Get into the Halloween spirit with this castle’s fascinating history of ghostly encounters

Did you know about all the ghosts spotted at Dunster Castle?

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In the run-up to Halloween, you may be looking for activities and places to visit to get you into the spirit of the season.

You needn’t look far, as right on your doorstep is perhaps one of the most prolific spooky spots in the country - Dunster Castle.

Over the years, there have been several instances of ghosts being reported in the castle, and the National Trust, which owns the castle, is even hosting ‘ghost tours’ of the building this year.

One of the most commonly reported spectres in the castle is ‘The Man in Green’. In the seventeenth century stable block, which is now home to the National Trust’s gift shop, staff members have said that they have seen a man dressed in green walking through the shop before disappearing.

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He seems to frequent this area, with his menacing aura causing visitors to ask whether any murders have happened in the room.

Further to this, there have been reports of a “mysterious green light” that bobs across the shop and disappears - and unopened boxes in the shop are sometimes ruined by an unexplained “brown, sticky gunge”.

But The Man In Green is not the only ghost to have been spotted at Dunster Castle.

One cleaner working in the castle said that she came face to face with the ghost of a man in an “old-fashioned military uniform”. The area that she was working in was later discovered to have been a dormitory for Civil War troops - something that she could not have known beforehand.

In the Blue Kitchen, a volunteer working for the National Trust reported that a disembodied human foot appeared out of nowhere, and several people have claimed to have heard disembodied voices and footsteps when there was nobody else around.

And while not a traditional ghost, the Gatehouse has its share of the eerie too.

dunster castle gatehouse

In a dungeon below the Gatehouse, the skeleton of a seven-foot-tall man chained to the wall by his wrists and ankles was found, along with several other skeletons.

No ghost has been reported here - but dogs refuse to go near the area and shy away from the steps near where the bodies were found.

The Trust explains: “Dunster Castle is full of ghosts and those that work at this ancient Norman fortress report many strange experiences.

“These range from peculiar sensations, inexplicable events and sightings of ghostly figures, to other, sinister sensations that sometimes seem only perceptible to dogs.”

Dunster Castle dates back to the 11th century, after the Norman conquest of England, when Earl of Somerset William de Mohun constructed the early castle.

The castle was then fortified in the 12th century and survived a siege, and by the 1300s had been sold to the Luttrell family, who would eventually hold the title of Earl of Carhampton.

Going under siege again in the Civil War of the 1640s, the medieval castle walls were mostly destroyed, but were later repaired by the family.

In the 1970s, then-owner Colonel Walter Luttrell, a World War II veteran, gave the property to the National Trust.

But with the paranormal presences spotted at the castle, it could be that there is a lot more to Dunster Castle.

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Dunster Castle

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Historic Dunster Castle among UK's most haunted and has an 'eerie man in green'

Visitors have reported that they have seen an ‘eerie man in green’ walking through a Somerset castle.

  • 16:00, 22 OCT 2022

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Over the years, visitors have reported seeing an ‘eerie man in green’ walking through a Somerset's Dunster castle.

The ghost has been spotted at the castle, near Minehead, and visitors and locals say they saw the man walking through the building before he disappeared in front of them.

There have also been reports of male voices and the sound of footsteps at the landmark.

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With the Halloween season fast approaching, searches for the most haunted places in England have gone through the rough.

Dunster Castle has been named as one of the most haunted places to visit in the UK.

The castle has been ranked as the fifth most haunted location by holidaycottages.co.uk, which has revealed the spookiest hot spots across the UK.

If Somerset residents are looking for a spooky getaway this half term, then Dunster Castle is for you.

The paranormal hotspot has had many reports of strange experiences, from ghostly appearances to ‘spine-tingling’ sensations.

Visitors have even witnessed an eerie man in green walking through the castle only to disappear in front of their very eyes.

It has also been said that men’s voices and loud footsteps echo through the castle grounds.

During the Halloween season, Dunster Castle is offering many scary activities for residents to experience.

There is also a ghost walk, whereby families and locals can take in the history of Dunster Castle and the surrounding area.

With reports of an eerie man in green and a wide range of spooky encounters, Dunster Castle may appeal to the masses this year.

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ghosts of dunster castle

THE CHINK OF GHOSTLY COINS AND THE VANISHING ROUNDHEAD

DUNSTER CASTLE CASTLE

  • INTRODUCTION
  • HALLOWEEN POEMS
  • GHOST WALKS

CRADLED IN A SYLVAN EMBRACE

Dunster castle, dunster, somerset..

Rising from its sylvan cradle the dramatic towers and majestic gables of Dunster Castle present as picturesque a stronghold as you could wish to encounter.

Dunster Castle, exterior view.

Dunster Castle Photograph By John Mason

William de Mohun built the original castle on a site granted him by William the Conqueror.

THE SCOURGE OF THE WEST

His most infamous descendent was the third William de Mohun, a fanatical supporter of the Empress Matilda in her Civil War against King Stephen.

He was known as the "Scourge of the West" on account of his frequent bouts of plunder and burning in the locality. When Stephen besieged the stronghold, de Mohun set about minting his own coinage here, an action that may be responsible for the ghostly chinking of money that is often heard about the castle, especially on the nights of a full moon.

The direct male line of the family died out in 1376, and ownership of Dunster Castle passed to Lady Elizabeth Luttrell whose descendents owned it for almost six centuries. It was they who probably built the imposing gatehouse, which dates from around 1400 and is now the oldest part of Dunster Castle.

THE ROYALISTS TAKE OVER THE CASTLE

In the Civil War, although the Luttrell’s were not Royalists, Dunster Castle was seized and held by a Royalist garrison.

Besieged by the Parliamentarians, who battered its walls with their heavy artillery, the governor Colonel Wyndham held out for 160 days.

JUST DO YOUR DUTY

At one point, legend claims, the Roundhead commander, Colonel Blake, threatened to stand Wyndham’s mother in the line of fire, unless he surrendered.

However, when the spirited old lady gallantly urged her son to just do his duty, Blake reconsidered and backed down.

But in April 1646, with the Royalist strongholds everywhere hauling down their flags in despair at the collapse of their cause, Wyndham finally surrendered Dunster Castle.

THE GHOSTLY OLD WOMAN

Every so often the proud figure of an elderly woman, garbed in 17th century dress, has been seen flitting fitfully around the corridors and precincts of the castle.

She is a silent and harmless spectre whose favoured time of walking is whenever the air hereabouts is heavy with thunder.

By the 19th century the Lutterell family were intent on making their castle more comely than commanding, and they employed the services of Anthony Salvin who carried out considerable remodelling.

