Essential Wessex: Berry Pomeroy Castle

With its beautiful woodland setting and Hammer Horror design, Berry Pomeroy Castle in South Devon is a popular destination for lovers of the gothic. But it has much to offer anyone interested in history and heritage. Originally thought to be of Norman origin, due to a mention of a manor on the same site in the Domesday Book, it was actually built during the Wars of the Roses by the Yorkist Pomeroy family and later extended by the Seymour family.

Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset, bought it from the then-impoverished Pomeroys in 1547, adding a mansion to the original fortress,It was further extended early in the 17th century, but fell into disrepair in the 18th, It became known as a romantic ruin, a magnet for landscape painters and authors of gothic novels such as The Castle of Berry Pomeroy by Edward Montague, an 1806 tale presumably modelled on Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto (1764). Its popularity was boosted by a reputation for being the most haunted castle in England.

Today, Berry Pomeroy Castle is maintained by English Heritage. It is open at weekends from 10am to 4pm, and admission costs £7 for adults and £4.20 for children. Visitors can explore the kitchens, and climbing the staircase to the first floor of the medieval gatehouse reveals a large 15th century painting of the Adoration of the Magi on one of the walls.

The postcode, for satnav purposes, is TQ9 6LJ. Sadly, the only bus route to serve the castle. the 149 from Totnes to Torquay, does not run at weekends.