The Best Castles & Stately Homes in Somerset

In the South West of England you can find Somerset county. Somerset is a rural county in the West Country with a beautiful landscape with (limestone) hills and the Exmoor National Park.

But there is another reason to visit the county and that is the Somerset castles, stately homes, and manor houses. These beautiful castles and historic houses provide a great day out for people who love history, historic architecture, and beautiful gardens.

In the county of Somerset lies the popular city of Bath and most of these castles can be visited on a day trip from this historic city. This post shows a list of the best castles, manor houses, and castle ruins in Somerset.

Castles in Somerset


Dunster Castle

Dunster Castle is a former motte and bailey castle located on a steep hill called the Tor. The site has been inhabited since the Anglo-Saxon period but it was after the Norman conquest of England that William de Mohun built a timber castle on this site, from this castle the 13th century lower level gateway with its massive iron-bound oak doors remains.

For 600 years, the castle has been owned by the Luttrell family. They turned the medieval stronghold into a family home. In 1617, the castle was transformed into a Jacobean mansion and in 1868 the mansion was transformed into a Victorian family home by architect Anthony Salvin by adding Gothic and Picturesque elements. Just south of the castle you can find a restored 18th century castle watermill.  

Where: Dunster

Built: 11th century with later remodels

Style: Jacobean

Visitor information: the castle is owned by the National Trust. Visit the website for opening times.  

Taunton Castle

The history of Taunton Castle goes back to the Anglo-Saxon period but the first castle was built in 1129 by William Giffard in the Norman period. At that time the site belonged to the Bishops of Winchester who built a priory on this site. By the late 12th century there was a keep with a Great Hall and a stone vaulted undercroft.

By 1600, the castle had fallen into ruin but during the Civil War it was repaired. In the Great Hall, Judge Jeffreys held the Bloody Assizes following the Monmouth Rebelion. 144 supporters of James Monmouth were hanged.

The Norman keep was again repaired in 1780 by Sir Benjamin Hammet in Georgian style. Today, the Great Hall and inner ward of Taunton Castle house the Museum of Somerset.

Where: Taunton

Built: 1129

Style: Norman

Visitor information: the museum is open to visitors. Visit the website for current opening hours.

photo: Hadrianus1959 / CC BY-SA 4.0

Bishop’s Palace

For 800 years, the Bishop’s palace & Gardens in Wells have been the home of the Bishops of Bath and Wells. The medieval palace was founded in 1210 with the great hall, chapel, gatehouse, and moat added in later years. In the mid 1300s, bishop Ralph added ramparts for protection and as a symbol of authority and power. Today, from these ramparts you have a wonderful view of Glastonbury Tor, the Mendips, and the Wells Cathedral.

Every bishop left a mark on this spectacular building. During a visit you can learn more about the history with exhibitions ranging from art to history and to artifacts that links to the spiritual role of this site.    

On site you can also visit the Chapel, built between 1275 and 1292 it’s a great example of Early English Decorated Style.  Surrounding the palace lie 14 acres of tranquil gardens.

Where: Wells

Built: 1210

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

Walton Castle

Walton Castle is a 17th century mock castle on a hill in Clevedon. The castle was built by John Poulett, 1st Baron Poulett to use as a hunting lodge. However, in 1791 the castle was derelict after the Poulett family lost their fortune after the English Civil War.    

In the early 19th century the castle was bought by the Miles family. But it took a long time before it was restored. Currently, Walton Castle is a wedding venue and holiday accommodation with eight bedrooms, an indoor heated pool, a hot tub, a pool table, and table football.

Castle Ruins in Somerset

photo: Msemmett / CC BY-SA 4.0

Nunney Castle

Nunney Castle is a medieval moated castle in Somerset. The picturesque castle was built in the 1370s by Sir John de la Mare after he made a profit in the Hundred Years War. In the late 16th century, the castle was remodeled and modernized though in 1645 the castle was besieged and damaged by the Parliamentarians during the English Civil War.

Even though the castle is ruined you can still see much of the original castle. The Great Tower is well preserved and the four round corner towers and connecting walls are still visible.

Where: Nunney

Built: 1370s

Visitor information: the castle is owned by English Heritage. Visit the website for opening hours.

photo: Rodw / CC BY-SA 3.0

Farleigh Hungerford Castle

Located in the valley of the river Frome stand the remains of Farleigh Hungerford Castle (or Farley Castle). The castle was built in the 14th century and owned by the Hungerford family for more than 300 years.