THE VANISHING ROUNDHEAD

The result is the delightful castle that is now owned by the National Trust and where, in addition to the aforementioned hauntings, a ghostly Roundhead makes occasional returns to the gatehouse's spectacular Leather Room, where his habit of disappearing into a close and solid door both amazes and astonishes visitors.

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Dunster Castle, Gardens & Watermill | National Trust | Visitor Information

Well worth a visit when in Exmoor National Park, the magnificent Dunster Castle is now run by the National Trust as a tourist attraction. Hundreds of years old, this medieval country home will have plenty to keep you entertained. There are ‘behind the scenes’ tours to help you get a glimpse of how the servants lived, run daily from March until November. Visit the crypt and learn about the ghosts of Dunster Castle… if you’re feeling brave enough!

Dunster castle

A brief history of Dunster Castle

To start this epic fairytale, we can consider the very beginning; Castle version number one consisted of a Saxon Hillfort, a fortification constructed sometime around 700AD. Several hundred years later, the Norman Warrior William de Mohun’ replaced the original Hillfort with a motte-and-bailey style timber castle. Williams’ son (of the same name) then constructed the upper stone fortifications sometime in the early 12th century. During this time and beyond, various battles, periods of anarchy and the civil war tested the Castle for its military functionality, much of it destroyed and rebuilt.

In 1376, the Castle passed into its next chapter – from Mohuns to Lutterals. This family made significant modifications and expansions over the generations; the building of the gatehouse (1420), the creation of the Jacobean mansion (1617) and, subsequently, into a comfortable Victorian home (1868). Only in recent years (1976) did the Lutterals finally pass the Castle onto the National Trust, who offer it as the incredible tourist attraction it is today.

credit: suresh.a.singh

Opening times & Ticket Prices

Opening times vary and are well worth checking on the National Trust Website. As a general guide, they have previously been; 

Open all year. April to October 10 am – 5 pm. November to March 11 am – 4 pm. 

Ticket prices: Adult £13, Child £6.50, Family £32.50

Dunster Castle Gardens

For further magnificence, wander through the incredible 15 acres of Castle Gardens. A combination of significant botanical input over the years and an unusual microclimate results in a diverse and exotic mix of plant species. 

The South Terrace

Head to the South Terrace for dreamy views across the Bristol Channel and Deer Park. The layout and planting of the South Terrace stem from the Victorian period, with magnificent floral displays in the summer. Additionally, you’ll see various Mediterranean species thriving in the sunny ambience. Try out the Orangery for coffee and snacks, the Lemon House, and Swan Pond – home to goldfishes and newts, providing plenty of entertainment for the whole family.

The River Garden

A wild and wooded area around the River Avil, with small bridges crossing back and forth. I love the giant rhubarb here, which adds to the magical, otherworldly feel. Continuing down the path will lead you to the Working Watermill and tea-room

The Yew Bank

The cool, dark shade of yew trees has been utilised here since first commissioned by Dorothy Luttrell back in 1720.

Climb to the highest point of the gardens, of the Castle, and of the whole of Dunster! Take a walk around The Keeps’ perimeter for more incredible views of the Somerset landscape. Once the Upper Ward of the Norman fortress, this area was levelled in 1721 to form a Bowling Green. The Octagon Tower, constructed for ladies and bowling participants, now houses a historical exhibition.

Dunster castle

Dunster Working Watermill

Dunster castle

Dunster Castle and Garden admission now includes The Watermill. A mill was first recorded to be present at the site in the Domesday Book, although the present building dates back to 1780. Situated on the River Avil, close to Gallow Bridge, is fully restored and still used to grind flour – you can even buy some flour to take home.

Family useful information:

  • Baby-changing facilities
  • Front-carrying baby slings for loan
  • Family and children’s guides
  • Children’s quiz/trail
  • Wheel-friendly route in gardens
  • Family events and activity days

Click here for the National Trust Dunster Castle Website

Other posts you may be interested in;

Things to Do in Dunster | Visitor Information

Circular Walk | Dunster | 2 Hour Walk 

Things to Do in Minehead | A Visitors Guide

Our Top 10 Things to Do on Exmoor

Self-catering accommodation in & around Dunster

If you are looking for some nearby accommodation, there are plenty of  self-catering cottages available for short stays in the village of Dunster  many of which are within an easy walking distance of the castle

cottages in dunster

ghosts of dunster castle

Dunster Castle: Between Living History and Phantom Whispers

Dunster Castle is a place steeped in history and mystery. Located in the heart of Somerset, England, it exudes an irresistible allure that draws visitors from all over the world. This iconic castle offers the perfect blend of living history and ghostly tales, making it an enthralling destination for anyone seeking a unique experience.

For those who are intrigued by ghostly encounters , Dunster Castle has a reputation for being one of the most haunted places in the UK. It has been the site of numerous reported sightings of ghostly apparitions, mysterious sounds, and inexplicable occurrences.

Key Takeaways:

  • Dunster Castle offers a fascinating blend of living history and ghostly tales.
  • The castle is known for its reputation of being one of the most haunted places in the UK.
  • Visitors can immerse themselves in the past with actors portraying historical characters.
  • The castle’s architecture and enchanting grounds are a sight to behold.
  • Practical information and tips for visitors planning a trip to Dunster Castle.

Unveiling the Secrets of Dunster Castle

Perched atop a hill overlooking the picturesque village of Dunster, Dunster Castle stands as a testament to centuries of history and legend. The castle’s walls have witnessed everything from brutal battles to royal visits, and its halls are said to be haunted by ghosts from the past.

Castle Tales and Legends

Legend has it that the castle is home to several ghosts, including a lady in white, a phantom dog, and the spirit of a soldier from the English Civil War. According to local lore, the lady in white is the ghost of Lady Margaret Luttrell, who fell to her death from a tower window in the 18th century. Visitors have reported seeing her apparition walking along the castle walls, while others have heard the sound of a woman weeping in the dead of night.

The castle’s history is just as intriguing as its hauntings. Originally built in the 11th century by William de Mohun, the castle has undergone numerous additions and renovations over the centuries. It played a significant role in the English Civil War, serving as a stronghold for the Royalists before being seized by Parliamentarian forces.

Ghosts and Ghostly Encounters

Many visitors to Dunster Castle have reported eerie experiences, including the sensation of being watched and strange sounds echoing through the halls. One of the most chilling encounters was reported by a former curator, who claimed to have seen the ghostly figure of a soldier in one of the castle’s towers.

Whether you believe in ghosts or not, there’s no denying the allure of Dunster Castle. Its rich history and mysterious hauntings make it a must-see destination for anyone interested in the paranormal.

“Dunster Castle is steeped in history and has a very atmospheric presence.”

