The Best Castles & Stately Homes in Devon

Devon is a beautiful county in South West England with cliffs, sandy shores, and charming seaside villages. The county has splendid nature with the Dartmoor and Exmoor National Parks as well as parts of the Jurassic coast and a rugged coastline that is often described as the English Riviera. No wonder Devon is a popular tourist destination.

Devon is also packed with historic castles and houses that all have a rich history. These Devon castles range from the time of the Norman invasion to the last castle to be built in England. This article shows the best castles, stately homes, and historic country houses that you can visit in this beautiful English county.

Castles in Devon

photo: Wikimedia / CC BY 2.0

Powderham Castle

Powderham Castle is a fortified manor house whose history goes back to the 14th century when it was built by Sir Philip Courtenay. The house has never been a true castle, it was built as a fortified manor house and the name castle was added in the 17th century. However, the manor did have a curtain wall.

The castle was expanded and renovated in the 18th and 19th centuries. The interiors now feature elements from medieval times to the 19th century. One of the finest features in the house is the Marble Hall.  

The castle lies in a deer park on the banks of the River Exe. The grounds feature The American Garden, The Belvedere Tower, The Rose Garden, and the Secret Garden.   

Where: Powderham

Built: 14th century with later remodels

Visitor information: the castle is open to visitors. Visit the website for more information.

photo: kitmasterbloke / CC BY 2.0

Totnes Castle

Located on the River Dart in Devon, Totnes Castle is one of the best-preserved motte and bailey castles in England. The castle was built in 1066 by Breton Juhel of Totnes, who was one of the lieutenants of William the Conqueror. Later, the castle was rebuilt in stone. The stone keep and curtain wall that you see today date from the 14th century.

Visitor information: the castle is open to visitors. Daily during the Spring & Summer months and in the weekends in the Winter months. Visit the website for more information,

The east range, Okehampton Castle by Humphrey Bolton

Okehampton Castle

Okehampton Castle is a medieval motte and bailey castle in county Devon. The castle was built shortly after the Norman Conquest. In the 14th century, the castle was transformed into a residence by Hugh Courtenay, Earl of Devon. The Courtenay family was heavily involved in the Wars of the Roses. After Henry Courtenay was executed by King Henry VIII the castle fell into ruin. The remains of the largest castle in Devon are now owned by English Heritage and open to the public. Nearby the castle are woodland walks, bird spotting, and seasonal wildflowers.

Visitor information: Visit the English Heritage website for opening hours.     

Ruins of Old Tiverton Castle by Derek Voller

Tiverton Castle

Tiverton Castle was originally built in 1106 by King Henry I and during the 13th century and the 14th century, it was considerably enlarged. The castle was once the home of the Earls of Devon and Plantagenet Princess Catherine of York.

After the Civil War much of the medieval castle were destroyed hile the remaining parts are incorporated in the 17th-century country house. Therefore you at the country house you can see architectural periods from the medieval to modern times.

Where: Tiverton

Built: 1106 with 17th century country house

Visitor information: the house and gardens are open to visitors. Visit the website for opening times.

Castle Drogo, Devon by Mr Eugene Birchall

Castle Drogo

Castle Drogo is an early 20th century country house designed by Edwin Lutyens for Julius Drewe. Castle Drogo is the last castle to be built in England and one of the finest buildings by Edwin Lutyens.  

In 1974, the castle was granted to the National Trust, the first 20th century property acquired by the trust. The garden is also designed by Lutyens who also asked Gertrude Jekyll to assist in some of the planning.

Where: Drewsteignon

Built: 1911–1930

Style: Medieval/Tudor

Visitor information: the castle is open to the public with plenty to do for the entire family. Visit the website for more information. 


Compton Castle

Compton Castle is a fortified manor house on the south coast of Devon. During the reign of King Henry II the house was the seat of Sir Maurice de la Pole but for most of its history, it has been owned by the Gilbert family.

In the mid 14th century a manor house was built, which was rebuilt in the 1450s. In the 1520s, the manor house was fortified after the French raids on Plymouth. Slowly, the house fell into decline until Commander Walter Raleigh Gilbert bought the house in 1931 and carefully restored it.    

The most famous resident of Compton Castle was Sir Humphrey Gilbert, half-brother of Sir Walter Raleigh and colonizer of Newfoundland. The castle was also used as a filming location for Sense and Sensibility.

Where: Marldon

Built: 1450s

Visitor information: the house is open to visitors. Visit the website for more information.

Lydford Castle by Andrew Hackney / CC BY-SA 2.0

Lydford Castle

The first castle was a Norman fort built after the Norman conquest of England. The second castle was built in the 12th century and included a stone tower with a surrounding bailey. It was quickly used as a prison which became notorious for its harsh punishments. It is one of the earliest purpose-built prisons in England.