The Audio Tour and graphic panels tell you the (sometimes gruesome) history of the castle and the family. And the castle offers more. There is a chapel with rare Medieval wall paintings and family tombs. A priest’s house and a crypt with human-shaped lead coffins.

Where: Farleigh Hungerford

Built: 14th century

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

Stogursey Castle

Stogursey Castle is a ruined medieval castle though the thatched gatehouse is currently a holiday rental by the Landmark Trust. The castle was built by the De Courcy family in the late 11th or early 12th century. The motte-and-bailey castle was surrounded by a moat.

The castle was ordered to be destroyed by King John of England but that didn’t happen. In 1300 it was tuned into a stone castle but this was presumably destroyed in the 1450s during the War of the Roses.

Daws Castle

Daws Castle is a ruined clifftop fortress that was founded by King Alfred to protect the people of Watchet against Viking attacks from the Bristol Channel. The name Daws Castle comes from Thomas Dawe who owned castell field in the 16th century.

The site is now owned by English Heritage and can be visited during daylight hours.  

Manor Houses in Somerset

photo: Becks

Barrington Court

Barrington Court is a manor house in Somerset. It is one of the earliest examples of a classic E-shaped Elizabethan manor house. The manor was built in 1552 by William Clifton and later became a tenant farm. A fire in the 19th century destroyed much of the interiors.

In the early 20th century the house was acquired by the National Trust and leased it to Colonel Lyle. He and his wife restored the manor house and added a new Arts and Crafts-style garden after a design by Getrude Jekyll.

Where: Barrington

Built: 1550s

Style: Elizabethan

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

photo: Becks / CC BY 2.0

Clevedon Court

Clevedon Court is an early 14th century manor house in Somerset. The house has been extended multiple times over the years. The oldest surviving parts of the house are the Great Hall and the Chapel block.

In the 18th century, the manor house was acquired by the Elton family whose descendants still live in the house. Surrounding the house lies a beautiful 18th century terraced garden.

Where: Clevedon

Built: 14th century

Style: Medieval/Elizabethan

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

photo: xlibber / CC BY 2.0

Cothay Manor

Cothay Manor is one of the finest examples of a small medieval manor house in England. The house dates back to 1480 and has been lovingly restored with period furniture and fabrics by the current owners.  

You can learn more about the history of Cothay by a guided tour through several rooms of the house. The wonderful interiors include uncovered 15th century wall paintings to Stained Glass windows and 17th century oak paneling.   

Surrounding the house are twelve acres of gardens with several garden rooms, fine trees, a cottage garden, courtyards, and a river walk.

Where: Greenham

Built: 1480

Visitor information: Visit the website for more information.

photo: Wehha / CC BY-SA 3.0

Lytes Cary

Lytes Cary is a manor house whose history dates back to the 14th century though many new sections have been added in later centuries. Despite the many building periods, all the architectural styles work together.  

In 1907, Sir Walter Jenner bought and restored the house. He filled the house with period furniture mainly dating from the 17th and 18th century. Surrounding the house are gardens in arts and crafts style.

Where: Charlton Mackrell

Built: 14th century

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

photo: bixentro / CC BY 2.0

Montacute House

Montacute House is a late Elizabethan manor house in South Somerset. Montacute is one of the few prodigy houses in England that has been left largely unchanged. The architecture of the manor house is unique as it clearly shows the development from medieval Gothic to Renaissance classical style.

At Montacute House you can find the longest “Long Gallery” in England. In the Long Gallery you can find portraits on loan from the National Portrait Gallery. Surrounding the house are beautiful gardens.

Where: Montacute

Built: 1601

Style: Elizabethan

Visitor information: the house, gardens, parkland, and café are open to the public. Visit the website for opening hours.   

Related post: Montacute House is a film location for Sense and Sensibility. Read more on the Sense & Sensibility film locations that you can visit.

photo: Chilli Head / CC BY 2.0


Tyntesfield is a Victorian Gothic manor house near Bristol. In the 1830s a Georgian mansion was built on site that was remodeled into an ornate Victorian mansion in the mid 19th century.

The ornate Gothic Revival mansion has soaring pinnacles, crenelated towers, oriel windows, and arched made from local Bath stone. The interiors are designed by J.G. Grace and include neo-Gothic stained glass, mosaics by Salviati, and stenciled wall panels and ornate ironwork.

Where: Wraxall

Built: 1830s

Style: Gothic Revival

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

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