A Living History Experience

Visitors to Dunster Castle can immerse themselves in the past with living history experiences, where actors portray historical characters and bring the castle’s history to life. From medieval banquets to Tudor reenactments, these events offer a unique way to learn about the castle’s past.

Whether you’re drawn to the castle for its historical significance or seeking a glimpse of the supernatural, Dunster Castle is a captivating destination that’s sure to leave an impression.

History Comes Alive at Dunster Castle

Step back in time and experience the living history of Dunster Castle. As visitors explore the castle grounds, they will encounter actors dressed in period-appropriate clothing, who bring the history of the castle to life.

Dunster Castle’s rich history dates back to the 11th century when it was originally constructed as a motte-and-bailey castle. Over the centuries, the castle underwent numerous renovations, including Tudor and Victorian additions.

During a visit to Dunster Castle, visitors can explore the castle’s Great Hall, where the portraits of the Luttrell family, who owned the castle for over 600 years, still adorn the walls. Visitors can also explore the castle’s kitchens, where they can find displays of vintage kitchenware and learn about the history of cooking and dining.

Visitors to Dunster Castle can also witness the castle’s 17th-century watermill in action and view the impressive collection of antique cars owned by the Luttrell family.

Living History Tour

For a truly immersive experience, visitors can participate in the Living History Tour, where they can meet historical characters and learn about their lives in medieval and Tudor times. Visitors may encounter a knight in shining armor, a Tudor lady, or a medieval craftsman as they wander through the castle rooms.

The Living History Tour provides a unique perspective on the castle’s history and offers visitors a chance to engage with the past in a way that is both educational and entertaining. With the actors’ expert knowledge and attention to detail, visitors will feel as though they have been transported back in time.

Whether you’re seeking a glimpse into the past or a spine-tingling encounter with the supernatural, Dunster Castle offers an unforgettable experience that combines history and mystery. Discover the living history of Dunster Castle and unravel the secrets of its haunting past.

The Mysterious Dunster Castle Ghost

One of the most intriguing aspects of Dunster Castle is its reputation for being haunted. The castle has been the site of numerous ghostly encounters , with the most famous being the apparition of the “Grey Lady”.

“She was wearing a grey dress and had a tragic look on her face… she just disappeared in front of me…” – Dunster Castle visitor

The Grey Lady is said to be the ghost of a former owner of the castle, who died tragically while searching for her lover. Her spirit is said to wander the castle’s corridors, appearing to visitors and staff alike. She is not the only ghost said to haunt the castle, with other reports of phantom footsteps and ghostly apparitions throughout the years.

Despite the spooky tales, Dunster Castle is still a must-visit location for those interested in history, architecture, and the paranormal. Whether you believe in ghosts or not, the castle’s rich history and stunning surroundings make it a captivating destination for all.

Ghostly Tales: Hauntings at Dunster Castle

With its long history and reputation for hauntings, it’s no surprise that Dunster Castle has plenty of ghostly tales to tell. Visitors and staff alike have reported chilling encounters with apparitions and unexplained phenomena, making this historic site a must-visit for paranormal enthusiasts.

One of the most famous ghostly encounters at Dunster Castle is with the “Grey Lady.” This apparition is said to be the spirit of a former resident who lost her husband during the English Civil War. Visitors have reported seeing her ghostly figure walking through the castle’s corridors and disappearing through walls.

Another eerie encounter reported by many is the sound of phantom footsteps echoing through the castle’s empty hallways. Some have even claimed to have seen ghostly figures moving about the castle, dressed in period clothing and disappearing as they approach.

But it’s not just the castle itself that seems to be haunted. The surrounding grounds and gardens have also been the site of supernatural occurrences. One particularly chilling tale involves the ghostly apparition of a horse and carriage pulling up to the castle doors, only to vanish into thin air.

Whether you’re a skeptic or a believer, the ghostly tales of Dunster Castle are sure to send shivers down your spine. Visit this historic site and see for yourself if you can encounter the paranormal.

Exploring the Paranormal at Dunster Castle

If you’re fascinated by the supernatural, Dunster Castle is a must-visit destination. Paranormal investigations have been conducted at the castle, and many visitors have reported ghostly encounters over the years. From unexplained noises to ghostly apparitions, the castle’s mystique has attracted the attention of ghost hunters from around the world.

One of the most intriguing paranormal experiences reported at Dunster Castle is the sighting of a ghostly figure in a hooded cloak. Described as a tall, dark figure, this apparition has been seen in various parts of the castle by both visitors and staff members. It’s believed to be the ghost of a former resident who still lingers in the castle to this day.

Some visitors have also reported hearing phantom footsteps echoing through the castle’s hallways. These unexplained sounds are said to be the ghostly remnants of former inhabitants who still roam the castle’s halls. Others have reported feeling cold spots and sudden drops in temperature, which are often associated with paranormal activity.

If you’re interested in exploring the paranormal at Dunster Castle, there are several ways to do so. The castle offers ghost tours that take visitors on a spine-chilling journey through its haunted halls. Alternatively, you can conduct your own investigation by exploring the castle’s nooks and crannies on your own. Who knows what ghostly encounters you may discover?

No matter what your level of interest in the paranormal may be, Dunster Castle is sure to captivate and intrigue you. Its rich history and ghostly tales combine to create a truly unforgettable experience.

Dunster Castle’s Historic Architecture

Nestled in the rolling hills of Somerset, Dunster Castle boasts a unique architectural design that combines elements of medieval and Tudor styles. Originally built in the 11th century as a Norman motte and bailey castle, it was later transformed in the 14th century to a stone fortress with a great gatehouse and a drawbridge.

The castle underwent further renovations in the 16th century, during the Tudor era, when it was transformed into a grand residence. The imposing gatehouse was replaced by an elegant grand entrance arch, and the inner courtyard was enclosed with a three-storey range of buildings.

One of the most striking features of Dunster Castle is its picturesque location, standing majestically on a hill overlooking the medieval village of Dunster and the surrounding countryside. The castle’s unique design, combined with its beautiful setting, make it a favourite location for film and television productions.

Dunster Castle’s impressive architecture, combined with its rich history and ghostly tales, make it an essential destination for visitors to Somerset.

The castle’s historic architecture provides a stunning backdrop for the many events that take place on its grounds throughout the year. From medieval themed fairs to ghost tours, visitors can enjoy a unique experience that blends the past with the present.

Whether you’re a history buff or a paranormal enthusiast, Dunster Castle offers an experience like no other. So why not plan a visit and explore this magnificent castle for yourself?

The Enchanting Grounds of Dunster Castle

As you walk through the enchanting grounds of Dunster Castle, you’ll find yourself transported to a different time and place. The picturesque gardens and stunning views provide the perfect backdrop for a day of exploration and relaxation.

