Historic Houses & Museums
Dunster Castle and Village
Dunster Castle and Village is a former motte and bailey castle, now a country house in the village of Dunster, Somerset. The castle sits proudly on top of a steep, heavily wooded hill called the Tor and has been fortified since the late Anglo-Saxon period. The castle you now see today became a lavish country home during the 19th century for the Luttrell family who lived in the house for over 600 years. They then gave the house to the National Trust who now keep the house clean and in working order for its thousands of visitors.
The castle boasts spectacular views of the Bristol channel, the Quantock hills and the moors of Exmoor. Not only are the views from the castle beautiful but the gardens at Dunster are equally as breath-taking. The results of 100’s of years of planning, building and restoration, a walk around the gardens at Dunster castle takes you around the world and through four different micro climates.
If flora and fauna doesn’t excite you then the history of the castle and village certainly will. With over 1,000 years of history the castle has plenty of amazing stories to tell. From how the house was besieged during the English Civil War to how the home was gifted to the Norman de Mohuns, who had been granted the lands at Dunster by William the Conqueror for services at the Battle of Hastings.
Not only does the castle have tea rooms and cafe’s but the village is also home to quaint and charming pubs if you fancy something more substantial.
So, visit Dunster Castle and Village today for a great family day out in the heart of Somerset.
The village of Montacute is an extremely picturesque place, with its ham stone cottages, quaint inns and country gardens. When travelling through the village you may suddenly be drawn to a pair of impressive gates and a long, well-maintained drive. And at the end of this drive proudly sits a stunning house.
This is Montacute House, built by Sir Edward Phelips, a wealthy lawyer and member of Elizabeth 1st’s parliament, which was completed in 1601. The house was built in 1598 and inhabited by the Phelips family until 1911 when it was rented out, and put up for sale in 1929, and was then acquired by The National Trust in 1931.
The house was built in an English Renaissance style, this grade 1 listed building is one of the few houses to have remained virtually unchanged since Elizabethan times. The east front of the property is home to large mullioned windows, giving the impression that the whole facade is made of glass. Whereas the opposite side of the house, the west front was removed from nearby Clifton Maybank House and re-erected at Montacute in 1786
The gardens surrounding the house are ever changing, filling the house with scent in summer and providing an atmospheric backdrop for a winter walk. Montacute House is one of the very few houses in England to have retained its setting within a compartmented garden, and in the summer months, each compartment offers you something special and individual.
Maintained by The National Trust, the house is open to the public from March to October, every year, whilst the gardens, shop and cafe are open all year.
So, whether you’re visiting with your family or a loved one you will be left with lasting memories and a desire to soon return.
The Museum of Somerset
If you’re looking for a great history filled family day out then look no further than The Museum of Somerset. The museum is based at Taunton Castle, which is a Grade 1 listed Scheduled ancient monument standing in the heart of Somerset’s county town. The castle has been home to the museum for well over 100 years and may well be located on the site of an earlier Saxon settlement. Within the 12th-century castle walls, you’ll find contemporary gallery spaces and great family visitor facilities all for free.
The gallery spaces within the castle are broken down into a variety of elements ranging from the foundations that Somerset is built on, to rebellions in the 17th century in our county. If neither of these spaces interest you there are seven other amazing themed galleries to be traversed each with their own distinctive character. Not only this the museum hosts a range of must-see exhibits which are placed within the museum’s nine themed galleries from a stunning mosaic made during the 4th century AD, to the largest collection of English 17th Century Cauldrons and skillets in existence.
While the castle is now a museum which holds an abundance of interesting artefacts the castle has an amazing history of its own to be explored. The castle holds a range of fascinating facts, from that the castle was used as a prison and assize court for many centuries to the castle being visited by King John and Henry III. Not only this but the castle also endured sieges, bombardments and fierce battles during the English Civil War. These are just a few of many of the captivating facts that The Museum of Somerset has to offer.
So visit The Museum of Somerset today to find out more about the amazing history that is on our doorstep waiting to be explored!
Barrington Court is Grade I listed 16th Century Tudor House based in Barrington near Ilminster. It remained derelict until the early 1900s, when Colonel Lyle (Of Tate & Lyle) leased the property and began its restoration which was finished in the 1920s. Today, it is a National Trust property that is open to the public 7 days a week.
The rooms have been restored with a combination of the original decor and other antiquities from rescued historical buildings – for instance, did you know one of the Fireplaces was rescued from a century’s old Scottish Castle? Enter the Great Hall which you can enter or view from the Minstrel’s Gallery and let your mind wander back to Tudor Times. Barrington Court boasts multiple bedrooms and bathrooms that have much of the original beautiful hand-painted tiles still in place. One of the more interesting locations within the Manor is the Long Gallery – beautifully crafted with artisan crafted wall panels. Look out for the Skull and Crossbones and the Axeman’s block engravings within the wood panels – Can you find anymore secrets within the wall panel?
If you’re feeling peckish why not visit the Cafe Diner situated within the grounds of Barrington Court? The cafe is supplied by the original bespoke Tudor kitchen, giving it that little extra bit of authenticity. From handmade cakes and sandwiches to main courses, they’re sure to have you covered.
If the great outdoors is something you desire Barrington Court can deliver this requirement. Barrington Court has a wide variety of gardens including the Walled White Garden, Rose and Iris Garden and the Lily Garden. The gardens are maintained all year round making it the perfect stop for nature and fauna lovers. Come and explore the beautiful gardens and fountains at Barrington Court.
Before you leave, be sure to visit their unique gift shop. They’re well stocked with souvenirs, local award-winning cider, plants and juice. They also have an independent crafter’s stall that sells a quality range of handcrafted items, from pottery, jewellery, patchwork and woodcarvings, providing one of the most unique gift shop stalls of any heritage site.
Make Barrington Court a unique day out for you and your family.