5 English Heritage locations to visit in Devon
15th December 2021
The English Heritage was founded in 1983 and manages over 400 historic houses and locations in England. Devon is home to some amazing English Heritage locations, and they are the perfect places to explore with the family. In this article, we reveal these locations in a little more detail with quotes and location recommendations from bloggers and Devon locals.
5 English Heritage locations to visit in Devon:
- Dartmouth Castle
- Berry Pomeroy Castle
- Okehampton Castle
- Lydford Castle and Saxon Town
Location: Dartmouth, South Devon
Dartmouth Castle sits on the water of the Dart Estuary and has done for over 600 years. Building started in 1388 and has been a stronghold to protect the town from invasion ever since, with gun emplacements and mounted canons. Claire from the blog Devon With Kids highly recommends Dartmouth Castle as a great location for the whole family to explore, commenting:
“Our favourite English Heritage place to visit in Devon is Dartmouth Castle. Rather than being a castle for kings or queens, it's actually a fort that has been protecting the port town of Dartmouth since the 14th Century. You can visit the ammunition stores and see the castle's canons, find out about the lifestyle of the soldiers stationed here over the centuries and climb up to the roof for brilliant views of the River Dart, town and the English Channel.”
The castle has plenty to keep the whole family occupied including a climb to the top of the battlement tower for wonderful views, ferry boat rides to and from the castle and a homemade cream tea from the onsite café.
Berry Pomeroy Castle
Location: Totnes, South Devon
This dramatic ruin was once one of the most illustrious mansions in Elizabethan England. The build of Berry Pomeroy Castle started in 1600 by Edward Seymour who intended to turn his modest country home into one of the most dramatic homes in the country. Travesty struck and the castle was never finished and finally abandoned in 1700 and it has since been known as one of the most haunted locations in Devon.
The website Day Out With The Kids explains a little more about the castle on their site, saying: “Berry Pomeroy Castle is tucked away in a deep wooded valley, and is the perfect romantic ruin with a colourful and intriguing history to discover! A reputedly haunted ruins to explore amongst the woods and rocky outcrops of Berry Pomeroy. Explore the dramatic ruined shell of the great Elizabethan mansion of the Seymours, set within the 15th-century defences of the Pomeroy castle. Building of the house began in about 1560, with ambitious enlargements from circa 1600 intending to create the most spectacular house in Devon!”
Visitors can wander around the mighty ruins to understand Seymour’s visions, listen to ghost stories through the guided tour headphones and explore the surrounding woodland and stunning grounds.
Location: Okehampton, West Devon
Another ruin sitting pretty in the Devon countryside, Okehampton Castle was converted into a palatial home by Hugh Courtenay, Earl of Devon in the 14th-century. The castle began to fall to ruins in the 16th century when the last owner fled and left the castle unoccupied.
The blogger Solo Sophie commented about her visit to the castle on her blog, saying: “A series of ruined walls once formed the largest castle in Devon… Situated on the outskirts of Dartmoor, in an unassuming field you’ll find all that’s left of the once-grand Okehampton Castle. Just a short walk away, you’ll find an ancient town of the same name, Okehampton. The fort-like remains here have stood in the same position, overlooking the town below and defending it from potential invaders for almost a thousand years.”
There is plenty to do at the castle as well as walking around the ancient ruins, you can explore the local countryside along with the abundance of wildlife walks, hear the history on an audio tour or you can explore the defences by walking along the defensive motte ditch.
Lydford Castle and Saxon Town
Location: Lydford, West Devon
This free to enter English Heritage location is unlike any other. Lydford Castle and Saxon Town sits in the village of Lydford and consists of an imposing Norman Fort and surrounding Saxon town ruins. Sitting on the edge of Dartmoor, Lydford is home to three defensive features and was historically used as a prison and is commonly mentioned when talking about harsh punishments of times gone by.
The castle and outer buildings finally fell to ruins in 1650 when the walls started to cave in, and the roof began to decay. Visitors to the site can wander around the ancient grounds, find out more about its history and explore the nearby village and step back in time for the day.
Location: Postbridge, Yelverton, West Devon
Grimspound is an ancient settlement on Dartmoor and is the perfect option for those who like a country walk and want to see some beautiful scenery. The Bronze Age site is home to 24 ruined round houses and a large boundary circle, once used by locals thousands of years ago. By walking up the nearby Hookney Tour or Hameldown you can see great views of Grimspound.
Grimspound is situated on uneven ground so should only be accessed by those who are stable on their feet and can manage rocky ground. If you often use stairlifts or walk in shower enclosures in your home, then make sure you check the accessibility of the sites before visiting.
If you’re planning to visit Devon soon and want to explore some historic sites, then hopefully this article has given you a little inspiration of places to visit. For more tips and blogs like these then head to our news section.
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