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HER Number:MDV9051
Name:Berry Pomeroy Castle


Ruins of Berry Pomeroy, a medieval castle, with ruins of large Elizabethan house within the walls. Situated on a wooded hill with a steep bluff to the north and a dried moat to the south.


Grid Reference:SX 838 623
Map Sheet:SX86SW
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishBerry Pomeroy
DistrictSouth Hams
Ecclesiastical ParishBERRY POMEROY

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX86SW/10
  • Old Listed Building Ref (I)
  • Old SAM County Ref: 1
  • Old SAM Ref: 21706
  • Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division: SX86SW 29
  • SHINE Candidate (Yes)
  • Tide Project: 24/03/2020

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • CASTLE (XV to XVI - 1401 AD to 1600 AD)

Full description

English Heritage, 05/03/2014, Berry Pomeroy Castle (Correspondence). SDV356410.

Scheduled Monument consent granted to carry out works for masonry repairs to the north range.

Prince, J., 1810, Worthies of Devon, 35 (Monograph). SDV16199.

Parker, J. H., 1859, Untitled Source, 15 (Monograph). SDV341289.

Murray, J, 1859, Untitled Source, 55 (Monograph). SDV341287.

Unknown, 1882, Berry Pomeroy Castle, 134 (Article in Serial). SDV341288.

Reichel, O. J., 1896, The Devonshire 'Domesday' III. Berry Pomeroy and Stockleigh Pomeroy. A contribution to the ecomomic history of the cultivating classes in Domesday., 362-390 (Article in Serial). SDV341283.

Ministry of Works, 1922, Berry Pomeroy Castle (Schedule Document). SDV341263.

Situated 2 miles east of Totnes. Originally erected, it is said, by Ralph de la Pomeroy, who received the Manor at the Conquest. The principal portion of the existing ruins formed part of a splendid mansion begun by the Protector Somerset, who became possessor of the Estate on the confiscation of the property of Sir Thomas Pomeroy in 1549. The whole structure is now thickly overgrown with ivy, and lofty trees have arisen within it. The circuit of the older (Norman?) walls is complete, and the various portions of Chapel, Hall etc of later date still identifiable.Thirteenth century gateway with arms of Pomeroy. Elizabethan group of buildings said to have been left uncompleted.

Mortimer, T. C. + Mortimer, A. E., 1942, Untitled Source (Monograph). SDV341302.

Cambridge University Collection, 1950, DAP/FL, 46-49 (Aerial Photograph). SDV341298.

Cambridge University Collection, 1952, DAP/HR, 60 (Aerial Photograph). SDV341294.

Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, 1953 - 1980, SX86SW29 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV341284.

Remains of Berry Pomeroy Castle, a 13th-16th century fortified Mansion.
St. Margaret's Tower, West Tower, Gateway, Wishing Tree.
Scheduled Monument.
1. Berry Pomeroy Castle - in possession of only two families since the Norman Conquest. There is little known of its history but a defensive building had no doubt been planted on the Norman mount.
2. The existing ruins are of two distinct periods, those of the late 13th century and those of the mansion built by the Seymour family in the mid 16th century. The Gatehouse and St. Margaret's Tower with the southern curtain wall joining them and a portion of the western wall from the Gatehouse northwards are the only 13th century remains. The building of the 16th century was never entirely complete and by 1700 was in a state of ruin. The causes of ruination are attributed to either the civil war seige, or more likely, that it was struck by lightning and destroyed by fire.
3. The Wishing Tree is said by some to be as old as the Castle itself, a probable exaggeration, but it is undoubtedly of great antiquity. The custom is to walk backwards three times around the tree and express a wish.
4. The remains of Berry Pomeroy Castle are extensive and in a good state of preservation. They are owned by the Duke of Somerset and are open to the public (Centred at SX83906229). For extent and general condition see 1:2500 'inset' and ground photographs respectively. The Wishing Tree, situated at SX84006232, is a beech tree of questionable antiquity, scarred by fire and largely decayed. Other details: Photos and map.

Department of Environment, 1977, Berry Pomeroy Castle (Schedule Document). SDV341272.