The castle itself is surrounded by a moat and boasts a magnificent gatehouse, adding to the overall grandeur of the site. The gardens surrounding the castle also offer a glimpse of the past, with features such as a 17th-century dovecote and a medieval mill.

One of the highlights of the castle grounds is the Deer Park, a vast expanse of parkland that has been home to a herd of fallow deer since the 17th century. Visitors can take a leisurely stroll among the deer and enjoy the tranquillity of the park.

If you’re feeling adventurous, the castle grounds also offer a chance to explore the surrounding woodlands and hills. The Woodland Walk takes you through a thicket of trees, with stunning views of the castle and the surrounding countryside.

For those seeking a more relaxed experience, the castle tea rooms offer a chance to indulge in traditional refreshments while enjoying the beautiful scenery.

The Gardens at Dunster Castle

The gardens of Dunster Castle are a sight to behold, with a variety of plant species and stunning displays throughout the year. Visitors can stroll among the various gardens, each one with its own unique character.

Overall, the enchanting grounds of Dunster Castle provide a perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life. Whether you’re seeking a peaceful walk through the gardens or a chance to immerse yourself in history, the castle grounds offer something for everyone.

Dunster Castle: A Visitor’s Guide

If you’re planning a visit to Dunster Castle, there are a few things you should know before you go. Here’s a guide to help make your visit a memorable one:

  • Opening Hours: Dunster Castle is open from 10am to 5pm daily from February to November. Please note that the castle is closed from November to February.
  • Ticket Prices: Admission prices vary depending on the time of year. Adult tickets cost £12.50, while children under 16 can enter for free. Please check the Dunster Castle website for the latest prices.
  • Getting There: Dunster Castle is located in the village of Dunster in Somerset. If you’re driving, there is a pay and display car park just outside the castle grounds. Alternatively, you can take the West Somerset Railway from Minehead or Bishops Lydeard, which stops at the Dunster station just a short walk from the castle.
  • Accessibility: While the castle itself is not fully accessible to visitors with mobility issues, there are several areas of the castle that can be accessed via a lift. There are also accessible toilets on site, as well as wheelchair hire available.
  • What to See: From the medieval gatehouse to the Victorian remodel, there is plenty to see and explore at Dunster Castle. Be sure to take a stroll through the picturesque gardens and enjoy the stunning views of the surrounding countryside.
  • Ghost Tours: If you’re brave enough, you can also take a ghost tour of the castle after dark. Listen to spine-tingling tales of ghostly encounters and explore the castle’s haunted history.

No matter what you choose to do during your visit, Dunster Castle is sure to provide an unforgettable experience steeped in history and mystery.

Captivating Events at Dunster Castle

There’s never a dull moment at Dunster Castle, with a wide range of events and activities held throughout the year. Whether you’re interested in history, architecture, or paranormal encounters, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

Living History Days

Experience life at Dunster Castle as it was in the past, with actors portraying historical characters and bringing the castle’s rich history to life. Learn about the challenges faced by those who lived and worked at the castle, and gain a new appreciation for the way of life of centuries past.

Castle Tours

Take a guided tour of the castle and explore its fascinating architecture, from medieval fortifications to Tudor renovations. Learn about the castle’s history and the many tales that surround it, from ghostly encounters to incredible tales of bravery and adventure.

Ghost Walks

For those seeking a spine-tingling adventure, Dunster Castle offers a range of ghost walks and paranormal events. Discover the castle’s haunted history and hear first-hand accounts of ghostly encounters, with experienced guides who will take you through the eerie halls and hidden corners of the castle.

Special Events

Throughout the year, Dunster Castle hosts a range of special events and exhibitions, from seasonal festivals to historical reenactments. Check the castle’s calendar of events to see what’s on during your visit, and don’t miss out on any of the captivating experiences offered at this one-of-a-kind location.

From castle tales to ghostly encounters, Dunster Castle provides a captivating venue for those seeking adventure and a glimpse into the past. Don’t miss out on all of the excitement that awaits you at this iconic location.

Dunster Castle is a fascinating destination that invites visitors to explore its unique blend of history and mystery. From the haunted tales to the living history experience, the castle offers a truly captivating encounter with the supernatural and the past. With its stunning architecture and enchanting grounds, Dunster Castle is a sight to behold.

If you’re planning a visit, be sure to take advantage of the many events and activities offered throughout the year. From ghost tours to historical reenactments, there’s always something exciting happening at Dunster Castle. And don’t forget to keep an eye out for ghostly encounters – who knows what you might witness on your visit!

In the end, Dunster Castle offers a unique and unforgettable experience for all who visit. Whether you’re a history buff or a paranormal enthusiast, you’re sure to be captivated by the castle’s mystique and charm. So pack your bags and prepare for a journey through time and the supernatural on your visit to Dunster Castle!

Keywords: dunster castle ghostly encounters

What makes dunster castle so special.

Dunster Castle is known for its unique combination of living history and ghostly encounters. It offers visitors a chance to step back in time while also exploring the mysteries and legends that surround the castle.

Are there any ghostly encounters reported at Dunster Castle?

Yes, Dunster Castle is famous for its ghostly encounters. Visitors and staff have reported seeing apparitions, hearing phantom footsteps, and experiencing other paranormal activities throughout the years.

Can I experience the castle’s history firsthand?

Absolutely! Dunster Castle provides a living history experience with actors portraying historical characters, giving visitors a chance to immerse themselves in the past and learn about the castle’s rich history.

Tell me more about the famous Dunster Castle ghost.

The Dunster Castle ghost is a well-known presence at the castle. It has been described as an apparition that appears to visitors and staff, adding to the castle’s mystical allure.

What kind of ghostly encounters have been reported at Dunster Castle?

There have been various ghostly encounters reported at Dunster Castle, including sightings of ghostly figures, unexplained sounds, and strange occurrences. It’s a place where the supernatural seems to come alive.

Has Dunster Castle been investigated by paranormal experts?

Yes, paranormal experts have conducted investigations at Dunster Castle to uncover its haunted secrets. These investigations have yielded interesting findings and further added to the castle’s reputation as a paranormal hotspot.

Are there any unique architectural features at Dunster Castle?

Absolutely! Dunster Castle showcases a blend of medieval and Tudor architecture. Visitors can admire its unique design elements, which contribute to the castle’s overall charm and mystique.

What can I expect when exploring the grounds of Dunster Castle?

The grounds of Dunster Castle are enchanting, with picturesque gardens and stunning views. It’s a perfect setting for a leisurely stroll or simply taking in the beauty of the surroundings.

Do you have any tips for visiting Dunster Castle?

Certainly! When planning a visit to Dunster Castle, it’s recommended to check the opening hours and ticket prices in advance. Additionally, be sure to explore the captivating events held at the castle throughout the year for an enhanced experience.

