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Berry Pomeroy Castle: a defended residence and Tudor mansion

A Scheduled Monument in Berry Pomeroy, Devon

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Latitude: 50.449 / 50°26'56"N

Longitude: -3.6364 / 3°38'11"W

OS Eastings: 283912.877854

OS Northings: 62296.040453

OS Grid: SX839622

Mapcode National: GBR QQ.51G2

Mapcode Global: FRA 378V.WN8

Entry Name: Berry Pomeroy Castle: a defended residence and Tudor mansion

Scheduled Date: 13 January 1915

Last Amended: 10 February 1993

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017855

English Heritage Legacy ID: 21706

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Berry Pomeroy

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Church of England Parish: Berry Pomeroy St Mary

Church of England Diocese: Exeter


Berry Pomeroy Castle which is a Listed Building Grade I, is located about 1km
north-east of the village of Berry Pomeroy and 3km east of Totnes. It is
situated on a north-facing slope overlooking a deep, narrow, limestone gorge
through which the Gatcombe Brook flows from east to west.
The earliest remains visible today date from the late 15th century, when a
defended residence with dry moat was built within a deerpark belonging to the
Pomeroy family. The 15th century domestic buildings were later replaced by a
tall, compact Tudor mansion. A scheme to enlarge the mansion and add terraces
was started in the late 16th century, but never completed.
The monument includes the defences, the mansion, and in a separate constraint
area, a well-preserved section of the terraced roadway which led to the
mansion from a turning off the road between Totnes and Torquay.
The original 15th century defences survive along the south-east side of the
site and include a gatehouse, corner tower ('St Margaret's Tower'), and
connecting curtain wall. The curtain wall continues for short distances along
both the south-west and north-east sides. In addition, there are remnants of
another corner tower at the north-east angle, where a stone buttress
containing a guardroom extends down the steep valley slope on this side. The
guardroom protects a doorway and flight of steps leading from the mansion to
the rock face, where it is thought that there was a spring providing fresh
water. The corner towers and gatehouse all have gun-ports at basement level.
The gun-ports were originally intervisible, and provided a continuous line of
fire along a defensive dry moat. Part of the line of the moat is still visible
alongside St Margaret's Tower, and another section has been located by
excavation outside the gatehouse.
The remains of the Tudor mansion stand four storeys high to roof level. The
house was built inside the 15th century defences on a courtyard plan and
comprised two wings extending back from a hall range to the curtain wall. Soon
after, the fourth side of the courtyard was infilled with an additional range.
Around the year 1600, a scheme to greatly enlarge the mansion was begun but
never finished. A magnificent state range was built along the north-west side
of the site, extending beyond the limits of the old defences. This new range
contained a hall fronted by a loggia built in the Renaissance style, a
kitchen, and a long gallery on the top floor, as well as family and guest
apartments. Terraces were begun at both ends of this range and another was
planned on its north-west side, overlooking ponds in the valley below, but
these were abandoned before completion. Another range of service buildings was
planned to extend over the infilled moat along the west of the site, but this
was never undertaken.
A level area terraced into the lower hillslope to the south-east of the
mansion may represent part of a garden, or possibly the site of one of the
ancillary buildings which must have existed, but which are not represented
amongst the ruins within the castle walls.
The earliest documentary reference to a castle at Berry Pomeroy occurs in
1496. There is no firm evidence to indicate occupation on the present site
much before this date. In 1547, the castle was sold by Sir Thomas Pomeroy to
Edward Seymour, first Duke of Somerset (Protector Somerset). We cannot be sure
that the Protector ever visited the site. By contrast, his son Edward, known
as Lord Seymour, made Berry Pomeroy his home. It seems likely that it was this
Edward who built the courtyard mansion, and his son, Sir Edward Seymour 1st
baronet, who started the grand scheme of enlargement.
The site was abandoned sometime between 1688 and 1701. The building was then
stripped of valuable building materials. The remains enjoyed the reputation of
a (haunted) romantic ruin, and have been much visited over the past three
centuries. The stonework has been consolidated at various times within this
period by the Duke of Somerset's estate workers. English Heritage are
currently undertaking repairs.
Excluded from the scheduling is the kiosk and the tea room as well as the
surface of the drive south-east of the castle, although the land beneath these
features is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Berry Pomeroy Castle was a defended residence into which was built a Tudor
The first house was built in the late 15th century as a residence for the
Pomeroys. Such houses were often the homes of local landowners, and generally
comprised a hall, private chambers, service rooms, kitchens and accommodation
for retainers arranged around a single or double courtyard. Usually such
houses were built of stone and served as both homes and venues in which to
entertain. The defended residence at Berry Pomeroy is unusual not only as a
rare survival of this class of monument, but as a defended example and because
it exhibits a number of architectural features which are good examples of the
military technology of the time.
Within the earlier defended residence, a Tudor mansion was later constructed
and this forms much of what remains visible today. The mansion was constructed
in two stages. The earlier stage, which involved the demolition of much of the
interior of the 15th century residence, was itself remodelled and enlarged as
part of the later prodigy house which was never completed. The earlier stage
is of interest because it appears to have been a pioneering example of the
high compact unadorned houses that became a feature of later Elizabethan and
Jacobean architecture.
Berry Pomeroy, in its present form, is a particularly impressive ruin in its
Tudor manifestation, and is associated with a notable county family descended
from the Great Protector Somerset. Recent excavations have added to our
understanding of the site.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Ellis, S M, Ghost Stories and Legends of Berry Pomeroy Castle
Mortimer, TC, Berry Pomeroy Castle, (1942)
Powley, E B, Berry Pomeroy Castle: Illustrated Official Guide, (1966)
During site visit by P P Jeffery, Brown, SR, Berry Pomeroy Castle, (1992)
Griffiths, D, Berry Pomeroy Castle, Interim Report on the 1980 Excavation, 1980,
SX86SW-010, SMR Officer, Berry Pomeroy Castle, (1991)
Title: SX86SW 1:10,000 Map sheet
Source Date:

Source: Historic England

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