A Preservation Order and a Guardianship Order have been placed on Berry Pomeroy Castle and are in force from 13 September 1977. Other details: Plan enclosed upon which is indicated in the red the position of the land.

Griffiths, D. + King, A., 1980, Excavations at Berry Pomeroy Castle, Totnes, Devon (Report - Interim). SDV341270.

An area immediately outside the great hall was excavated, and the remains of a stone colonnade running parallel to the hall were uncovered. The colonnade appears to be neo-classical and to have been extensively robbed before its collapse. The excavators suggest a late 16th century date for the construction and a life of about 100 years before destruction.

National Monuments Record, 1980, SF 1748, 112 (Aerial Photograph). SDV341304.

Unknown, 1980, Untitled Source (Ground Photograph). SDV341299.

Slides in Historic Environment Record collection.

Band, N., 1981, Time - a castle's last enemy. (Article in Serial). SDV341286.

Department of Environment, 1985, Berry Pomeroy, 1 (List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest). SDV341264.

Ruins of medieval castle with ruins of large Elizabethan house within the walls. Situated on a wooded hill with a steep bluff to the north and a dried moat to the south. Circa 1300 gatehouse, remains of the curtain walls and St. Margaret's Tower on the east corner. The Seymour house and offices within the walls to the east were built circa 1575 to 1593. Coursed stone with freestone dressings. Curtain walls connected to the St Margaret's Tower to east which projects with a semi-circular outer wall. The group of tall, now freestanding piers on the north side are probably the remains of the north wing of the Seymour house. Built around a small court, it has a symmetrical 3-storey 5-bay front with a central doorway and stone mulliion 4-light windows with hoodmoulds. To the west of the enclosure are the remains of the kitchen, which is all that survives of the north range.

Griffith, F. M., 1985, DAP/FF, 7, 8 (Aerial Photograph). SDV341296.

Richardson, D. F. L., 1986, Berry Pomeroy Castle (Ground Photograph). SDV341265.

Photographs taken of continuing Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission repair work. Other details: 626/26-30.

Griffith, F. M., 1986, DAP/PV, 10, 11 (Aerial Photograph). SDV341292.

Gallant, L., 1986, Deer Parks and Paddocks of England (Un-published). SDV656.

Documentary references to Berry Pomeroy Castle and Deer Park, plus field notes.

Higham, R. A., 1988, Devon Castles: An Annotated List, 145 (Article in Serial). SDV341278.

Walled enclosure, gatehouse, towers, domestic ranges, 15th century. Also large 16th century house. Other details: No 34.

Allen, J. P. + Pope, P., 1990, A new class of south-west England pottery in North America, 51-9 (Article in Serial). SDV341267.

The excavated post-medieval pottery consisted predominatly of Totnes-type ware. Although exported to Newfoundland it was not widely circulated elsewhere in Devon.

Griffith, F. M., 1991, DAP/UE, 15 (Aerial Photograph). SDV339038.

Pounds, N. J. G., 1991, The Chapel in the Castle, 18 (Article in Serial). SDV341277.

The gatehouse also contained a chapel.

English Heritage, 1993, Ancient Monuments Laboratory Reports 14: January to June 1993, 19/33 (Report - Scientific). SDV356336.

English Heritage, 1993, Berry Pomeroy Castle (Schedule Document). SDV341273.

The scheduled area has been revised to that shown outlined in black and highlighted in red on the enclosed map extract. Records show that the monument was included in the Schedule on 13th January 1915. Other details: Map.

Hillam, J. + Groves, C., 1993, Tree ring dates from Sheffield University, 46-7 (Article in Serial). SDV341269.

A tree ring date was obtained from a lintel timber from the kitchen of the castle giving a felling date of 1591-1601.

Brown, S., 1996, Berry Pomeroy Castle East Terrace, 1996 (Report - Watching Brief). SDV341275.

