It being a rather rainy and overcast day, and in no way ideal for paddleboarding, we left the comfort of Westcliffe, our rental property from Toad Hall Cottages and headed towards Totnes.
After a good roast dinner in the King William IV pub, we headed towards Berry Pomeroy to explore what was, once, one of the grandest houses in Elizabethan Devon.
The ruins of Berry Pomeroy Castle lie in deep woods on a spur above Devon’s Gatcombe Valley. During the Wars of the Roses (1455 – 1485), the Pomeroy family hide from violent feuds by building the castle within their deer park.
Bought by Edward VI, Lord Protector Somerset in the 16th Century, his descendants went on to build an Elizabethan mansion within the medieval walls, much of which remains.
The castle and its surroundings are said to be among the most haunted sites in Britain. Berry Pomeroy’s most famous ghost is the White Lady who originates in the Gothic tale “The Castle of Berry Pomeroy” – a story of two sisters, Elinor and Matilda Pomeroy. Elinor banishes her prettier sibling to a dark dungeon until her death and it is Matilda who haunts the castle.
There is plenty of room at Berry Pomeroy Castle for children to roam about (under adult supervision of course) and we were treated to lesson by one of English Heritage’s staff during which we were challenged to identify Tudor objects and then taught some very dangerous sword-fencing moves guaranteed to see off our rivals in the most blood-curdling manner.
Take a bunch of grown adults and enthusiastic kids being taught moves such as “The Plough” and “The Ox” (stab through the belly and cut the head off) whilst shouting their most terrifying war cry and you’ll find something more fun and scarier than Fortnite any day.
Then it was back to The Castle Cafe for a decent brew. The cafe offers a tempting selection of homemade cakes – which I wasn’t allowed by the Husband due to my, um, increasing girth and cream teas (don’t even ask). The kids had their 97th ice-cream of the holiday and we were all (apart from the cake ban) happy.
There are toilets, although there is just one for male and female and I couldn’t see any disabled facilities.
The small car park does, however, have a couple of disabled spaces and the grounds are relatively flat, although obviously, sections of the castle will be unreachable.
There is a small shop where you pay your entry fee and you can find novelties, guidebooks and gifts such as honey.
A family ticket is £18.70, however, knowing that we will be returning to Devon I purchased a year’s membership of English Heritage for £99. If you pay by direct debit you get an extra 3 months free membership. You also get 50% off at Cadw and Historic Scotland sites and there are other discounts available, for example, 50% off at nearby Kents Caverns.
Be aware that, as with National Trust, if you have a family membership with two adult cards, they do like you to present both when you visit. This seems odd to me because a family membership card is, surely, a family membership card and clearly includes everyone but it’s best to be on the safe side and not travel miles only to be turned away.
That minor annoyance aside, if you enjoy visiting the many beautiful and historic sites that litter our country, then you will soon make your money back and start saving.
Berry Pomeroy Castle is open from 10 am till 6 pm most days but check before you visit.