9 Must-Visit Castles in South Devon

Castles in South Devon

Castles and Forts in South Devon

Looking for the best castles in South Devon

From protecting the land against sea invasions to safeguarding hilltops, towns, and fortified manor houses, Devon has an array of castles. 

Whether it’s coastal fortifications in Dartmouth, ruins within Dartmoor National Park’s moorland, or ancient sites in historical towns like Totnes, there’s no shortage of castles to explore.

In this blog, we’ve put together a list of some of the must-visit castles in South Devon to help plan your next adventure.

Let’s jump in.

9 Best Castles in South Devon

1. Dartmouth Castle

Dartmouth Castle, located at the entrance to the Dart Estuary, offers stunning views of the coastline. This fortress, built in the 14th century, played a crucial role in defending the area from invaders. 

Visitors can explore the gun tower, and artillery and enjoy the picturesque surroundings, making it a must-visit historical site.

Related: 13 Best Things to Do in Dartmouth

Dartmouth Castle in South Devon

2. Kingswear Castle

While the new castle in Dartmouth was under construction in 1481, a castle was also erected in Kingswear, on the opposite side of the river mouth, to bolster the harbour’s defence. 

Completed in 1502, Kingswear Castle, along with Dartmouth Castle, showcased the cutting-edge military design of their era. 

Within 50 years, the castle became obsolete, manned only during wartime. Left to deteriorate, it was later restored and repurposed as a summer residence in 1855 and is currently utilised as a holiday let.

3. Berry Pomeroy Castle

Nestled in a secluded wooded valley near Totnes, Berry Pomeroy Castle was originally constructed as the residence of the de la Pomeroy family in the late 15th century. 

Ambitiously expanded in the 17th century, it was left unfinished and eventually abandoned. Managed by English Heritage, the castle is renowned as one of Britain’s most haunted sites.

4. Totnes Castle

Totnes Castle, perched high above the town, offers panoramic views of the River Dart and surrounding countryside. Dating back to the Norman era, this well-preserved motte-and-bailey castle provides a glimpse into medieval history. 

Visitors can explore the keep, climb the battlements, and enjoy the picturesque setting, making it a must-see attraction.

Related: 21+ Best Things to Do in Totnes

Totnes Castle - Things to do in Totnes

5. Compton Castle

Compton Castle, currently the residence of Geoffrey and Angela Gilbert and their family, was initially owned by the de Compton family. 

Originally a manor house, it was expanded in the 1450s and fortified following French raids on Plymouth in the 1520s. 

Acquired by Commander Walter Raleigh Gilbert in 1931, the castle and its orchard were restored and are now managed by the National Trust.

6. Okehampton Castle

Situated north of Dartmoor, Okehampton Castle stands as the largest castle ruin in Devon. 

Originally constructed as a motte and bailey castle following the Norman Conquest, it was later transformed into a luxurious residence by the Earl of Devon in the 14th century. 

Managed by English Heritage, the site offers picturesque woodland walks and picnic areas alongside its historic ruins.

7. Castle Drogo

Constructed between 1911 and 1930, Castle Drogo is a country house and mixed-revivalist castle near Drewsteignton, famously the last castle built in England. 

Commissioned by Julius Drewe, founder of Home and Colonial Stores, and designed by architect Edwin Lutyens, it is considered one of his finest works. In 1974, the Grade I listed castle was gifted to the National Trust, becoming the Trust’s first acquisition of a twentieth-century building. 

The gardens are also Grade II* listed on the National Register of Historic Parks and Gardens.

8. Exeter Castle

The original structures on the site, worthy of the name “castle,” were destroyed in 1003. In 1068, William the Conqueror chose the location for a larger, more fortified castle. 

After General Fairfax’s surrender in 1646, the military fortress lost its significance. Nestled in the highest part of Exeter, the castle, known locally as Rougemont Castle, now lies partially concealed by parkland and gardens. 

Under private ownership, the aim is to transform Exeter castle into a lively venue for art, music, food, and drink, open to the public.

9. Powderham Castle

Powderham Castle, a fortified manor house situated 6 miles from Exeter on the River Exe, has been the seat of the Courtenay family, Earls of Devon since 1556. 

The castle underwent significant expansion and alterations in the 18th and 19th centuries, notably by James Wyatt in the 1790s.

Listed as Grade I, the building, along with its Grade II* listed park and gardens, is open to visitors as a historical attraction and wedding venue.

Related: 17 Best Things to Do in Exeter

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Castles in South Devon

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