A watching brief took place between Juy and November 1996, during landscaping carried out in the area of east terrace. This revealed a series of deposits representing make-up/infill dumps which were tipped onto the steep, sloping area immediately east of the castle during construction of the east terrace and its revetment wall. The building of the terrace and the 2 stone walls was begun circa 1590-1610, progressing to about halfway along the intended terrace area from the north west end, before being abandoned sometime in the period circa 1610-20.

Brown, S., 1996, Berry Pomeroy Castle, 1-201 (Article in Serial). SDV341309.

Archaeological investigations carried out at the castle within the period 1980-1996 have shed new light on its history and development. This report draws upon their records and interpretations, although in a number of instances, their site interpretations and dating have been re-assessed in the light of later discoveries.

Higham, R. A. + Freeman, J. P., 1996, Devon Castles (Draft Text), 5, 7, 8, 10, 12, 14, Gazetteer (Monograph). SDV354350.

In the 15th century the Pomeroy family replaced their manor house at Berry with a defended castle which is described in 1496 as having amongst its buildings, various chambers, a kitchen and a gate - still a fundamental feature of castles at this date. Today the castle is a spectacular ruin comprising 15th century defences enclosing a Tudor mansion. There is a fine, two storey gatehouse with an imcomplete curtain wall and a mural tower at the north-east end. In the chamber above the gate passage is a late 15th century fresco. The 16th century Tudor mansion replaced and obscured the medieval domestic buildings, apart from some of the fabric forming the south-eastern range. It was begun by Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset but left incomplete at the time of his execution in 1552. Nevertheless the lavish rebuilding of the castle in the 16th century is considered to be of national importance.

English Heritage, 1997, Ancient Monuments Laboratory Reports 22: January to June 1997 (Report - non-specific). SDV341268.

Wall painting condition audit, Berry Pomeroy Castle. Includes a wall painting record, general audit information, documentation of original materials and execution of the painting. Also deterioration and damage, including previously used materials and treatment, as well as proposals for treatment and monitoring strategies. Other details: 58/97.

Brown, S. + Matthews, A., 1998, Berry Pomeroy Gatehouse Roof: Archaological Recording (Report - non-specific). SDV341271.

Archaeological recording was undertaken regarding the standing structure of the late 15th century gatehouse, prior to a conservation programme comprising repairs to the roof and the laying of associated rainwater drains. At the same time trench excavations were opened across the line of the medieval defensive ditch to the west. The roof is a modern reconstruction erected in 1982. In 1981 the gatehouse was an ivyclad, roofless ruin. Clearance of the ivy revealed a well preserved wall painting of considerable artistic merit and historical importance, and it was decided that the building should be roofed in order to protect and preserve the painting. An initial survey was conducted to indicate which parts of the relevant wall tops were of medieval date and which parts were modern, and newly observed features and details added to the previous survey of 1981. The trench excavations revealed an earth bank, and an infilled ditch which produced 6 fragments of late medieval/early post medieval ridge tile and 2 pottery sherds of 16th and 17th century date.

Brown, S., 1998, Berry Pomeroy: Archaeological Survey for Presentation, 8, 36-38 (Report - Survey). SDV341290.

The castle was built in the late 15th century when the Pomeroy family built a fortified house within their deer park and manor of Berry Pomeroy. The castle had little, if any, military strategic significance, and was constructed primarily to provide a grand family seat of traditional castle status. It was their second residence in the manor, indicating that its role encompassed that of a hunting lodge. It was originally protected by a ditch or moat which has largely been infilled, but a small section of it is still recognizable next to St. Margaret's Tower. Other details: Plates 39 + 40.

Griffith, F. M., 2002, Untitled Source (Personal Comment). SDV341276.

Excavations in the area of the castle were carried out in the late 1980's by S. W. Brown and EMAFU for English Heritage.

Brown, S., 2006, New Admissions Building at Berry Pomeroy Castle, Devon, 1 (Report - Watching Brief). SDV341305.

