The tall grey ruins of Berry Pomeroy Castle are located just off the Totnes to Paignton Road, and just three miles from the even older pile of Totnes Castle. Berry Pomeroy is a castle that you will enjoy visiting even if you're not particularly “into” castles. You can enjoy it from a historic perspective, as a haunted curiosity, a grand example of period architecture or as an ancestral home. It doesn't hurt that it is in one of the most scenic spots in south Devon, overlooking the Dart Valley.
Situated in a steep wooded valley, it has a fascinating history unlike any other castle that I know of. Perhaps that's why it has garnered a reputation as being the most haunted castle in the county!
The history of Berry Pomeroy Castle
The original estate of “Berry Manor” has been in the hands of the Pomeroy family since the 12th century. It was thought that the castle also dated back to Norman times but it has recently been established that the family lived in an unfortified manor house near the village church until 1496.
The oldest part of the existing castle was built in the 15th century as a modest Elizabethan mansion with fortifications, possibly due to the lawlessness of Devon at that time.
The Pomeroys continued to maintain and enjoy the mediaeval castle until it was sold in the early 16th century to Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset who became the powerful Lord Protector of his nephew, Edward VI. He was the brother of the ill-fated third wife of Henry VIII, Jane Seymour. He planned to extend and improve the existing fortifications and create a grand Elizabethan mansion of epic proportions but was executed in 1552.
The Seymour family began the extensions to the original castle in 1560 and their intended courtyard house was designed to be the most spectacular house in Devon, on par with the grand houses of Longleat and Audley End. However, the project was eventually halted due to lack of funds.
Berry Pomeroy Castle was owned by the brother of Queen Jane Seymour
The property is still owned by the Duke of Somerset a descendant of the Seymour family, but it is managed by English Heritage. It is still possible to see the impressive state rooms and splendid Renaissance architecture in what is now known as the Seymour wing of the castle.
A walk around the substantial castle remains will reveal many different styles of architecture from various periods as fashions came and went. You can also see many types of stone and building materials which are the evidence of many extensions and changes dating back to the Pomeroy family era.
Take a look at the wall in the eastern tower of the Gatehouse and see the fresco that was painted on the wall over 500 years ago. In front of the building is a long loggia with five bays which connected the tower staircases. Although only partially built, the castle still shows a fascinating mix of mediaeval castle and impressive mansion on a grand scale ‐ if only it had been completed!
The project was never finished and the family eventually abandoned their dreams and moved out in 1700. At that point, it seems, the ghosts and ghouls moved in.
Take a ghostly audio tour at Berry Pomeroy
If you like spine-chilling tales of the supernatural, then the audio tour of Berry Pomeroy Castle will either thrill you or frighten you half to death! However, if you prefer a less traumatic day out with the family, the grounds around the castle are perfect for walkers. You can end your hike in the café which is open Wednesdays through Sundays for drinks and refreshments.
Are you one of the many tourists that visit Berry Pomeroy Castle each year? We'd love to hear what you thought of this magnificent ruin. Did you feel anything strangely chilling in this supposedly haunted castle?