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Hemyock Castle

Frequently Asked Questions

Who owns Hemyock Castle?

Hemyock Castle is privately owned. The manor house is a private family house.

Who funds the conservation and maintenance?

The owners pay for the conservation and maintenance. English Heritage has made welcome contributions towards the high costs of specialist skilled workers and authentic materials.

What is the difference between restoration and conservation?

Hemyock Castle is a scheduled ancient monument, there are now very strict rules which govern any maintenance or conservation work. Most of the other buildings on the site are also listed, so are also covered by strict rules.

In former time, especially during the 19th century, there was a fashion for restoring old properties. General Simcoe wanted to restore Hemyock Castle to its medieval splendour. This could have left it looking like the model we display. He died before achieving this. Elsewhere, many castles and old buildings were restored. Several look very impressive, some were wrecked.

However, today's authorities permit only very carefully controlled conservation of Hemyock Castle. Their aim is to pass an authentic monument on to future generations.

Why has there been so little excavation of the site?

As owners, we are not allowed to excavate the site. Metal detectors are forbidden. Any digging or building work must be supervised by trained archaeologists. The owners have to pay for this supervision.

Generally, modern archaeologists prefer not to disturb buried remains. They prefer to leave them intact for future generations.

However, there has been some limited excavation, and in 1999 a team from English Heritage performed a brief geophysical survey of part of the site.

The results of these surveys have raised interesting questions. We do hope to arrange further surveys.

In particular, we would like to dredge the moat. As well as clearing the deep mud, there may be much of interest: According to one story, a complete horse and cart sank into the mud. There is probably much more to find — the Asthorpe treasure?

Where is Hemyock Castle?

Hemyock Castle is in the heart of Hemyock village in the Culm valley amongst the Blackdown Hills in Devon, England. It is about 12 miles from Taunton, 12 miles from Honiton, 15 miles from Tiverton and 5 miles south of Wellington. Hemyock is reached easily from the M5 motorway or from the A303.

Click here for travel directions.

When is Hemyock Castle open to the public?

Hemyock Castle is open on Bank Holiday Monday afternoons from 2 to 5 pm between Easter and September. It can be opened specially at other times for visits by schools and groups. The Castle is often open for special events and for Heritage Open Days.

Residential guests staying in the holiday cottages have free use of the grounds and are invited to a complimentary tour.

Is the site accessible to wheel-chairs?

Most of the site is fairly level, so is accessible to wheel chairs and push chairs. There are toilets on site and accessible toilets nearby in Hemyock village.

As regards our cottages: Oliver's Bay is a ground floor apartment with a level entrance but the bathroom and WC are not fully accessible. The ground floor of Mow Barton is fully accessible (category 3 access certificate). It has a special accessible shower and WC.

Are teas available?

Sorry, at present we do not serve teas. However, there is a cafe nearby in Hemyock village and the Catherine Wheel serves meals. On Heritage Open Days, teas are available at St. Mary's Church.

Is Hemyock Castle impressive?

Hemyock castle is better described as interesting. Remember that many of our popular images of castles come from royal palaces, Victorian "Gothic" or Hollywood!

Hemyock castle is surprisingly compact: The medieval curtain walls enclosed a space little more than 50 metres square, about the same size as Bodiam Castle. It was always a small, working castle rather than a grand royal palace. Several centuries later, during the English Civil War, there was a brief brutal siege. Most of the castle was destroyed and the ruins were quarried for stone.

However, with the help of our displays and guide book, it is possible to imagine the castle and life of the times. Today, the site has a pleasant tranquil atmosphere rather than the oppressive evil atmosphere of some castles.

What is there to see?

Little can be seen from the road. Once inside, you can walk around the 2 acre site viewing the ruins and the displays.

You can (carefully) climb the steps up the remains of the massive gate house. Although now only half its original 40 foot height, there is a commanding view from the top. Large fragments of the towers, curtain walls and moat remain, especially along the Northern side.

Displays in the Interpretation Centre show life through the centuries.

The castle Dungeon holds interesting archaeological finds.

The castle Farmyard has the ancient wooden Cider Press and farming displays.

When I drive past, little is visible from the road!

Although in the centre of Hemyock village, the castle site is well screened by walls and trees. Little can be seen from the road.

How can I arrange a school or group visit?

Group visits are especially welcome at any time, by prior arrangement. We host many group visits throughout the year. Contact us for details.

Do you host weddings?

Sorry, at present we cannot host weddings. However, the nearby St. Mary's Church (C. of E.) is very attractive and popular.

Can we stay at Hemyock Castle?

Yes. There are four comfortable cottages in the castle grounds and alongside St. Margaret's Brook. Each cozy cottage has been carefully modernized, preserving its original charm. The cottages are called: "Mow Barton" "Oliver's Bay" "Sir William" and "Lady Margaret."

These popular cottages are available are normally let unfurnished, on long lets.
Click here for booking details.

What is a castle?

Typically, a medieval "castle" was a private stronghold also used as an occasional residence by the owner. Often, the castle would be occupied by a garrison and the owner would live in more comfort elsewhere.

Following the advent of gunpowder and powerful cannon, many castles fell into disuse. Some were replaced by "forts" which housed only their garrisons.

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Hemyock Castle, Hemyock, CULLOMPTON, Devon, EX15 3RJ, UK.
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