Part of an outer bank associated with the late 15th century castle's defensive ditch was exposed, as well as remains from a retaining wall which once flanked the carriage drive leading to the castle. An extensive dump of redeposited natural slate stone and clay, which had been spread across much of the area, is interpreted as part of the levelling of the defences in the 16th or 17th century, and the creation of a courtyard outside the gatehouse. Overlying the dump were deposits containing numerous fragments of broken ashlar and other building stone which had been robbed from the castle after its abandonment circa 1700. The stone appears to have been re-dressed outside the castle gatehouse before being carried away for re-use elsewhere. Other details: Plans and sections.

Brown, S., 2008, Berry Pomeroy Castle: Archaeological Excavation and Recording During Condition Survey Work, 1 (Report - Watching Brief). SDV347801.

Archaeological excavations associated with condition survey work in 2007 revealed parts of the foundations of the north range, dating from circa 1600, and demolition deposits dating from after the abandonment of the castle circa 1700. Limited work on the standing structure uncovered no hitherto unseen archaeological features. See report for full details. Other details: Figures 1-4, photographs.

Higham, R. A., 2009, Devon Castle Studies. A Personal Reflection. Devon Archaeological Society Presidential Lecture 2009, 12 (Article in Serial). SDV344775.

The structure developed from a late medieval castle to a spectacular post medieval mansion displaying the latest trends in architecture and planning. Other details: Figure 11.

Historic England, 2021, Berry Pomeroy Castle: A defended residence and Tudor mansion, Berry Pomeroy, Devon (Correspondence). SDV364490.