What kind of events are held at Dunster Castle?

Dunster Castle hosts a variety of events that cater to different interests. From historical reenactments to ghost tours, there’s always something captivating happening at the castle.

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ghosts of dunster castle

The Hauntings of Dunster Castle, Somerset

ghosts of dunster castle

Dunster Castle is situated high on a hill, overlooking the medieval town of Dunster and is on the north east boundary of Exmoor National Park in Somerset. The castle's history spans over a 1,000 years so as you may imagine, it has had some very spooky experiences happen within its walls. The castle and grounds are now run by the National Trust and there are also ghost walks in which tell some of these spooky tales and some of the horrific history of the castle. Here are just a few of those ghostly experiences-

One of the cleaners who worked in the castle, was stopped in her tracks by seeing a ghostly figure of a man wearing a strange and very old fashioned military uniform. The area, called The Leather Gallery, was later found to have been the dormitory where the Royalist soldiers slept. The castle had been conquered by the Royalists during the civil war and set up inside the castle. 

A man, dressed all in green, has been seen many times walking through what is now the National Trust shop but then he just disappears. The building was once a stable block, which was built in the 17th century. Also in the shop, a strange green light is also seen, which has been reported as just ‘bobbing along’- makes me wonder if the man in green and green light are the same entity?

A rather strange experience was when someone was working in the Blue Kitchen ( a 1960s kitchen within the castle) and when this person glanced down towards the floor, he saw a disembodied human foot! 

There is an oubliette where a male skeleton was found. His skeleton was in the position in which he died, with his wrists and ankles manacled to the wall, probably left to starve to death. The notable aspect of this was that the man had been over 7 feet tall! 

An excavation was made in the 17th century in which this skeleton was discovered and the remains were just left there. Another excavation was made in the 19th century, confirming the extremely tall skeleton. Rumour has it that the skeleton still remains in situ and the oubliette was covered over. The oubliette is by the gatehouse, in one of the towers and it’s in this area that cries and screaming of both men and women are heard. 

Another note of interest is that on the castle grounds there is a working water mill. There is a theory that running water can be an element to any paranormal activity that occurs to buildings near to it.

If you’ve had a paranormal experience in Dunster Castle then I’d love to hear about it. Please send your account here Contact me

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Dare to enter the dungeon of Dunster Castle this Halloween

If you’re looking for a spooky adventure this Halloween, join the candlelit ghost tours of Dunster Castle and discover its dark and grisly secrets

ghosts of dunster castle

By Lewis Clarke

Lewis is a reporter based in Tiverton. If you have a story, get in touch with [email protected].

Uncover the creepy tales, unused corridors and dark corners of Dunster Castle with two nights of candlelit, late night guided tours.

The tours will be held on the 30 and 31 October with the first tour at 6.20pm and the last at 10.20pm. Tickets available at www.nationaltrust.org.uk/dunster-castle .

Many of the historic houses that the National Trust look after have their fair share of dark and grisly tales and the hilltop at Dunster, home to a castle for more than 1,000 years, is no exception with many reports of ghostly sightings and sensations.

Among the castle’s grimmest of tales, is the story of the oubliette that adjoins the old gateway.  Many medieval castles would have had a means of holding their prisoners in an underground cell beneath a gatehouse, and this dark, damp space is reputed to be a pit dungeon where prisoners would have been lowered in through a trap door, forgotten about and left to die.

Sir Walter Luttrell told the story of a skeleton being found here in the 19th century, creating the legend of an excavation which unearthed a seven-foot-tall skeleton manacled to the wall by his wrists and ankles. Dogs seem particularly troubled by this sinister site and sometimes refuse to climb the steps near to where the body was found.

David Moore, house and collections manager at Dunster Castle, agreed that working at the castle can sometimes be eerie: ‘When we are closing up the castle at night, especially at this time of year, it is difficult not to see strange shadows in windows and hear footsteps or keys rattling.”

Each ghost tour will be led by an expert storyteller who will relay a wealth of haunted tales from the castle’s long and fascinating history including recent reports of men’s voices and loud marching footsteps in areas of the castle known to be empty.

Jill Schofield, senior programming and partnerships officer at Dunster Castle added “We can’t wait to welcome you to this year’s Ghost Tours at the castle. They’ve always been such a popular event here, though definitely not for the faint-hearted, it’ll be such a pleasure to welcome visitors again for two nights of jumps and chills.”

Dunster Castle’s ghost tours will take place on Monday 30 October and Tuesday 31 October and last approximately 50 minutes. Tickets are £25 per person and must be booked in advance at   https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/dunster-castle or by calling 0344 249 1895.

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Ultimate guide of Castles, Kings, Knights & more | Castrum to Castle

The History of Dunster Castle

Dunster Castle is a beautiful medieval castle located in the village of Dunster. This ancient castle highlights the place and presents visitors with dramatic vistas and subtropical gardens. It is a Grade I listed building operated by the National Trust as a tourist attraction. People who want to experience the beauty of the castle and stay at the very heart of the Dunster can plan their stay at Dunster Castle Hotel. It is a combination of traditional designs and modern comfort.

Dunster Castle has over 1000 years of history. In the world, this is the only castle that has been owned by only two families throughout its existence.

In 1066, de Mohun William arrived in England and became the new king of England. He constructed the timber castle on the site of the Dunster; however, by the 13th century, nothing from his structure remained because of weak structures other than a lower level gateway and iron-bound oak doors. However, the constant construction work continued to start in the castle.

In 1376, the Mohuns sold the castle to the Luttrell family for 5000 marks, who have held its ownership ever since. In 1571, George Luttrell hired William Arnold and transformed the castle into a luxurious mansion. However, the owners were not satisfied with the final work and accused him of poor workmanship. The overall project was very expensive and cost approximately 1,200 pounds. One of the surviving features you can find from his design now is the plasterwork ceiling in the inner hall.

In the 1640s, the Luttrells could not enjoy their new home for a long time because it was held for the parliament when the Civil War broke out. Finally, after many struggles, the family was able to get the leadership of the castle back and avoid its demolishment. However, in 1649, by the end of the Second English Civil War, the parliament decided to seize the castle again, demolish the castle’s defence, and give it to Royalists. The son of Thomas Luttrell, George convinced the parliamentary authorities to destroy only defensive outer walls and leave the castle’s inner parts untouched. After that, only the Great Gatehouse and the base of the towers survived.

In 1680, Francis married Mary Tregonwell, a rich Dorset heiress. They added modern aspects to the castle, including a carved wooden staircase. Margaret Luttrell, the daughter of the heir of the castle at that time, married Henry Fownes. He adopted the Luttrell surname and decided to move to Dunster castle in 1747. They also reformed the castle, raised its ground level, built additional embellished towers near Great Gatehouse, and added Rocco-style wallpapers.

