boasts the old kitchen largely unchanged since the 14th century as well as a solar (living room), subsolar ,chapel, guard rooms, portcullis and Great Hall which was roofless before it was reconstructed in the 1950’s. The pretty gardens feature a rose and knot garden.

It is still home to the Gilbert family who have lived there for all but one and a half of its many centuries. In 1951 the family decided to give their historic home to the National Trust. The perfect size for a morning or afternoon’s exploration.

Berry Pomeroy Castle (EH) 18 mins 6.5 miles Within the 15th-century defences of the Pomeroy family castle, looms the dramatic ruined shell of its successor, the great Elizabethan mansion of the Seymours. Begun in around 1560 and ambitiously enlarged from around 1600, their mansion was intended to become the most spectacular house in Devon, a match for Longleat. Never completed, and abandoned by 1700, it became the focus of blood-curdling ghost stories, recounted in the audio tour.

The location of the castle makes it ideal for walkers who can explore the nearby beautiful woodland or you can enjoy a light lunch, home made cake or restorative cup of tea in the cafe.

Totnes Castle (EH) 29 mins 9 miles A classic Norman motte and bailey castle, founded soon after the Conquest to overawe the Saxon town. A later stone shell-keep crowns its steep mound, giving sweeping views across the town rooftops to the River Dart. Worth the climb for the views.

Powderham Castle 35 mins 20 miles The family home of the 18th Earl & Countess of Devon. It was originally built in 1391 and despite undergoing many transformations since surviving the ravages of the civil war in the 17th century, it has remained in the same family. Entertaining guided tours bring the fascinating history to life. Discover secret doors, stunning architecture and even a haunted landing. Attractive gardens and grounds too.

Castle Drogo (NT) 48 mins 34 miles The last castle to be built in England undergoing a monumental restoration project. Constructed between 1911 and 1930, for Julius Drewe, the hugely successful founder of the Home and Colonial Stores. Drewe chose the site in the belief that it formed part of the lands of his supposed medieval ancestor, Drogo de Teigne. The castle was given to the National Trust in 1974, the first building constructed in the twentieth century that the Trust acquired. Currently undergoing interesting conservation (since 2013), to correct the fact that it has leaked in rain ever since it was built! Also attractive gardens.

Tiverton Castle 48 mins 44 miles Few buildings evoke such a feeling of history as venerable Tiverton Castle.

Originally built in 1106 by order of Henry I, and later rebuilt and much enlarged in the 13th and 14th centuries, Tiverton Castle was once home of the powerful medieval Earls of Devon and of a Plantagenet Princess. With later additions and alterations down the centuries all periods of architecture from medieval to modern can be seen, with beautiful walled gardens within the romantic ruins.

Besieged during the English Civil War by General Sir Thomas Fairfax, it fell due to a lucky shot hitting a drawbridge chain. This was the only time in its long history that it saw battle.

Part Scheduled Ancient Monument and part Grade I Listed, the Castle is the private home of Angus and Alison Gordon, who are happy to share it with others.

Bickleigh Castle 52 mins 33 miles

Bickleigh Castle has a history dating back to 600 AD. Tours must be booked in advance and are generally at 10am during the week. The castle is fortified, surrounded by water. Once much larger, the main building was destroyed during the Civil War, however other buildings, mostly arranged around a central courtyard survived. The castle serves principally as a bespoke wedding venue. The River Exe runs through its grounds.

Dartmouth Castle (EH) 57 mins 12 miles One of the most beautifully located fortresses in England. For over 600 years Dartmouth Castle has guarded the narrow entrance to the Dart Estuary and the busy, vibrant port of Dartmouth. This fascinating complex of defences was begun in 1388 and a century later the townsmen added the imposing and well-preserved 'gun tower', probably the very first fortification in Britain purpose-built to mount 'ship-sinking' heavy cannon. Climb to the top for breathtaking views across the estuary and see how it could be blocked in wartime by a heavy chain.

Unusually incorporating the fine church of St Petrox, the castle saw action during the Civil War, and continued in service right up until the Second World War. Successive up-dating included the Victorian 'Old Battery' with its remounted heavy guns, guard rooms and maze of passages to explore.

Okehampton Castle (EH) 54 mins 42 miles The remains of the largest castle in Devon, in a stunning setting on a wooded spur above the rushing River Okement. Begun soon after the Norman Conquest as a motte and bailey castle with a stone keep, it was converted into a sumptuous residence in the 14th century by the Earl of Devon, much of whose work survives. After the last Courtenay owner fell foul of Henry VIII in 1538, it declined to a ruin.

Lydford Castle (EH) 59 mins 50 miles The village of Lydford has an unforgettable setting on the western edge of Dartmoor National Park, just upriver from the spectacular Lydford Gorge. Its importance in Saxon and medieval times has left its legacy in the street layout and in two castles: a post-Conquest castle, of which the earthworks remain, and a 13th-century tower, built on top of a 12th-century predecessor. This latter castle served as a prison for enforcing the laws that regulated both Dartmoor’s forest and also its important tin industry.

So don't forget to bring your membership card with you if you are a member of either the English Heritage or the National Trust as this will get you into several castles. Of course you can just pay for entry at each one individually too.

It may pay you to join the English Heritage specially, with your holiday in Devon in mind to save yourselves money overall on the separate entry fees.

Please check the individual property details on their own websites for prices, opening days and times. These can vary and not every property is open all year or every day of the week.

Whatever you choose to do to fill your time whilst staying in Devon, we are sure you'll have a great time. We look forward to seeing you soon!

PS Are you a member of the National Trust or English Heritage? You may also enjoy reading Andy's blogs on National Trust properties in Devon and English Heritage properties in Devon.


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