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Hemyock Castle

Hemyock Castle

Discover the Mysteries of Hemyock Castle in Devon

Rising from thick woodlands near the Somerset border, the striking ruins of Hemyock Castle present an impressive sight. Constructed in the late 11th century, these atmospheric remains allow you to discover 700 years of Devon’s medieval history hidden amongst scenic walking trails and peaceful picnic spots beside the river Culm.

Climb crumbling stairwells, discover charming secrets like the dungeon and dovecote, admire exquisite stonemason details and imagine the changing lives of those within Hemyock’s original imposing walls. Here’s your guide to exploring this enchanting relic shrouded in mystery.

Hemyock Castle looking out

Getting There

Hemyock Castle’s secluded remains sit just outside the village of Hemyock, around 6 miles north of Cullompton. Leave the M5 at Junction 28 towards Wellington and follow minor country lanes before looking for castle signs in the village.

By Car

It takes just 15 minutes to drive to Hemyock Castle from the nearest M5 junction at Wellington. Turn off the motorway towards Hemyock village and follow the narrow lanes until signs point to a small parking area.

On Foot

While remote, you can access Hemyock Castle via footpaths from Wellington or Cullompton for more ambitious hikers. The footpath from the village centre takes around 15-20 minutes.

Opening Times and Entry

As an unstaffed ancient monument, Hemyock Castle is only accessible on Bank Holiday Mondays, between 2pm and 5pm. There are no entry fees or tickets required to walk around and inside the ruins. However, there are also no facilities onsite.

Come fully prepared for uneven ground, mud and typical English weather with sturdy footwear, waterproofs, food and water as required. Take care supervising children near steep drops.

opening times

History and Overview

Hemyock Castle is believed to have been constructed around 1080 by the Norman baron Ralph de Pomeroy to fortify his estate lands. The imposing motte and bailey design would have included defensive walls, towers and lodgings surrounded by a moat.

It had declined by the late 14th century but many original Norman features remain remarkably intact within the ruins including spiral stairwells and crumbling arches. It’s now protected as an English Heritage recorded monument.

gates at hemyock castle

Explore the Ruins

Today it’s possible to clamber inside and around Hemyock Castle’s atmospheric ruins following winding pathways and crumbling staircases. Key features to spot include:

  • The impressive motte mound the inner buildings would have crowned, now 12 metres high.
  • Remains of an inner courtyard and small windows indicating domestic quarters and great hall.
  • Intact Norman stairwell descending dramatically into the bowels of the castle keep.
  • Arrow loops built into 2 metre thick walls for defensive archers.
  • A winding covered passageway leading into the castle ruins.

Use imagination to envisage fortified life within these original thick Norman walls.

hemyock castle

Surrounding Grounds

The castle grounds extending down to the River Culm also offer relics and pleasant walking:

  • Foundations of two outer wards that would have housed stables, kitchens and service buildings.
  • Traces of moats and fishponds used to provide food.
  • A hidden 13th century dovecote nestled in the woods where pigeons were kept.
  • Old trackways and winding trails through picturesque woodlands.
  • Idyllic picnic spots beside the babbling river.

With scenic trails to roam, it’s easy to make a peaceful day appreciating Hemyock’s history.

flags

Secrets and Legends

Part of Hemyock Castle’s intrigue lies in the secrets and legends that have become associated with this atmospheric ruin:

  • A hidden tunnel is said to connect it to the church 2 miles away for escape.
  • Some believe treasure may be buried somewhere deep below the castle ruins.
  • Ghostly sightings of knights and ladies in medieval dress are reported by some visitors.

Let the history and mystery spark kids’ imaginations as they explore the ruins or enjoy a scenic picnic by the river.

With scenic walks, impressive architecture and family intrigue, the magical ruins of Hemyock Castle provide a glimpse into the Norman heritage of Devon’s medieval past.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are dogs allowed at Hemyock Castle? – Yes, well behaved dogs on leads are welcome.

Is Hemyock Castle National Trust or English Heritage? – Neither, it is a privately owned ancient monument site.

Other nearby attractions

  • Powderham Castle – Magnificent 600-year-old castle near Exeter, still owned by the Earl of Devon. Guided tours showcase the family’s opulent living.
  • Exeter Cathedral – Impressive medieval Gothic cathedral boasting England’s longest uninterrupted ceiling. Guided tours share the intricate architectural details.
  • Castle Drogo – Unique 20th century castle near Drewsteignton designed by Edwin Lutyens. Offers tours of the impressive granite interiors and scenic gardens.
  • Killerton House – Elegant 18th century National Trust property near Exeter with expansive grounds, adventure playground and costumed guides.
  • Coldharbour Mill – Fascinating working woollen museum showcasing the textile industry’s heritage through operating Victorian machinery.
  • Devon Railway Centre – Nostalgic heritage steam railway at Tiverton offering scenic rides along the Grand Western Canal. Great for train enthusiasts.
  • Finch Foundry – Historic 19th century water-powered forge open to visitors to see traditional iron work skills and techniques.
  • Exmoor Owl & Hawk Centre – Unique opportunity to fly hawks and owls under instruction for an unforgettable hands-on experience with birds of prey.
  • Tarr Steps – Ancient clapper bridge across the River Barle dating back over 1000 years. Idyllic riverside walking in Exmoor National Park.

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