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NUNNEY CASTLE

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Nunney Castle is a quadrangular castle in the centre of the village of Nunney, on the west bank of Nunney Brook. The castle is of a highly distinctive design, consisting of a tall four storey rectangular building containing the principal rooms, with large closely-spaced circular towers providing more private chambers. The towers still rise almost to their full height, and are crested by a parapet surmounted by a drum turret. They were originally covered by conical roofs whilst the main block had a pitched roof. Entry was on the ground floor via a drawbridge from the North. The building is tightly enclosed by a wide moat. The interior originally comprised of Kitchen and stores on the ground floor, servants' quarters on the first floor, the principal rooms including the Great Hall on the second floor and sleeping chambers above. Nunney Castle was built by Sir John de la Mare in 1373, later Keeper of Old Sarum and Sheriff of Somerset, when he obtained a licence to fortify and 'crenelate' his house. He contributed to the one hundred years war in France and the castle has evidently been influenced by the French tradition of architecture. It was extensively modernised in the late 16th century. The owners, the Prater family, were Royalists and Roman Catholic in the Civil War, and the castle was besieged by the Parliamentarians in 1645, falling after two days when the north side of the castle was severely damaged by gunfire. It was 'slighted' thereafter, although the walls were left intact, the north wall only finally collapsing on Christmas Day 1910. The moat was restored in the early part of the 20th century. Originally it would have been far more substantial, with water extending to the castle walls. Nikolaus Pevsner described the castle in his Buildings of England series as 'aesthetically the most impressive castle in Somerset'. The castle is in the care of English Heritage.

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Further information about monuments may be obtained by contacting Archive Services, through the English Heritage website.