...from an impressive hilltop fortified castle to an elegant family home.
One of Somerset’s delights offering an insight into a thousand years of history. Home to the de Mohun and Luttrell families for more than 900 years and now a National Trust owned grade I listed building.
The Domesday book records a castle on the Tor at Dunster belonging to the Saxon Aelfric before 1066. Following the Battle of Hastings, William the Conqueror granted the castle to the Norman warlord William de Mohun, whose descendants owned the castle for the next three hundred years until 1376 when Lady Joan de Mohun sold it to Lady Elizabeth Luttrell.
The Luttrell family owned the castle and much of Dunster itself right through until the 20th Century. During this period the castle underwent a lot of changes with a country house being built in the grounds, the fortifications being removed and a full refurbishment in the 17th Century and then later in the 19th Century it was remodelled to emphasize its medieval origins.
Inside the Castle
Following the changes over the years and showing off its elegance as a family country house the Castle today is full of ornate plasterwork ceilings, period furniture and paintings, and magnificent fireplaces:
...the glorious dining room where recently the King of Norway and the Earl of Wessex have dined have many of these beautiful features.
...come and see the huge bath in the East Quantoxhead bathroom which takes around 100 gallons to fill.
...the castle is reputed to be the haunt of many ghosts but the King Charles bedroom with its secret passageway is a room not to be missed. It was named after King Charles II slept there whilst raising troops for the Royalist cause in the West Country.
...imagine the games and laughter in the ornate billiard room - once a kitchen - still with its huge fireplace arch left intact.
Around the Garden
The garden offers a wealth of attractions from a riverside garden, a Mediterranean style terrace, and over a 1000 trees which can be enjoyed along many of the walks.
There is an octagonal summerhouse at the top of the garden but well worth the walk as it affords the most fantastic views.
Oranges, lemons and grapefruits are grown on the warm sunny south terrace along which the guests used to arrive in a horse and carriage. You will also find a circular pond with a swan fountain to provide that dreamy sound of trickling water.
Strawberries are also grown but on trees here! Follow the Arbutus walk and you will see them on the steep southern slopes but the fruits here are rather more bitter than the ground growing variety. In fact the Castle is home to the national collection of strawberry trees.
Take a stroll along the Mill walk which follows the River Avill and look for the secluded Lovers Bridge. A small bridge designed for only two people which is evident from the small snug lovers seat.
The Bats of Tenants Hall
The medieval spiral staircase of Tenants Hall plays host to the summer roosting of the Lesser horseshoe bat. The Dunster Castle bat cam films these lovely creatures and visitors can view them on a screen in the main area of the Hall. Guided walks are arranged during summer evenings to see the bats as they fly around the gardens.
Due to the age of the property and the position on a steep slope there may be limited access to certain areas. Please call in advance of your visit for further details.
Car parking is available and there is a toilet by the shop and ticket office but none in the castle itself.
Dogs are welcome in the parkland and gardens and there are many family trails to explore during your visit.
The garden and park are open throughout the year between 10 am and 5 pm in the summer and 11am – 4pm in the winter months.
The castle is open between March and the end of October between 11am and 5pm with last admission 1 hour before closing.
The shop is open throughout the year – except Christmas and Boxing days – as per the garden and park but only at weekends during January.
Admission to the garden only is available from £4.70 per adult, £2.10 per child and £11.60 per family (£6.90 if only 1 adult in the family party).
For the Castle prices are from £8.50 per adult, £4.10 per child and £20.40 per family (£12.70 if only 1 adult in the family party).
Why not enjoy a trip on the West Somerset Railway – especially the Dunster Castle Express - as well and get discounted entry!
For further information please contact
01634 823004 (Infoline)
Last Updated: 28 Apr 2015