Scheduled monument consent granted, subject to conditions, for the installation of CCTV cameras at a discrete location agreed with Historic England together with the addition of a discrete anti-climb grille to the gatehouse, to seek to counter repeated instances of trespass and vandalism.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV16199Monograph: Prince, J.. 1810. Worthies of Devon. Worthies of Devon. Unknown. 35.
SDV339038Aerial Photograph: Griffith, F. M.. 1991. DAP/UE. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 15.
SDV341263Schedule Document: Ministry of Works. 1922. Berry Pomeroy Castle. The Schedule of Monuments. Foolscap.
SDV341264List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest: Department of Environment. 1985. Berry Pomeroy. Historic Houses Register. A4 Comb Bound. 1.
SDV341265Ground Photograph: Richardson, D. F. L.. 1986. Berry Pomeroy Castle. Photograph (Paper).
SDV341267Article in Serial: Allen, J. P. + Pope, P.. 1990. A new class of south-west England pottery in North America. Post-Medieval Archaeology. 24. Unknown. 51-9.
SDV341268Report - non-specific: English Heritage. 1997. Ancient Monuments Laboratory Reports 22: January to June 1997. Ancient Monuments Laboratory Report. 22. A4 Stapled + Digital.
SDV341269Article in Serial: Hillam, J. + Groves, C.. 1993. Tree ring dates from Sheffield University. Vernacular Architecture. 24. Unknown. 46-7.
SDV341270Report - Interim: Griffiths, D. + King, A.. 1980. Excavations at Berry Pomeroy Castle, Totnes, Devon. Unknown. A4 Stapled.
SDV341271Report - non-specific: Brown, S. + Matthews, A.. 1998. Berry Pomeroy Gatehouse Roof: Archaological Recording. Stewart Brown Associates Report. A4 Stapled + Digital.
SDV341272Schedule Document: Department of Environment. 1977. Berry Pomeroy Castle. The Schedule of Monuments. Letter.
SDV341273Schedule Document: English Heritage. 1993. Berry Pomeroy Castle. The Schedule of Monuments. A4 Stapled.
SDV341275Report - Watching Brief: Brown, S.. 1996. Berry Pomeroy Castle East Terrace, 1996. Stewart Brown Associates Report. A4 Stapled + Digital.
SDV341276Personal Comment: Griffith, F. M.. 2002. Unknown.
SDV341277Article in Serial: Pounds, N. J. G.. 1991. The Chapel in the Castle. Fortress. 8. Unknown. 18.
SDV341278Article in Serial: Higham, R. A.. 1988. Devon Castles: An Annotated List. Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society. 46. Paperback Volume. 145.
SDV341283Article in Serial: Reichel, O. J.. 1896. The Devonshire 'Domesday' III. Berry Pomeroy and Stockleigh Pomeroy. A contribution to the ecomomic history of the cultivating classes in Domesday.. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 28. Unknown. 362-390.
SDV341284Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1953 - 1980. SX86SW29. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index.
SDV341286Article in Serial: Band, N.. 1981. Time - a castle's last enemy.. Western Morning News. Newspaper/Magazine Cuttin.
SDV341287Monograph: Murray, J. 1859. A Handbook for Travellers in Devon and Cornwall. Unknown. 55.
SDV341288Article in Serial: Unknown. 1882. Berry Pomeroy Castle. Western Antiquary. 2. Unknown. 134.
SDV341289Monograph: Parker, J. H.. 1859. Domestic Architecture of the Middle Ages. 2. Unknown. 15.
SDV341290Report - Survey: Brown, S.. 1998. Berry Pomeroy: Archaeological Survey for Presentation. Stewart Brown Associates Report. A4 Stapled + Digital. 8, 36-38.
SDV341292Aerial Photograph: Griffith, F. M.. 1986. DAP/PV. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 10, 11.
SDV341294Aerial Photograph: Cambridge University Collection. 1952. DAP/HR. Cambridge University Collection of Aerial Photographs. Photograph (Paper). 60.
SDV341296Aerial Photograph: Griffith, F. M.. 1985. DAP/FF. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 7, 8.
SDV341298Aerial Photograph: Cambridge University Collection. 1950. DAP/FL. Cambridge University Collection of Aerial Photographs. Photograph (Paper). 46-49.
SDV341299Ground Photograph: Unknown. 1980. Slide.
SDV341302Monograph: Mortimer, T. C. + Mortimer, A. E.. 1942. Berry Pomeroy Castle. Unknown.
SDV341304Aerial Photograph: National Monuments Record. 1980. SF 1748. National Monuments Record Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 112.
SDV341305Report - Watching Brief: Brown, S.. 2006. New Admissions Building at Berry Pomeroy Castle, Devon. Stewart Brown Associates Report. A4 Stapled + Digital. 1.
SDV341309Article in Serial: Brown, S.. 1996. Berry Pomeroy Castle. Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society. 54. Paperback Volume. 1-201.
SDV344775Article in Serial: Higham, R. A.. 2009. Devon Castle Studies. A Personal Reflection. Devon Archaeological Society Presidential Lecture 2009. Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society. 67. Paperback Volume. 12.
SDV347801Report - Watching Brief: Brown, S.. 2008. Berry Pomeroy Castle: Archaeological Excavation and Recording During Condition Survey Work. Stewart Brown Associates Report. A4 Stapled + Digital. 1.
SDV354350Monograph: Higham, R. A. + Freeman, J. P.. 1996. Devon Castles (Draft Text). Devon Castles. A4 Unbound + Digital. 5, 7, 8, 10, 12, 14, Gazetteer.
SDV356336Report - Scientific: English Heritage. 1993. Ancient Monuments Laboratory Reports 14: January to June 1993. English Heritage. 14. A4 Stapled + Digital. 19/33.
SDV356410Correspondence: English Heritage. 05/03/2014. Berry Pomeroy Castle. Scheduled Monument Consent Granted. Digital.
SDV364490Correspondence: Historic England. 2021. Berry Pomeroy Castle: A defended residence and Tudor mansion, Berry Pomeroy, Devon. Schedule Monument Consent Letter. Digital.
SDV656Un-published: Gallant, L.. 1986. Deer Parks and Paddocks of England. Deer Parks and Paddocks of England. Manuscript.

Associated Monuments

MDV9053Related to: Berry Pomeroy Wishing Tree (Monument)
MDV19672Related to: Castle Mill, Berry Pomeroy (Building)
MDV9052Related to: Deer Park at Berry Pomeroy Castle (Monument)
MDV14961Related to: Possible site of dovecote, Berry Pomeroy (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV4411 - Berry Pomeroy Castle Archaeological Watching Brief
  • EDV5270 - Archaeological Monitoring and Recording at Berry Pomeroy Castle

Date Last Edited:Sep 10 2021 2:48PM