The Castle holds a host of events including Civil War re-enactments and have-a-go at archery. For more information see: www.nationaltrust.org.uk.
Photos: top left - Seamus Rogers, all others Dave Wood
1,000 years of history
Dramatically sited on a wooded hill, a castle has existed here since Norman times, with an impressive medieval gatehouse and ruined tower giving a reminder of its turbulent past. The Castle as late as Medieval times had the sea at its base and today commands spectacular views across the Bristol Channel and Exmoor. It first became a Saxon hill fort a 1,000 years ago, was beseiged during the English Civil War and was partially pulled down on the orders of Cromwell in 1650, leaving a mansion and two gateways.
The castle that you see today was remodelled into a lavish country home by Antony Salvin between 1868 and 1872 for the Luttrell family, who lived here for 600 years. The Luttrells bought the home from the Norman de Mohuns, who had been granted the lands at Dunster by William the Conqueror for services at the Battle of Hastings. The Luttrells gave the Castle to the National Trust in 1976 and now live in East Quantoxhead.
The Victorian Underground Reservoir is now open to the public
As part of the 40th Anniversary of the National Trust managing Dunster Castle, an underground reservoir has been uncovered for the first time, giving visitors the rare chance to head below ground to see a piece of Victorian engineering first hand. Visitors can now venture around four and a half metres below the level of the Keep Garden lawn, which originally was the site of the upper ward of the Norman motte and bailey castle, and enjoy a new audio and light presentation.
The reservoir was established as part of a range of Victorian improvements made to Dunster Castle in the 1860s and 1870s by George Fownes Luttrell. At this time the Dunster Estate was at its most prosperous which enabled Luttrell to create an up-to date, modern dwelling within the castle, which had seen little improvement in the preceding century. The reservoir was constructed in 1870 and it originally helped supply water to the Minehead Waterworks Company and by 1897 it was helping the development of homes with running water in Minehead.
Photos: Dave Wood
The Castle, Watermill, Gardens and parkland are closed until further notice.
1st January - 3rd March
Watermill, Gardens & shop open every day
11am - 4pm
Daily tours of the House, enabling you to visit the House and see conservation cleaning in action (donation only)
4 March - 30 October
Open every day
10am - 5pm
The only entrance by car is from the A39. There are 2 pedestrian entrances: directly from the High Street or through the Watermill at the end of Park Street (see Dunster map page).
Why not arrive in style aboard a vintage steam train on the West Somerset Railway. Dunster Castle Express trains run April to November, every Wednesday and Saturday.
On your visit don't miss:
- the Castle with its spooky Crypt, kitchens and sumptuous upstairs rooms as the Luttrells would have left them
- lawn games on Green Court
- the Mediterranean inspired South Terrace Garden
- the restored, 18th century double overshot mill with two working waterwheels which produces stoneground wholemeal flour from organic wheat (and is for sale)
- the log play area in the River Gardens
- the 17th century stable
- the garden exhibition in the Keep Garden gazebo
- the Dream Garden, replanted in 2014, based on its original 1930's parterre design
Photos: courtesy of Dunster Museum. Left Geoffrey Luttrell and right polo on Dunster Lawns with visiting Muhurajah of India.