In 1816, John Luttrell opened the castle to the public and shifted to London. And in 1868, George Luttrell became the owner of the castle. He hired Anthony Salvin, a famous architect, and changed the castle into a Victorian-style place and altered the exteriors. He also added servant quarters, innovated the bedrooms, and made the castle more luxurious.

After owning the Dunster castle for more than 600 years, the Luttrells left its ownership and gave it to the National Trust in 1976. Now, it is a famous tourist destination and a castle hotel in England.

Architecture

Dunster Castle

Dunster Castle is a former motte and bailey medieval castle that now gives a country house feel. It is located on the top of Tor Hill and has the Anglo-Saxon period feel. From being called a Timber Castle to evolving into a stone shell keep, the castle has transformed a lot since the 11th century. It has several towers in the lower ward, which makes it contemporary.

Also, it has 13th-century gates and artworks, like a Tudor copy of a famous allegorical portrait of Sir John Luttrell and leather tapestries reflecting the story of Antony and Cleopatra. The castle still has a piano that belonged to Vivian Ellis, a famous composer, enhancing its interior.

The castle is surrounded by 15 acres of gardens filled with Strawberry trees. On the south side of the castle, you will notice a restored 18th-century castle watermill, a famous picture spot. The redecoration efforts have been made to give the exterior and interior of the castle a period feel. The original wallpapers and materials used in the castle give it an authentic feel. Additionally, it has solar panels installed on the roof to make it more environmentally friendly.

The Dunster Castle Hotel offers rooms for stay, events, weddings, and functions, where people can spend time and enjoy the traditional feel. Each room is a perfect combination of modern comforts, styling, a traditional feel, and amazing views from the windows. So whether you want to explore the history of this castle or want to stay here, Dunster Castle offers all the facilities.

Movie Features

Mud  (1994-1995) : It is a comedy TV drama focused on a group of disadvantaged children taking the social worker outdoor activity to flee their problems.

The Apothecary  (2010) : It is a short drama directed by Paige Copsey focused on mediaeval life.

The Famous Five  (1995-1997) : It is an adventurous family TV series based on Enid Blyton’s children’s book.

You should also read about Dunster Castle Ghost stories !

Frequently Asked Questions

Where is dunster castle.

Dunster Castle is located in the beautiful village of Dunster, Somerset. You will find it on the top of the steep Tor hill, giving an illusion that the conical wooded hill is wearing a crown.

Can you get married at Dunster Castle?

Yes, Dunster Castle offers a different range of wedding options, where you can select the best hall depending on the guests. The halls have the perfect 15th-century feel, accompanied by Tudor windows and chandeliers hanging from the timberwork roof. You can even have an outdoor wedding at Dunster Castle in the summers.

The Great Gatehouse, Dunster Castle

Have you visited this castle before? If yes, why not share some beautiful pictures with us! You can email us your pictures of the castle at  [email protected] . Please use the name of the castle in the subject line. Also, don’t forget to mention your name and social media profile link if you want the credits!

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Debayan Dey

ghosts of dunster castle

He is a versatile E-Learning Support Officer and former Academic Officer at the University of York, United Kingdom. Not just an expert in education and technology, Debayan also has a deep love for castles and mountains. With a passion for travel, having explored 168+ cities worldwide, and a keen eye for photography, He brings a unique blend of experiences to the table. Specializing in E-learning content, IT support, AR development, and software engineering, Debayan has made a significant impact, educating over 200,000 students on Udemy.

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NEWS... BUT NOT AS YOU KNOW IT

We live in Britain’s most haunted village where every home has a ghost

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Village of Dunster in Somerset is one of Britain's most haunted

A historic village that’s full of stories about ghosts stalking its homes has been dubbed the ‘most haunted’ in Britain.

And the location of this supposedly haunted village ? It’s Dunster in Somerset .

Sitting on the edge of Exmoor National Park, close to the coast and not far from Minehead, Dunster is a tiny village with a castle and plenty of old buildings.

And legend has it that ‘nearly every home’ in the ancient settlement ‘has a ghost ’.

Spirits of monks, soldiers, witches and animals are said to roam the corridors and the castle, as well as the pubs and even the surrounding hills.

But while there are popular holiday hotspots not too far away, the village is pretty remote.

The Dovecote on the high street in Dunster

Dunster was once home to a large Benedictine chapel that was destroyed when Henry VIII reigned.

As the story goes, it was this that flooded the village with ghosts.

Some people say almost every building is haunted with all sorts of spectres, including Civil War troops, ‘grey ladies’ and even horses.

Sues Toogood bought a cottage in Dunster and said when she first moved there she ‘woke up in the middle of the night to voices’.

Sues Toogood, 55. Welcome to Britain's most haunted place where 'every home has a ghost' - including the spirits of monks, soldiers, witches and animals. The village of Dunster in Somerset is filled with stories of the undead stalking the houses and hills. Dunster, Somerset. Photo released October 30 2023. See SWNS story SWNAghost. Welcome to one of Britain's most haunted places where 'nearly every home has a ghost' - including the spirits of monks, soldiers, witches and animals. The ancient village of Dunster in Somerset is filled with stories of the undead stalking the houses, castle, pubs and hills. It was once home to a large Benedictine chapel which was destroyed when Henry VIII was King - which apparently saw it flooded with ghosts. Some locals say almost every building is haunted - by everything from Civil War troops, to 'grey ladies' and horses.

The 55-year-old pharmacy dispenser said: ‘[The cottage] was a wreck, the heating didn’t work at all and a tiny fireplace was the only source of heat.

‘I soon realised that all the smoke from the fire was coming out of a crack in the chimney in the upstairs bedroom.

‘I had nowhere else to go so I slept in the spare room.

‘In the early hours of the morning I woke up in the middle of the night to voices. I was a bit scared at first but I walked through and realised it was the radio.

‘It was a battery radio that I had put out for the builders. I thought it was strange but I switched it off and went back to bed, but then it happened again the next night.’

View of the supposedly haunted town of Dunster in Somerset

But Ms Toogood said she believes the ghostly presence actually saved her.

She continued: ‘I realised that if I had stayed asleep I might not have woken up because of the smoke and carbon monoxide coming in from the other room.

‘I felt like the ghost was saving me from dying, it was a kind presence. I truly believe the ghost was saving me.’

Carol Bowden also shared her story. She believes something about the village is unsettling her dog.

‘My husband and I have been coming to stay in the village for years and our dachshund Doogle was only a puppy,’ she said.

‘For the first four days we would walk down to the river past the mound and he would start barking at the trees, although he couldn’t see anything.

