Houses & Castles

Dartmouth Castle

Dartmouth Castle

One of the most picturesquely-sited fortresses in England. Dartmouth Castle is one of a pair of forts, the other being Kingswear Castle, that guard the mouth of the Dart Estuary and the busy port of Dartmouth.

This fascinating complex of defences was begun in 1388 by John Hawley, privateering Mayor of Dartmouth and rumoured to be the basis for the Shipman in Chaucer’s ‘Canterbury Tales’.

The present Gun Tower building is the earliest surviving English coastal fortress specifically built to carry guns. It was built by the corporation of Dartmouth between 1481 and 1495 and additions, including open-air gun platforms, were made during the 16th century by Henry VIII and again in the 17th century in order to accommodate new military technology.

During the Civil War it was besieged for one month and then taken by the Royalists, who then constructed an earthwork fort above the Castle at Gallant’s Bower to protect its landward side. After being held by them for 3 years it was attacked and taken by Sir Thomas Fairfax for the Parliamentarians in 1646.

The castle continued in use as a working fort until the nineteenth century, when it housed five huge 64-pdr cannons on traversing carriages. The 19th century Gun Battery is the most substantial remaining part of the castle and itself remained in military use throughout the First and Second World Wars, overlooking the D-Day preparations in the latter.

Location
Castle Road, Dartmouth, Devon TQ6 0JN

Dartmouth Castle is in the ownership of English Heritage

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Totnes Castle

Totnes Castle

A classic Norman motte and bailey castle, founded soon after the Conquest to overawe the Saxon town. A later stone shell-keep crowns its steep mound, giving sweeping views across the town rooftops to the River Dart.

The castle occupies a commanding position atop a large hill above the town, and guards the approach to three valleys.  The castle is a scheduled monument and a Grade I* listed building.

Location
Castle Street, Totnes, Devon TQ9 5NU

Since 1984, the castle has been under the stewardship of English Heritage.

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Berry Pomeroy Castle

Berry Pomeroy Castle

Berry Pomeroy Castle, a Tudor mansion within the walls of an earlier castle, is near the village of Berry Pomeroy. It was built in the late 15th century by the Pomeroy family which had held the land since the 11th century. By 1547 the family was in financial difficulties and sold the lands to Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset. Apart from a short period of forfeit to the Crown after Edward’s execution, the castle has remained in the Seymour family ever since, although it was abandoned in the late 17th century when the fourth baronet moved to Wiltshire.

After lying in ruins for a hundred years, the 19th century saw the castle being celebrated as an example of the “picturesque”, and it became a popular tourist attraction, a status which it retains today—aided by its reputation of being haunted. Between 1980 and 1996 the castle was subjected to extensive archaeological excavations that clarified much of its history and overturned previously-held beliefs regarding its age and cause of destruction.

Tucked away in a deep wooded valley, Berry Pomeroy Castle is the perfect romantic ruin.

Location
Berry Pomery, Totnes, Devon TQ9 6LJ

Visit the English Heritage Website

Coleton Fishacre

Coleton Fishacre

The house at Coleton Fishacre was built as a country home for Rupert D’Oyly Carte and his wife, Lady Dorothy Carte, between 1925 and 1926.  The architect was Oswald Milne, a former assistant to Edwin Lutyens, who designed the house with the principles of the Arts and Crafts movement in mind: simplicity of design and quality of craftsmanship. The influence of this older movement notwithstanding, the house is influenced by its own time, especially in its Art Deco interior. The structure is built of local slate rubble with a Delabole slate roof.

The garden at Coleton Fishacre runs down a narrow combe from the house to the sea at Pudcombe Cove. The garden, originally planted by Lady Dorothy, features rare and exotic plants, some of which are unusual in their ability to grow outside a tropical climate due to the proximity of the Gulf Stream to this part of the coast of Devon. Lady Dorothy was noted for retrieving exotic plant species for the garden during her journeys abroad.

Coleton Fishacre was acquired by the National Trust in 1982 and opened to the public in 1999.

Location
Brownstone Road, Kingswear, Devon TQ6 0EQ

Telephone: 01803 752466 | Fax: 01803 753017 | Email: coletonfishacre@nationaltrust.org.uk

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Greenway

Greenway

Greenway has become famous as the holiday home of renowned author Agatha Christie but it has has a fascinating earlier history. Located on the banks of the River Dart opposite Dittisham it was first mentioned in 1493 as “Greynway”, the crossing point of the Dart to Dittisham.

In the late 16th century a Tudor mansion called Greenway Court was built by the Gilbert family. Greenway was the birthplace of Humphrey Gilbert, the Elizabethan Explorer. Later, his half-brother Sir Walter Raleigh also came to live there.

The present Georgian house was probably built in the late 18th century by Roope Harris Roope and extended by subsequent owners. It was bought by Agatha Christie and her husband Max Mallowan in 1938.

The Greenway Estate was acquired by the National Trust in 1999 and it is now a Grade II* listed building. The estate is known for its large riverside gardens, which contain plants from the southern hemisphere.  The garden is open to the public as is the Barn Gallery, which shows work by contemporary local artists. The house’s restoration is complete and it is open to the public.

Location
Greenway Road, Galmpton, near Brixham, Devon TQ5 0ES

Telephone: 01803 842382 | Fax: 01803 661900 | Email: greenway@nationaltrust.org.uk

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Overbecks

Overbeck’s

Overbeck’s Museum and Garden is an Edwardian house and 7 acre garden at Sharpitor, Salcombe. It is named after its last private owner Otto Christop Joseph Gerhardt Ludwig Overbeck (c.1852–1937). The house is now divided between museum and YHA youth hostel.

The original building on the site was a small villa “Sharpitor” erected by Salcombe builder Albert Stumbles. This was bought in 1901 by Edric Hopkins, who also bought 2 acres more of land, creating terraces and planting exotic specimens on the sheltered site. In 1913 the property was bought by Mr and Mrs Vereker who demolished the original house and had the present one built.

Otto Overbeck acquired the house in 1928 and lived there until his death in 1937. Wishing the house to be used after his death as “a public park and museum and a Hostel for Youth” Overbeck bequeathed it to the National Trust on condition it be used as such and not as a brothel as so many in the surrounding area became.

The museum houses displays of some of Overbeck’s inventions and collections of stuffed animals, and exhibitions of model sailing ships and various nautical and shipbuilding tools and effects. There are display photographs of boats and shipwrecks (such as the Herzogin Cecilie). A room in the middle of the house, one of whose entrances is a secret door concealed in the wooden panelling of the room outside, contains a display of dolls’ houses, amongst which is placed by staff “Fred the friendly ghost” for child visitors to discover.

The museum contains a “Polyphon” — a large musical box which plays music encoded as holes punched in large sheet-metal discs. There is a collection of discs of popular melodies of the day which are played from time to time during the day when the museum is open.  There is also a collection of photographs by Edward Chapman who worked in and photographed Salcombe — including the building of the first house on the site — during the early 20th Century. The photographs have been reprinted from the original plates by Chapman’s son and his grandson, Chris Chapman, who continues the family photography business in Plymouth.

Location
Sharpitor, Salcombe, Devon TQ8 8LW

Telephone: 01548 842893 | Fax: 01548 845020 | Email: overbecks@nationaltrust.org.uk

Visit the National Trust Website

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Dartmouth | Dittisham | Hope Cove | KingsbridgeNoss Mayo | River Dart | Salcombe | Thurlestone | Torcross

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