near Dunster, Somerset, England
Set on a wooded hilltop within the Exmoor National Park, Dunster Castle has sweeping views over the Bristol Channel and is situated on the outskirts of the town of Dunster
The castle is set in beautiful park and woodland surroundings on the side of a river.
The castle’s defensive walls were demolished long ago but visitors can see a medieval gatehouse, a ruined tower, an octagonal summerhouse at the highest point of the site and a Mediterranean garden terrace.
The main castellated building has both Jacobean and Victorian facades and is built over four floors of a light and red coloured stone. The interiors feature ornate plasterwork ceilings, fine furniture and paintings.
The park and garden are open to the public every day throughout the year (except Christmas) and the castle everyday except Thursday between mid March and the end of October between 11am and 5pm.
The castle offers guided tours of the attic and basement areas which are not normally available for visitors for an extra charge and by reservation only; there is also a National Trust gift shop on site.
Throughout the year on Fridays and Saturdays couples whishing to tie the knot can do so at a Civil ceremony in either the Tenants Hall which is located in the upper storey of the gatehouse or between November and February in the Inner and Outer halls.
The Tenants Hall with its Tudor windows is an ideal summer wedding venue seating up to 60 guests with romantic lighting from its impressive chandeliers. The Inner and Outer Halls can seat up to 80 guests with the bride making a grand entrance down the 17th century staircase.
In 1066 William The Conqueror granted the castle; which was already built on the site, to William de Mohun. The family remained at the castle until it was sold to Lady Elizabeth Luttrell in 1376 whose descendents remained there until 1976.
The property was in a poor state of repair when it was inherited by Sir George Luttrell in 1571 as the family had not lived there for many years, so in 1617 employed architect William Arnold to build a new house in the lower ward of the castle.
During the civil war the castle was surrendered to the parliamentarian forces who subsequently demolished the defensive walls leaving just parts of two towers and the gatehouse. During the following centuries and in particular between 1862 and 1872 the castle was restored, remodeled and added too with a landscaped park, follies, terraced garden and the addition of a fine oak staircase and plasterwork ceilings.
In 1976 Sir Walter Luttrell gave the castle and much of its contents over to the National Trust.
Other Castles in the Area
Bampton Castle, Devon