Church in Dunster, Somerset

‘Also when we were in the little snug of the hotel he would start barking at the mantelpiece, which wasn’t like him as he was usually quite a calm dog.

‘The following night it happened again, and the receptionist said the old lady stands there by the mantelpiece at that time.

‘The manager then asked where the dog had been barking and I said about the mound and he said that was where the roundhead and cavaliers were buried.’

Do you live somewhere spookier than Dunster? Email [email protected]

Janie and Nigel Deeming, 57 and 59, who run the oldest pub in Dunster, the 15th century Stag’s Head Inn, said nearly every building in the village is believed to have a ghost, including their pub.

Janie said: ‘The house that we live in is very active, and we’ve only just managed to settle it down.

Janie, 59 and Nigel Deeming, 57, from Dunster, Somerset, who own haunted pub Stag's Head Inn

‘I nearly didn’t move in here because they gave me merry hell, but now they’ve started to work with me rather than against me.

‘Before we moved here five months ago we stayed in a particular house in the area, and the last time we went, let’s just say the spirits were awake.

‘On the first night, a door on the dresser clicked open, and we didn’t think much of it but then it opened two or three more times.

‘I then put my hand on it to keep it closed, and it pushed back, and I knew that wasn’t normal.

‘The next night a book flew off the bookshelf and fell open on a ghost story, and we all joked about it, but later that night when I was washing up, I could feel a presence behind me.

‘We fell in love with Dunster and I love my house. I’ve managed to bring the spirits on my side, but it took some work.’

Business owner, Benedict Yeandle, 56, believes his resident ghost was the jealous type.

Benedict Yeandle, 56, from Dunster, Somerset

He said: ‘When I first moved in, for the first six weeks we had things happening, and customers would always notice it.

‘A smell of smoke could always be smelt even though there was no explanation for it, and one day a can of coke flew from one side of the room to the other, completely intact, just with a small dent in it.

‘I think whatever is living with me in here is a female, because it has only happened when I’ve employed female staff to work for me.

‘I’m a bachelor and I think it got a little bit jealous. But now there hasn’t been any women coming here, she’s settled down.’

Author Nina Dodd has actually written a book about the ghosts of Dunster called, ‘Witches, Giants and a Ghost Cat’ – a ‘travel guide to the mystery tales of Dunster.’

Nina Dodd, 66, an author living in 'haunted' Dunster, Somerset

The 66-year-old moved to Dunster from Finland 12 years ago and became interested in the English obsession with ghosts.

Ms Dodd, who runs the Dunster Living shop on the high street with her husband, says she hears lots of stories from local customers.

She said: ‘I find the British fascination with ghosts very interesting. In Finland, we do not have anywhere near as many ghost stories or ‘haunted’ places.

‘I think a big part of it is that England has so many older homes and buildings. In Finland, we built our homes out of timber and wood for a long time – we still do. But in England, they are all old stone – so they last a lot longer.

‘Everyone I speak to in the village has some kind of story to tell. Some like to keep them to themselves, but clearly have had some kind of experience.

‘We get people coming into our shop all the time telling us stories about your traditional grey ladies, or children ghosts. Quite often I hear about Roundheads, soldiers from the English Civil Wars, too.

‘One very common one we hear is about ghost monks, because there was once a Benedictine chapel in Dunster which was destroyed when Henry VIII was King.

‘People always say that they see or hear them. There is also apparently a ghost horse who haunts the hilltops around the village.

The churchyard too always has stories about people seeing ghosts there – but that is not very surprising. One businessman I spoke to even said that he can’t tell his staff about the ghost experiences he has had or they wouldn’t come to work.

‘Dunster is one of the best preserved mediaeval villages, and because it is so old I am not surprised people have so many ghost stories.’

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at [email protected] .

For more stories like this, check our news page .

MORE : One of Britain’s ‘most haunted’ villages is just two hours from London

MORE : Guests say this former funeral home is haunted — would I find proof of an after-life?

MORE : I went to Texas’ most haunted hotel and yes, I believe in ghosts now

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november, 2022

01 nov 6:20 pm Ghost Tours at Dunster Castle! Dare you join a chilling tour of the most haunted parts of the castle?

ghosts of dunster castle

Event Details

Ghost Tours at Dunster Castle Dare you join a chilling tour of the most haunted parts of the castle? Listen as your guide tells tales of ghosts and apparitions, leading

Ghost Tours at Dunster Castle

Dare you join a chilling tour of the most haunted parts of the castle?

Listen as your guide tells tales of ghosts and apparitions, leading the way through the castle, with a few surprises and scares along the way. Many of the historic houses that the National Trust look after, have their fair share of dark and grisly tales and Dunster Castle is no exception with many reports of ghostly sightings and sensations. Each ghost tour will be led by an guide who will relay a wealth of haunted tales from the castle’s long and fascinating history including recent reports of men’s voices and loud marching footsteps in areas of the castle known to be empty. Get ready to be scared, who knows what you may find in the dark?

Please Note:

  • Please meet at the Ticket Office at least 10 minutes before the tour is due to depart. Tours will leave on time.
  • Please wear sensible, flat shoes and come well wrapped up.
  • There is a steep hill leading up to the castle. Changes of levels, steep and uneven steps and confined spaces within the tour route, as well as low lighting levels.
  • The tours are recommended for ages 13 and over.
  • You will not be admitted or will be asked to leave if your behaviour is inappropriate i.e. under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Tickets are non-refundable.

Admission details:  Tickets £22.50, available at  https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/events/942ad337-4649-4c68-865d-fa3869e1c529/pages/details  or by calling 0344 249 1895

Address:  Dunster Castle, Dunster, Minehead, Somerset, TA24 6NY

Contact details:  Email:  [email protected]  Phone: 01643 821314

Opening times:  Tours take place on the 31 st  October and 1 st  November. Tours run from 6.20pm and last approximately 50 minutes

(Tuesday) 6:20 pm

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ghosts of dunster castle

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Every Home Has A Ghost: Haunting Stories From Dunster, Somerset

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A view of the supposedly haunted town of Dunster in Somerset. The ancient village of Dunster in Somerset is filled with stories of the undead stalking the houses, castle, pubs and hills. PHOTO BY TOM WREN/SWNS 

Welcome to Britain’s most haunted place where “every home has a ghost” – including the spirits of monks, soldiers, witches and animals.

The ancient village of Dunster in Somerset is filled with stories of the undead stalking the houses, castle, pubs and hills.

It was once home to a large Benedictine chapel which was destroyed when Henry VIII was King – which apparently saw it flooded with ghosts.

Some locals say almost every building is haunted – by everything from Civil War troops to “gray ladies” and horses.

Locals have today described the various spooky goings on in Dunster.

