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Be King of the Castle

There can be few things as good as a semi-ruined castle for firing up the imagination. Just walk through the stone arches or stare out of slender windows down onto the slopes below to be transported back to an age of archery or to a fairy tale world.


The first castles in Somerset – apart from the even earlier forts – were built by the Normans to defend what they had captured. Of these, the one that has survived the most intact, although heavily reworked, is Dunster. With fantastic views from its wooded hill top, the castle, looked after by the National Trust, offers rare glimpses of its own history in its ancient walls.


Many of the other castles were abandoned, fell into disrepair or were deliberately damaged during the Civil War. Towns such as Taunton and Bridgwater lost theirs this way while those in the countryside were left to be reclaimed by the land or pillaged by the locals for their own homes.


In Wells, the 13th century Bishop’s Palace has all the elements of a castle with its moat, crenellations, ramparts and drawbridge. Today it includes 14 acres of fabulous gardens and well pools.


English Heritage takes care of Nunney Castle which despite being a ruin has a certain splendour as it towers above a moat and Farleigh Hungerford Castle, a home to the best collection of human-shaped lead coffins in Britain.


Charming Stogursey Castle can be stayed in by guests of Landmark Trust whereas others can barely be distinguished from the hills they once surmounted yet still hold a fascination for those who make it to the top.

Number of items:

Number of items: 11

  1. National Trust -The shop at Dunster Castle

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    National Trust -The shop at Dunster Castle

    Type

    Shop/Shopping Centre

    Dunster, Nr Minehead

    Explore the atmospheric 17th-century stables and visit the shop for high quality, original gifts and local products. Our shop is brimming with beautiful things, so you are sure to find something to...

  2. National Trust - Dunster Castle

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    National Trust - Dunster Castle

    Type

    Castle/Fort

    Dunster, Nr Minehead


    Dramatically sited on a wooded hill and the fortified home of the Luttrells for 600 years. Remodelled in the 1870s to create a splendid Victorian country house. A fine 17th- century carved...

  3. National Trust -Watermill Tea-room at Dunster Castle

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    National Trust -Watermill Tea-room at Dunster Castle

    Type

    Tea/Coffee Shop

    Dunster, Nr Minehead

    The newly refurbished Watermill Tea-room is opposite the working watermill in peaceful surroundings alongside the River Avill. Offering seasonal treats from hearty lunches to delicious cakes it's a...

  4. National Trust -The Garden at Dunster Castle

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    National Trust -The Garden at Dunster Castle

    Type

    Garden

    Dunster, Nr Minehead

    The result of 100s of years of planning, building and restoration a walk around the gardens at Dunster Castle takes you around the world and though four different microclimates.

    The South...

  5. Glastonbury Abbey

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    Glastonbury Abbey

    Type

    Abbey/Priory

    Glastonbury

    Glastonbury Abbey is connected with legend to a degree that is unparalleled by any other abbey in England. Since Medieval times it has held legendary status as the earliest Christian foundation in...

  6. Nunney Castle

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    Nunney Castle

    Type

    Castle/Fort

    Nunney, Nr Frome

    The striking and picturesque moated castle of Nunney was built in the 1370's by Sir John de la...

  7. Muchelney Abbey - Aerial view of grounds and abbot's house (left)

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    Muchelney Abbey

    Type

    Abbey/Priory

    Langport

    Muchelney Abbey, which lies two miles south of...

  8. National Trust - Stoke-sub-Hamdon Priory

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    National Trust - Stoke-sub-Hamdon Priory

    Type

    Abbey/Priory

    Stoke-sub-Hamdon

    14th/15th-century farm buildings, formerly a...

  9. Cleeve Abbey

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    Cleeve Abbey

    Type

    Abbey/Priory

    Washford, Watchet

    In Washford lies one of the undiscovered jewels...

  10. Farleigh hungerford castle

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    Farleigh Hungerford Castle

    Type

    Castle/Fort

    Nr Bath

    In a beautiful valley of the river Frome, on the...

  11. Downside Abbey

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    Downside Abbey

    Type

    Abbey/Priory

    Radstock

    Downside Abbey is a Roman Catholic monastery, and...

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