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BERRY POMEROY CASTLE

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Berry Pomeroy castle is located 1km north-east of the village of Berry Pomeroy and 3km east of Totnes, on a north-facing slope overlooking a deep, narrow, limestone gorge. The earliest remains now visible on the site date to the late 15th century, when a defended residence with a dry moat was built within a deer park belonging to the Pomeroy family. Prior to this, Berry Pomeroy was the site of a Manor House. The earliest documentary reference to a castle on the site is 1496. It is thought to be one of the last private castles built in England and was particularly strongly defended, intended to repel an attack using artillery.

It was built around a central courtyard and comprises a gatehouse and three towers connected by curtain walls. 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 the defensive dry moat. In 1547, the castle was sold by Sir Thomas Pomeroy to Edward Seymour, first Duke of Somerset. Edward was the Lord Protector to the young King Edward VI, and the brother of Jayne Seymour who was the third wife of Henry VIII. His son (also Edward), known as Lord Seymour, replaced the 15th century domestic buildings with a Tudor mansion, the remains of which survive to a height of four storeys. It was built on a courtyard plan with two wings extending back from a hall range to the curtain wall. Edward's son, Sir Edward Seymour 1st baronet, started a grand scheme of enlargement including an impressive state range on the north-west side, beyond the limits of the old defences.

The castle was abandoned between 1688 and 1701 and became well-known as a 'haunted' romantic ruin. In 1977, English Heritage took over the administration of the site. In 1978, a wall painting was discovered in the upper storey of the gatehouse, hidden behind a thick layer of vegetation. It is a representation of the Adoration of the Magi and has been dated to around 1500.

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