Dunster Castle

dunster castle, somersetDunster Castle, the historical home of the Luttrell family dominates the steep hill overlooking the small picturesque village of Dunster in Somerset.  It looks out over Exmoor and the Bristol Channel and is home to both England's oldest lemon tree and the National collection of strawberry trees.  There has been a castle on the site for over 1000 years. 

Initially the castle was granted by William the Conqueror to William de Mohun whose family lived in the castle until it was sold in 1376 by Lady Joan de Mohun to Lady Elizabeth Luttrell.  The descendants of Lady Elizabeth Luttrell owned the castle until 1976.

By the 15th century, the sea which had earlier reached the base of the hill offering a natural defence, had receded and the deer park was created by the Luttrells.  When he inherited the castle in 1571 AD, Sir George Luttrell found it dilapidated and unoccupied so is 1617 AD he employed the architect William Arnold to create a new house in the lower part of the castle. During the English Civil War, Dunster Castle was a royalist stronghold and it came under siege by Parliamentary forces in 1645 AD eventually leading to the surrender of the castle in April 1646 AD.  Of course after this time the defences of the castle were demolished to prevent any further use against Parliament.  All that remains of the mediaeval fortifications today are the gatehouse and the stumps of two Towers.  The castle was redesigned by Anthony Salvin in the 19th century. There have been many ghostly occurrences in the area of this castle and the castle itself. The shop, originally part of the stable block, is haunted by a man dressed in green. Items in the shop seem to mysteriously tumble and certain items have been spoiled by a sticky brown substance.  No one can explain where this comes from.

One of the weirdest occurrences took place in the modern Blue Kitchen which used to be the butler's pantry and silver cleaning rooms.  A young lad employed on a work experience programme was mopping the floor on his own but ran from the area after apparently seeing a bare foot appear out of thin air!  He said that it looked as though it was covered in a strange white powder.

It is generally agreed however that the most haunted room in the castle is the 'Leather Gallery'.  It gained its name due to the leather hangings depicting the story of Antony and Cleopatra.  Many have attested to hearing men's voices at night along with doors banging and footsteps and generally speaking no one likes to work there.  Apparently, a medium once visited the castle and was of the opinion that one particular ghost which had been seen by a cleaner was that of a royalist soldier called Richard who had met his death in the castle grounds from a puncture wound above his right eye.

These are just a few of the spooky occurrences in this fine mediaeval castle.