To the south of the former prison you can still see earlier Norman earthwork and to the north, you can see Saxon town defenses.

Visitor Information: the castle is owned by English Heritage and s open to the public. Visit the website for more information.

photo: Charlie Mansfield / CC BY-SA 3.0

Berry Pomeroy Castle

Set inside the walls of an earlier castle stands a ruined Elizabethan manor house that was once the home of the Seymour family. The manor house was built in 1560 by Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset, and enlarged from about 1600.  

In the late 17th century, the castle was abandoned but it became a popular tourist attraction in the 19th century during the “picturesque movement”. The castle is still a popular tourist attraction to this day, also because of the ghost stories that are told about the castle.

Where: Berry Pomeroy

Built: 1560

Visitor information: the castle is open to the public. Visit the website for more information.  

Watermouth Castle

Watermouth Castle is an early 19th century castle in Devon. The castle was designed by George Wightwick for the Bassett family. Despite the name, it’s not actually a castle but a country house that resembles a castle.

The castle is currently a tourist destination that houses a collection of Victorian antiques, a family theme park, and holiday accommodations. Visit the website for more information.

photo: Nilfanion / CC BY-SA 3.0

Kingswear Castle

Kingswear Castle is a 15th century artillery fort that was built to protect Dartmouth harbor against French attacks. Dartmouth harbor at that time was located in the estuary of the River Dart and was an important trading and fishing port.   

In 1855, the castle was transformed into a summer house by Charles Seale Hayne and later it was owned by politician Frederic Bennett.  The castle is now owned by the Landmark Trust who rents it out as a holiday accomondation.

Bovey Castle

Located in the Dartmoor National Park stands Bovey Castle, a grand early 20th century mansion. The house was built in Jacobean style for Frederick Smith after a design by Detmar Blow. Since 1930, Bovey Castle has been a hotel. It’s currently a five-star hotel with a spa and an 18-hole golf course. Book your stay at Bovey Castle Hotel.

Lewis Clarke / Bickleigh : Bickleigh Castle Gatehouse / CC BY-SA 2.0

Bickleigh Castle

Bickleigh Castle is a 15th century mansion that incorporated elements from an earlier Norman castle and stone chapel. During the English Civil War, Queen Henrietta Maria stayed at Bickleigh Castle on her way to Exeter. Eventually the buildings fell into disrepair but they were restored in the early 20th century.

The house is now used as a wedding venue but the house and gardens are also open for tours.

Where: Bickleigh

Built: 15th century with earlier elements

Visitor information: the house is open to visitors. Visit the website for more information.

Historic Country Houses in Devon

photo: Markfromexeter / CC BY-SA 3.0

A La Ronde

A La Ronde is a unique 18th century house in Devon. The 16-sided house was built for two cousins: Jane and Mary Parminter. Jane and Mary were remarkable women. In 1784, Jane and Mary together with Jane’s invalid sister Elizabeth and miss Colville, a London friend set off on a grand tour of Europe. For a couple of years, they toured France, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, and Portugal.

After returning home to Devon, Jane and Mary decided to build a country house inspired by their travels and to house the many items they brought from abroad. Mary also designed many items in the house.

In Mary’s will, she stipulated that the house could only be inherited by unmarried kinswomen. This didn’t happen as Reverend Oswald Reichel lived in the house from 1880-1923.

Where: Lympstone

Built: 1796

Visitor information: the house is open to the public. Visit the website for more information.

Arlington Court by Peter Kazmierczak

Arlington Court

Arlington Court is a 19th century Neoclassical country house in Devon. The house was built for Colonel John Palmer Chichester after a design by Thomas Lee. In 1865, he house was expanded by his grandson.  

The house is now owned by the National Trust. At the house, you can see how the Chichester family lived including their antique furniture collection. At the house yo can also visit the Carriage museum with more than 50 horse-drawn carriages.

Where: Arlington

Built: 1820–23

Style: Neoclassical

Visitor information: the house is open to visitors. Visit the website for more information.

photo: Geertivp / CC BY-SA 4.0

Buckland Abbey

Buckland Abbey is a former Cistercian abbey that was turned into a residence in the 16th century by Sir Richard Grenville the Elder. The abbey was founded in 1278 by Amicia, Countess of Devon and it was one of the last Cistercian houses founded in England.

Parts of the Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery is housed at the abbey as well as a painting by Rembrandt that is shown in the dining room.

Where: Yelverton

Built: 1278

Visitor information: the house is open to visitors. Visit the website for more information.


Castle Hill

Castle Hill in Devon is a neo-Palladian country house built by Hugh Fortescue, 14th Baron Clinton (and later 1st Baron Fortescue and 1st Earl of Clinton). The 18th century mansion is one of the grandest country homes in Devon.

The house is surrounded by a 5,100 acres estate with woodlands, 50-acre gardens, historic follies and fountains. On site, you will also find a sham castle dating from 1746 which served as a banqueting hall and later as a dwelling house.  

