Farleigh Hungerford Castle
...hidden treasures and a sinister past
A 14th century fortified manor house which offers a great day out for families and still has much for the visitor to enjoy. Check out the history and sinister past and understand the goings on at the castle in years gone by.
Set in the lovely setting of the river Frome valley the manor house was built in around 1370 by the Montfort family. It was then sold to Sir Thomas Hungerford, the first speaker of the House of Commons, who converted it into a square castle with corner towers and a surrounding moat, although he had to gain a royal pardon for having completed the work without royal consent!
His son Sir Walter Hungerford, the 1st Baron Hungerford who won renown in the Hundred Years War, enlarged the castle by adding an outer court and enclosing the parish church to use as his personal chapel, for which it is thought he built the nearby church to replace it.
The castle remained in the Hungerford family for around 200 years through various wars and changes of royalty but by the end of the 17th century it was left in ruins. The Houlton family who had owned it stripped it of much of its panelling and carved beams for their house in Trowbridge and many of the stones were used to build Farleigh House.
Little remains of the castle except two corner towers, the gatehouse and the chapel dedicated to St Anne which contains several wall paintings, and for those who dare - the best collection of human shaped sinister portrait coffins of the Hungerford family in the crypt and a collection of lead death masks.
There is a fascinating audio tour which takes you through the troubled and gruesome history of the castle and the crimes of the Hungerford lords. The Priests House also contains many artefacts from past excavations which add to the understanding of what has gone on through the centuries.
The local Church of St Leonard has a perpendicular tower in three stages to the west corner with a pair of gargoyles on each face. There is a 17th century wooden altar rail carved with open work scrolls and figures. The pulpit dates from the early 18th century and is carved with angels and eagles.
The castle is owned by English Heritage and is a grade I listed building. Please check the English Heritage site for opening times and ticket prices.
Come and uncover and learn about all the intrigue. There’s lots on offer for families, couples, walkers and anyone with an interest in some fascinating history.
Other attractions in the area:
Stoney Littleton Long Barrow
Pictures © English Heritage
Last Updated: 28 Apr 2015