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Totnes Castle

totnes castle with flag

Totnes Castle: Discover 900 Years of History

Standing high above the River Dart in Totnes, the impressive stone keep of Totnes Castle is the perfect place for families to uncover 900 years of fascinating history. Built soon after the Norman Conquest, the castle has guarded Totnes through the ages and has tales to tell from the Middle Ages to Civil War sieges.

With interactive displays, immersive audio tours and castle walls to scramble over, Totnes Castle makes history come alive in vivid colour for children and parents alike. Here’s all you need to know for an insightful visit.

totnes castle

Getting There

Totnes Castle occupies a central spot in the town of Totnes itself. Well signposted in the town centre, it’s around a 5-10 minute walk from town car parks.

Totnes has excellent transport links, with mainline train connections and buses from cities such as Exeter and Torquay. The castle is also just off National Cycle Route 2.

Opening Times

Totnes Castle is managed by English Heritage and is open:

  • April – September: 10am – 6pm daily
  • October – March: 10am – 4pm weekends only

Last admission is 30 minutes before closing time.

Ticket Prices

Entry prices are:

Book online for 10% discounted rates. Gift aid tickets are also available.

totnes

Inside the Castle

Pop on an audio guide and let the castle reveal its history as you explore the main attractions:

  • Climb up the original stone Norman staircases inside the towering keep.
  • Imagine life inside the great hall and chambers as an interactive image is projected inside the empty window frames.
  • See the groove in the walls for the portcullis and slots for floorboards.
  • Learn about the 18th century occurrences of Totnes like its prospering guilds and brutal public executions.
  • Stand where Civil War cannonballs lodged into walls as Cromwell’s army besieged the castle.
  • Take in the sweeping views over Tudor houses to the river valley below from the castle walls.
  • Discover the dark history of the medieval castle prison.
  • Challenge kids to dress up as Norman soldiers or medieval ladies in the castles play area.
view from totnes castle

History of Totnes Castle

Built shortly after the Norman Conquest in 1068, it stands as one of the best-preserved examples of a motte-and-bailey castle in the country. Commissioned by Juhel de Totnes, a follower of William the Conqueror, the castle initially consisted of a wooden tower on a large earthen mound. Over the centuries, it underwent significant transformations, with the wooden structures gradually replaced by stone during the 14th century.

Throughout its history, Totnes Castle played a strategic role in regional conflicts and the civil wars of the 17th century. Its location overlooking the River Dart provided a vantage point for monitoring and controlling river traffic. The castle’s keep, a cylindrical tower, stands as a testament to medieval military architecture and offers panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.

Over time, Totnes Castle evolved from a military stronghold to a symbolic structure, witnessing changes in ownership and purpose. Today, managed by English Heritage, it serves as a popular historical attraction, inviting visitors to explore its battlements, climb the tower, and immerse themselves in the layers of history that have shaped this iconic landmark.

guidebook totnes castle 2

This English Heritage guide is 20 pages and gives masses of information about Totnes Castle.

Buy here

Castle Grounds

The grassy castle grounds are perfect for letting kids expend energy after learning about history inside:

  • Roll down the grassy motte or play historic ball games
  • Follow the BUTTERFLY Dance Trail weaving around the grounds
  • See if children can use clues to find the Norman treasure hidden around the castle
  • Enjoy your picnic sitting on the lawn soaking up the atmosphere

With plenty of hands-on history, Totnes Castle makes the perfect base for a family day out discovering the delights of Totnes and the vibrant South Devon countryside.

totnes catle

Frequently Asked Questions

Are dogs allowed at Totnes Castle?– Yes dogs are welcome if kepy under control on a lead

How long does it take to see around Totnes Castle? – There is no need to rush your visit as it is such a pleasant place, to be, but about 1-2 hours will be enough for most people to get a flavour

Is it wheelchair accessible? – Some of the castle walls are not accessible for wheelchairs and there are some steep paths in the grounds too. Hoever, there are plenty of areas in the castle which are accessible for both wheelchairs and prams.

Nearby Attractions

There are many other great places to visit when you have seen Totnes Castle, including:

  • Berry Pomeroy Castle – Atmospheric 15th century castle ruins surrounded by woodlands. Tales of ghostly apparitions add to the intrigue.
  • Compton Castle – Stunning medieval castle with impressive defensive walls and a rich history. Managed by the National Trust.
  • Dartmouth Castle – Striking coastal fortification with medieval roots offering wonderful views over the harbour. Walk the historic ramparts.
  • Sharpham Vinehttps://sandridgebarton.com/yard – Award-winning vineyard producing fine English wine. Take a tour and enjoy wine tastings with scenic views over the vineyard.
  • Becky Falls – Enchanting ancient woodland site near Bovey Tracey with a cascading waterfall, tranquil lakes and lovely trails.
  • Canonteign Falls – England’s highest waterfall set within a lush wooded gorge. Viewing platforms provide scenic vantage points.
  • South Devon Railway – Heritage steam railway with scenic journeys along the Dart Valley between Totnes and Buckfastleigh.
  • Occombe Farm – Traditional farm where visitors can feed and interact with chickens, goats, pigs and more. Nature trails through the woods.

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