Where: Filleigh

Built: 18th century

Style: Palladian

Visitor information: the house and gardens are open to visitors. Visit the website for more information.

photo: Mark Turner / CC BY 2.0

Coleton Fishacre

Coleton Fishacre is an Arts and Crafts country house in Devon. The house was built for Ruper D’Oyly Carte and his wife between 1923 and 1926 after a design by Oswald Milne. Next to the Arts and Crafts style the interiors also show Art Deco elements.

The garden is unique as it has rare and exotic plants that usually only grow in a tropical climate. Thanks to the Gulf Stream the plants also work in this part of Devon.

Where: Kingswear

Built: 1923-1926

Style: Arts and Crafts

Visitor information: the house and garden is open to the public. Visit the website for more information.   

photo: Jason Ballard

Greenway House

Greenway House is an 18th century country house that was once the home of writer Agatha Christie. In 1938, Christie and her husband were looking for a new house when they came across Greenway. She called it a dream house with ‘woods sweeping down to the Dart below and a lot of fine shrubs and trees’.

Agatha Christie and her husband used Greenway as their holiday home until their deaths in 1976 & 1978. After which Christie’s daughter Rosalind lived at Greenway. Greenway also features in some of Christie’s novels.

Where: Galmpton

Built: 1780

Visitor information: the house and garden are owned by the National Trust and it’s open to visitors.  

Great Fulford House

Great Fulford House is a 16th century Tudor mansion with refurbishments from the 17th century and in 1805 James Wyatt refurnished the reception rooms in Gothic style. The estate has been in the de Fulford family for over 800 years.

Private tours of the house can be booked where you will tour all the great rooms as well as the domesticated reception rooms.

Where: Dunsford

Built: 16th century

Visitor information: private tours can be booked on the website.


Hartland Abbey

Hartland Abbey is a former abbey that was transformed into a residence after King Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries. The present house shows some elements from the Tudor times, the two wings were added in 1705. Though much of the house was rebuilt in Strawberry Hill Gothic style in 1779. In the 19th century more alterations were carried out.

The interiors are a blend of Queen Anne style and Strawberry Hill Gothic style. The house has also been used as a film location for Sense and Sensibility and The Night Manager.   

Where: Hartland

Built: 16th century

Style: Strawberry Hill Gothic

Visitor information: the house is open to visitors. Visit the website for more information.

photo: grumpylumixuser / CC BY 3.0

Knightshayes Court

Knightshayes Court is a Victorian stately home designed by William Burges for the Heathcoat-Amory family. The Gothic Revival style that William Burges was famous for was not in style in the twentieth century and much was removed or covered up. When the house was acquired by the National Trust they recovered and restored these elements. At the house, you can also see a self-portrait believed to be by Rembrandt.   

The gardens surrounding the house were designed by Edward Kemp but in the 20th century they were simplified.

Where: Tiverton

Built: 1869-1874

Style: Gothic Revival

Visitor information: the house and garden is open to the public. Visit the website for more information.  

photo: Gerd Eichmann / CC BY-SA 4.0

Saltram House

Saltram House is a Georgian manor house that incorporated an earlier Tudor house. It is one of the best preserved Georgian houses in England with much of its original décor, plasterwork, and furnishings.   

The house also contains a rich collection of paintings, ceramics and textiles. Throughout the year the estate hosts events which can be enjoyed by the entire family. Surrounding the house are beautiful gardens and a park for cyclists, walkers and dogs.

Where: Plymtpon

Built: 18th century

Visitor information: the house is open to the public. Visit the website for more information.

Tapeley Park

Tapeley Park is a Queen Anne style country house that was built around 1704 and has been the home of the Christie family for two centuries. Surrounding the house lies Tapeley Park overlooking the River Torridge and the North Devon coastline.

The park includes Italianate terraces, a working kitchen garden, and a permaculture garden.

Where: Westleigh

Built: 1704

Visitor information: the gardens are open to visitors. Visit the website for more information.

Torre Abbey

Torre Abbey is a former monastery on the South Devon coast which is the best preserved medieval monastery in Devon and Cornwall. After the dissolution of monasteries, it was transformed into a private home. For centuries the house was owned by the Cary family.

The house, set within 18 acres of garden and parkland now houses a museum with an art collection of 600 works from the 18th century to the present day.

Visitor information: the abbey is open to visitors. Visit the website for more information.

photo: It’s No Game / CC BY 2.0

Shute Barton

Shute Barton (or Old Shute House) is a medieval manor house with Tudor additions. The house is one of the most important non-fortified medieval manor houses that has been preserved. The house was built in 1380, and includes expansions from later centuries, though much of the original house has been preserved.  

The National Trust now rents out the medieval house as a holiday accommodation

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