From the medieval to the magical, and from the royal residence to the last castle built in England, Devon has a huge range of historic residence, all with oodles of history. Here are the very best castles in Devon, England (and you can visit most of them for yourself!):
Tiverton Castle, 25A Park Hill, Tiverton EX16 6RP
Imposing and mighty, Tiverton Castle sits in the middle of a town of the same name. Once a medieval castle, Tiverton was transformed into a country house in the 17th-Century, following the English Civil War. The site has been inhabited since at least Norman Times, where it was home to a Motte and Bailey Castle.
Today, you’ll find a grand mansion and various medieval remains on site. Tiverton Castle can now be visited during various times of the year. You’ll find more details and information about visiting on their website.
Okehampton Castle, Castle Ln, Okehampton EX20 1JA
Lying on the outskirts of the ancient town of Okehampton, you’ll find Okehampton Castle. One thousand years of history are hidden within these walls, documenting the history of the area and beyond. Once the largest castle in Devon, the site started out as a Motte and Bailey Norman castle, before being transformed into a country home during medieval times.
Today, the site is owned and managed by English Heritage. And for a fee, you can visit the ghostly ruins for yourself. More details about visiting (as well as opening times) can be found on the English Heritage website.
Lydford Castle, Lydford, West Devon EX20 4BH
Located along a ley line and formerly used as a prison, the crumbling remains of Lydford Castle lie in the leafy village of Lydford. Nearby, you’ll find the beautiful Lydford Gorge, evidence of Viking invasion in the area, and the impossibly beautiful church of St Michael de la Rupe on Brentor (an extinct volcano). The Castle is open during reasonable daylight hours and is free to visit.
Totnes Castle, Castle St, Totnes TQ9 5NU
The quirky town of Totnes has long drawn visitors from far and wide thanks to its abundance of independent boutiques and oodles of history. And the crowning glory of the town sits in pride of place at the top of its highest point.
Totnes Castle is a great example of a surviving Motte and Bailey Castle. Today, you can visit the Castle at various times of the day and for a fee. Opening times and prices can be found on the English Heritage Website here. A trip here can easily be combined with a stroll around the quirky town.
Compton Castle, Gropers Ln, Compton TQ3 1TA
Just outside of the quaint Devonian village of Compton, you’ll find one of the very best castles in Devon, Compton Castle. This fortified manor house comes complete with a portcullis, medieval kitchens, a great hall and even more ancient features.
Today, the castle is owned and managed by the National Trust. Although closed in the winter months (to aid in the restoration of the castle), Compton Castle can be visited throughout the rest of the year for a fee. Details for visiting can be found on the National Trust’s website here.
Berry Pomeroy, Berry Pomeroy, Totnes TQ9 6LJ
Allegedly the most haunted castle in the UK, the ghostly remains of Berry Pomeroy Castle are situated near the quirky town of Totnes. The ruins of Berry Pomeroy were once a bustling Tudor Mansion, and prior to that, a castle dating back to the Middle Ages.
Head here to see the remains of a dungeon, keep, wander within the walls of a haunted mansion and enjoy the beauty of the leafy forest surrounding the castle. Today, the castle is owned and managed by English Heritage. Further details on opening times and prices to visit can be found on the English Heritage website.
Berry Pomeroy Castle, etching, 1816, Via the 1928 Harris Brisbane Dick Fund in the Met Museum of Art
Dartmouth Castle, Castle Rd, Dartmouth TQ6 0JN
On the very edges of the water, a little outside of Dartmouth proper, you’ll find the ghostly ruins of Dartmouth Castle. Dating back to a time when the threat from the water to the town of Dartmouth (and Kingswear on the other side of the Estuary) was a real issue, parts of the castle date all the way back to the 1380s. Today, the fortified Dartmouth castle is incredibly well preserved and a trip here can easily be combined with a visit to the nearby pretty town of Dartmouth.
Castle Drogo, Drewsteignton, Devon, England
The last castle to be built in England, Castle Drogo was constructed in the early 20th-century by a wealthy businessman, Julius Drewe. Founder of the Home & Colonial stores, Drewe was a nouveau riche who was able to retire at the early age of thirty-three thanks to his great wealth.
As a newcomer to wealth, Drewe soon became obsessed with proving his ancestry and links to nobility. When he discovered that a certain ‘Drogo de Teign’ had arrived in the Dartmoor area during the Norman Conquest (Drogo is the Latinised form of ‘Drew’- Julius’ surname), he built his castle to look as if it had stood for centuries, and perhaps even dated back to the time of Drogo de Teign.
Today, you can visit the Castle (although it is closed for restoration and preservation purposes during the winter months) for a fee. At the Castle, you’ll find a lovely rose garden, views onto the wild moorland of Dartmoor, and of course, the last castle built in England. Details on Castle Drogo can be found on the National Trust website here.
Tapestry detail at Castle Drogo. During renovations, it was discovered that this dusty tapestry (which had previously hung neglected in the entrance corridor for years) was actually made in the prestigious Gobelin Factory in Paris, and may have come directly from Versailles.
Powderham Castle, Church Rd, Kenton, Exeter EX6 8JQ
Of all the best castles in Devon, a visit to Powderham is the one that’s most suited to family visits. Located just outside Exeter, you’ll find the fortified mansion of Powderham. The castle is privately owned but can be visited by the public (for a fee) from April- October. Further details on visiting the castle can be found on Powderham Castle’s website here.
Halon Belvedere (Lawrence Castle), Higher Ashton, Exeter EX6 7QY
More like a folly than fortified ruin, Haldon Belvedere sits at the very top of the highest hill in its area in central Devon. Also known as Lawrence Castle, this grade II* listed building was constructed by Sir George Chudleigh in the late 18th Century. Although much of the castle was demolished during the 1940s, today the remains of the once grand castle are used as a beautiful venue for private functions and weddings.