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Historic England Research Records

Nunney Castle

Hob Uid: 202784
Location :
Somerset
Mendip
Nunney
Grid Ref : ST7367145729
Summary : Nunney Castle is a quadrangular castle in the centre of the village of Nunney, on the west bank of Nunney Brook. The castle is of a highly distinctive design, consisting of a tall four storey rectangular building containing the principal rooms, with large closely-spaced circular towers providing more private chambers. The towers still rise almost to their full height, and are crested by a parapet surmounted by a drum turret. They were originally covered by conical roofs whilst the main block had a pitched roof. Entry was on the ground floor via a drawbridge from the North. The building is tightly enclosed by a wide moat. The interior originally comprised of Kitchen and stores on the ground floor, servants' quarters on the first floor, the principal rooms including the Great Hall on the second floor and sleeping chambers above. Nunney Castle was built by Sir John de la Mare in 1373, later Keeper of Old Sarum and Sheriff of Somerset, when he obtained a licence to fortify and 'crenelate' his house. He contributed to the one hundred years war in France and the castle has evidently been influenced by the French tradition of architecture. It was extensively modernised in the late 16th century. The owners, the Prater family, were Royalists and Roman Catholic in the Civil War, and the castle was besieged by the Parliamentarians in 1645, falling after two days when the north side of the castle was severely damaged by gunfire. It was 'slighted' thereafter, although the walls were left intact, the north wall only finally collapsing on Christmas Day 1910. The moat was restored in the early part of the 20th century. Originally it would have been far more substantial, with water extending to the castle walls. Nikolaus Pevsner described the castle in his Buildings of England series as 'aesthetically the most impressive castle in Somerset'. The castle is in the care of English Heritage.
More information : [ST 73664572] Castle [G.T.]. (1)

See M.P.B.W. pamphlet attached. (2)

There are traces of a bailey to the North and West of Nunney
Castle (3)

Scheduled. (4)

Toy illustrates two small linear earthworks at ST 73584579 on rising ground N.W. of Nunney Castle. They are not part of a bailey. The northerly feature is a small bank of earth and stones, with one end turning at right angles away from the castle. It appears to be an old field boundary. The other earthwork overlooks the castle. It is a rectangular platform 150 metres by 10 metres by 0.5m. high; and is probably an ornamental work associated with the Georgian house in whose grounds it lies. (5)

Additional references (6-7)

Scheduled listing. (8)

Listed by Cathcart king. (9)

Nunney Castle is a quadrangular castle in the centre of the village of Nunney, on the west bank of Nunney Brook. The castle is of a highly distinctive design, consisting of a tall four storey rectangular building containing the principal rooms, with large closely-spaced circular towers providing more private chambers. The towers still rise almost to their full height, and are crested by a parapet surmounted by a drum turret. They were originally covered by conical roofs whilst the main block had a pitched roof. Entry was on the ground floor via a drawbridge from the North. The building is tightly enclosed by a wide moat. The interior originally comprised of Kitchen and stores on the ground floor, servants' quarters on the first floor, the principal rooms including the Great Hall on the second floor and sleeping chambers above. Nunney Castle was built by Sir John de la Mare in 1373, later Keeper of Old Sarum and Sheriff of Somerset, when he obtained a licence to fortify and 'crenelate' his house. He contributed to the one hundred years war in France and the castle has evidently been influenced by the French tradition of architecture. It was extensively modernised in the late 16th century. The owners, the Prater family, were Royalists and Roman Catholic in the Civil War, and the castle was besieged by the Parliamentarians in 1645, falling after two days when the north side of the castle was severely damaged by gunfire. It was 'slighted' thereafter, although the walls were left intact, the north wall only finally collapsing on Christmas Day 1910. The moat was restored in the early part of the 20th century. Originally it would have been far more substantial, with water extending to the castle walls. In 1926, Robert Bailey-Neale, lord of the manor, placed the castle in the guardianship of the Ministry of Works. Nikolaus Pevsner described the castle in his Buildings of England series as 'aesthetically the most impressive castle in Somerset'.
(1-12)

Source 13 is an additional source which includes a brief accessible overview of the history of Nunney Castle for visitors. (13)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : OS 6" 1961.
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Source Number : 2
Source : Nunney Castle, Somerset
Source details :
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Source Number : 11
Source : The Buildings of England
Source details : Pevsner, Nikolaus. 1973. Buildings of England: North Somerset and Bristol.
Page(s) : 48, 238
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 13
Source Number : 12
Source : SOMERSET CASTLES
Source details : Dunning, Robert. 1995. Somerset Castles. Tiverton: Somerset Books
Page(s) : 63-65
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Source Number : 13
Source : Heritage Unlocked: Guide to free sites in Devon, Dorset and Somerset
Source details :
Page(s) : 75-77
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Source Number : 3
Source : The castles of Great Britain
Source details :
Page(s) : 222
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Source Number : 4
Source : Scheduled Monument Notification
Source details : Ministry of Works. 1961. Ancient Monuments of England and Wales, 83
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Source Number : 5
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F1 JP 26-AUG-64
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Source Number : 6
Source : Ancient earthworks and camps of Somerset
Source details :
Page(s) : 128-9
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Source Number : 7
Source : Scheduled Monument Notification
Source details : DOE SAM Rec Form 3rd Nov 1986
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Source Number : 8
Source : Scheduled Monument Notification
Source details : 10-Jul-96
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Source Number : 9
Source : Castellarium anglicanum : an index and bibliography of the castles in England, Wales and the Islands. Volume II : Norfolk-Yorkshire and the islands
Source details :
Page(s) : 444
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 2
Source Number : 10
Source : World Wide Web page
Source details : 2007. The Heritage Trail. http://www.theheritagetrail.co.uk/castles/nunney%20castle.htm [Accessed 11-JUN-2008]
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Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Licenced 1373
Monument End Date : 1373
Monument Start Date : 1373
Monument Type : Quadrangular Castle, Moat
Evidence : Ruined Building, Earthwork, Extant Building
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : repaired late 16th century
Monument End Date : 1600
Monument Start Date : 1567
Monument Type : Quadrangular Castle
Evidence : Ruined Building, Extant Building
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : Slighted 1645
Monument End Date : 1645
Monument Start Date : 1645
Monument Type : Quadrangular Castle
Evidence : Ruined Building, Extant Building
Monument Period Name : Early 20th Century
Display Date : moat restored Early 20th Century
Monument End Date : 1932
Monument Start Date : 1901
Monument Type : Moat
Evidence : Earthwork
Monument Period Name : Early 20th Century
Display Date : north wall collapsed 1910
Monument End Date : 1910
Monument Start Date : 1910
Monument Type : Quadrangular Castle
Evidence : Ruined Building, Extant Building

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (County No.)
External Cross Reference Number : SO 2
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (National No.)
External Cross Reference Number : 22077
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : EH Property Number
External Cross Reference Number : 291
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : ViewFinder
External Cross Reference Number : AA52/08053
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Somerset)
External Cross Reference Number : 23897
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Somerset)
External Cross Reference Number : 27446
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : ST 74 NW 6
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Related Activities :
Associated Activities : Primary, FIELD OBSERVATION ON ST 74 NW 6
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1964-08-26
End Date : 1964-08-26