Castles in the South West

Corfe Castle

CorfeThere has been a castle on the site since 900AD but the oldest surviving parts of the current structure date back to the 11th century, when a stone hall and inner bailey wall were built by William the Conqueror just after 1066. Prior to the 13th century, other halls, towers and walls were added and the castle was used as a home to King John, as well as a prison and a royal treasure store.

The castle was sold in 1635 to Sir John Bankes, Attorney General to Charles I. While he was away attending to the King, the castle came under siege twice by parliamentary forces. So his wife, Lady Mary Bankes, was left responsible for defending the castle.

The first siege in 1643 lasted six weeks and the second, two years later, lasted over two months. It was during this last siege that the castle was betrayed by one of the garrison, captured and destroyed by explosives.

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Nearest Club Site: Corfe Castle

Dunster Castle

DunsterDunster Castle is situated on a wooded hilltop within the Exmoor National Park, with sweeping views over the Bristol Channel. In 1066 William, the Conqueror granted the castle to William de Mohun.

The property was in a poor state of repair when it was later inherited by Sir George Luttrell in 1571, as the family had not lived there for many years. In 1617, they employed architect William Arnold to build a new house in the lower ward of the castle. During the Civil War, the young Prince Charles, later King Charles II, stayed at the castle in May 1645.

The castle was surrendered to the Parliamentarian forces, who subsequently demolished the medieval defensive walls, leaving just parts of two towers and the gatehouse. During the following centuries, and in particular between 1868 and 1872, the castle was restored, remodelled and added to with a landscaped park, follies, a terraced garden and the fine oak staircase and plasterwork ceilings.

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Nearest Club Site: Minehead

Highclere Castle

Probably better known as being the fictional home of the popular period drama Downton Abbey, Highclere is a country house in the Jacobean style. The park designed by Capability Brown, and the estate is the country seat of the Earl of Carnarvon. Built on the foundations of the medieval palace of the Bishops of Winchester, it was remodelled and largely rebuilt for the third Earl, by Sir Charles Barry in 1839–1842, after he had finished building the Houses of Parliament.

The castle became home to Egyptian artefacts after the 5th Earl, an enthusiastic Egyptologist, sponsored the excavation of nobles' tombs in Thebes in 1907. In 1922 he would also accompany archaeologist Howard Carter during the discovery of Tutankhamen’s tomb. It has been used as the location for many TV and films, and since 2010, is the main setting for Downton Abbey.

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Nearest Club Site: Devizes

Tintagel Castle

TintagelLocated on the coast overlooking the Atlantic, much of Tintagel Castle has now fallen away into the sea. Traditionally linked with the legend of King Arthur, Tintagel Castle was alleged by Geoffrey of Monmouth to be the place where King Arthur was born. The current remains date back to the 13th century castle built by Richard, Earl of Cornwall.

The castle was built in a more old-fashioned style for the time to make it appear more ancient and suitable for a Cornish King and perhaps to connect to the legend of King Arthur. Following his death, the castle was of no interest to his successors and so it continued to fall into disrepair and finally into ruins. The castle site became a tourist attraction in the Victorian period due the interest in Arthurian legend.

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Nearest Club Site: Bude