The UK is awash with picturesque castles, colourful botanical gardens and quaint market towns. One town which is a must-visit, especially during the good weather is the village of Dunster in Somerset. This medieval village is one of the largest in England and has much to offer tourists including a working watermill and of course the stunning Dunster Castle. Below are a few reasons to visit the castle and its surrounding areas.
Dunster Castle Somerset has existed since Norman times and offers spectacular views of the village from its commanding position on a 200-foot hill, otherwise known as a Tor. The location was the perfect spot as it could be easily defended.
When you look from the ground up it is a visually impressive fortress and it is clear to see why it has stood the test of time. The castle which is now owned by the National Trust was once home to two families and has undergone many transformations since the 11th and 12th century.
Following a guided tour is one of the best ways to experience everything the castle has to offer, or if you prefer to take your time and casually explore the great halls and beautiful gardens there is the option of a self-guided tour. Both of these will help you to discover how the castle was used during its illustrious history. You’ll be amazed at the stunning interiors and Victorian decoration which capture the essence of British heritage dating back centuries.
Other regular tours include Dunster Uncovered where visitors can experience parts of the castle that many people won’t have seen before. Add to that a host of seasonal events and it’s easy to see why Dunster Castle Somerset is a popular destination with both tourists and locals alike.
Art and gardens
Another highlight of Dunster Castle is undoubtedly the art and tapestries which adorn the walls, including a Tudor copy of Hans Eworth’s famous allegorical portrait of Sir John Luttrell. There is also a collection of leather tapestries showing scenes from the story of Antony and Cleopatra. Not only that but the castle is home to a piano that once belonged to the composer Vivian Ellis.
Outside you can walk through the manicured terraced gardens which include sub-tropical plants and the Dunster Lemon tree. This part of the castle should be enjoyed to its fullest during the summer. The castle grounds which cover approximately 15 acres and are family-friendly with plenty for the kids to enjoy including dress up in the castle or for the braver, ghost hunting.
Dunster has its very own working Watermill which is situated in the grounds of the castle. This 18th-century watermill has been fully restored and is situated on the River Avill, close to Gallox Bridge and is a Grade II listed building. In a world that is so dependent on technology, the watermill can harness the power of the River Avill which turns the waterwheels, gears and millstones to produce traditional wholemeal and spelt flour.
During your visit, you can watch the milling demonstrations throughout the day with volunteer millers answering any questions you have about this working watermill which has been a part of the Dunster Estate since medieval times. After the demonstration, you can then explore three floors of history which showcase traditional machinery and hands-on exhibits. For those people fascinated by mechanical engineering, this is something not to be missed and you can fully appreciate how ancient techniques are still used today.
But it’s not just the castle that should pique your interest. If you are a lover of the great outdoors and long walks there is much to explore including the beautiful Conygar Tower and the Giant’s Chair. For the eagle-eyed tourist, you might be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a red deer or even Exmoor pony – you can even admire the sheer size of England’s tallest tree.
For train enthusiasts, the West Somerset Steam Railway that you can catch at Dunster Railway station is the longest heritage railway in England. Here you can travel in style between Minehead and Bishops Lydeard. During the year there are many special events including steam train galas.
One of the best things about visiting an English village-like Dunster is the independent shops. Here you can find everything from handmade chocolates and jewellery to art galleries and antiques. So when you’re all done shopping and seeing the sights of what this gorgeous village has to offer you can visit one of the pubs, tea rooms or restaurants or even Dunster Accommodation.
If you are planning a trip to Dunster or if you simply want to explore parts of the country you have never been to then Dunster Castle Somerset and the village is a must-visit. For more information check the Dunster Castle Opening Times or browse our website (www.dunster.info) to discover what else this stunning part of Somerset has to offer.