Sues Toogood, 55, a pharmacy dispenser, bought a cottage there.

ghosts of dunster castle

She said: “It was a wreck, the heating didn’t work at all and a tiny fireplace was the only source of heat.

”I soon realized that all the smoke from the fire was coming out of a crack in the chimney in the upstairs bedroom.

”I had nowhere else to go so I slept in the spare room.

“In the early hours of the morning I woke up in the middle of the night to voices. I was a bit scared at first but I walked through and realized it was the radio.

”It was a battery radio that I had put out for the builders. I thought it was strange but I switched it off and went back to bed, but then it happened again the next night.

”I realized that if I had stayed asleep I might not have woken up because of the smoke and carbon monoxide coming in from the other room.

“I felt like the ghost was saving me from dying, it was a kind presence. I truly believe the ghost was saving me.”

Local Carol Bowden added: “My husband and I have been coming to stay in the village for years and our dachshund Doogle was only a puppy.

”For the first four days we would walk down to the river past the mound and he would start barking at the trees, although he couldn’t see anything.

“Also when we were in the little snug of the hotel he would start barking at the mantel piece which wasn’t like him as he was usually quite a calm dog.

”The following night it happened again, and the receptionist said the old lady stands there by the mantle place at that time.

“The manager then asked where the dog had been barking and I said about the mound and he said that was where the roundhead and cavaliers were buried.”

Janie Deeming, 59 and Nigel Deeming, 57, run the 15th century Stags Head Inn, the oldest pub in Dunster, which has it own resident ghost.

Janie said: “Nearly every building in Dunster is believed to have a ghost or two.

“The house that we live in is very active, and we’ve only just managed to settle it down.

”I nearly didn’t move in here because they gave me merry hell, but now they’ve started to work with me rather than against me.

“Before we moved here five months ago we stayed in a particular house in the area, and the last time we went, let’s just say the spirits were awake.

“On the first night, a door on the dresser clicked open, and we didn’t think much of it but then it opened two or three more times.

”I then put my hand on it to keep it closed, and it pushed back, and I knew that wasn’t normal.

“The next night a book flew off the bookshelf and fell open on a ghost story, and we all joked about it, but later that night when I was washing up, I could feel a presence behind me.

“We fell in love with Dunster and I love my house. I’ve managed to bring the spirits on my side, but it took some work.”

Benedict Yeandle, 56, said: ”When I first moved in, for the first six weeks we had things happening, and customers would always notice it.

“A smell of smoke could always be smelt even though there was no explanation for it, and one day a can of coke flew from one side of the room to the other, completely intact, just with a small dent in it.

“I think whatever is living with me in here is a female, because it has only happened when I’ve employed female staff to work for me.

”I’m a bachelor and I think it got a little bit jealous. But now there hasn’t been any women coming here, she’s settled down.”

Local author Nina Dodd, 66, has written a book ‘Witches, Giants and a Ghost Cat’ – a “travel guide to the mystery tales of Dunster.”

Nina moved there twelve years ago from her native Finland and has become fascinated by the English ‘obsession’ with ghosts.

The author, who runs her own “Dunster Living” store with her husband on the village’s high street, says that she constantly hears stories from locals.

She said: “I started researching this book years ago after hearing stories about how haunted Dunster is.

“I find the British fascination with ghosts very interesting. In Finland, we do not have anywhere near as many ghost stories or ‘haunted’ places.

“I think a big part of it is that England has so many older homes and buildings. In Finland, we built our homes out of timber and wood for a long time – we still do. But in England, they are all old stone – so they last a lot longer.

“Everyone I speak to in the village has some kind of story to tell. Some like to keep them to themselves, but clearly have had some kind of experience.

ghosts of dunster castle

“We get people coming into our shop all the time telling us stories about your traditional grey ladies, or children ghosts. Quite often I hear about Roundheads, soldiers from the English Civil Wars, too.

“One very common one we hear is about ghost monks, because there was once a Benedictine chapel in Dunster which was destroyed when Henry VIII was King.

“People always say that they see or hear them. There is also apparently a ghost horse who haunts the hilltops around the village.

“The churchyard too always has stories about people seeing ghosts there – but that is not very surprising. One businessman I spoke to even said that he can’t tell his staff about the ghost experiences he has had or they wouldn’t come to work.

“Dunster is one of the best preserved medieval villages, and because it is so old I am not surprised people have so many ghost stories.”

Produced in association with SWNS Talker

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Dunster Castle facts for kids

Dunster Castle is a former motte and bailey castle, now a country house , in the village of Dunster, Somerset , England. The castle lies on the top of a steep hill called the Tor, and has been fortified since the late Anglo-Saxon period. After the Norman conquest of England in the 11th century, William de Mohun constructed a timber castle on the site as part of the pacification of Somerset. A stone shell keep was built on the motte by the start of the 12th century, and the castle survived a siege during the early years of the Anarchy . At the end of the 14th century the de Mohuns sold the castle to the Luttrell family, who continued to occupy the property until the late 20th century.

The castle was expanded several times by the Luttrell family during the 17th and 18th centuries; they built a large manor house within the Lower Ward of the castle in 1617, and this was extensively modernised, first during the 1680s and then during the 1760s. The medieval castle walls were mostly destroyed following the siege of Dunster Castle at the end of the English Civil War , when Parliament ordered the defences to be slighted to prevent their further use. In the 1860s and 1870s, the architect Anthony Salvin was employed to remodel the castle to fit Victorian tastes; this work extensively changed the appearance of Dunster to make it appear more Gothic and Picturesque.

Following the death of Alexander Luttrell in 1944, the family was unable to afford the death duties on his estate. The castle and surrounding lands were sold off to a property firm, the family continuing to live in the castle as tenants. The Luttrells bought back the castle in 1954, but in 1976 Colonel Walter Luttrell gave Dunster Castle and most of its contents to the National Trust , which operates it as a tourist attraction . It is a Grade I listed building and scheduled monument .

11th to 12th centuries

English civil war and the restoration, 18th century, 19th and 20th centuries.

Dunster Castle was positioned on a steep, 200-foot (61 m) high hill, sometimes called the Tor, overlooking the village of Dunster in Somerset . During the early medieval period the sea reached the base of the hill, close to the mouth of the River Avill , offering a natural defence and making the village an inland port. Several Iron Age hillforts were built close to Dunster, including Bat's Castle , Black Ball Camp and Grabbist Hill, but the earliest evidence of a fortification at Dunster was an Anglo-Saxon burgh . This was built on the summit of the hill and was possibly intended to protect the region against sea-borne raiders; by the mid-11th century it was controlled by a local nobleman called Aelfric.

Dunster Castle map

In 1066 the Normans invaded south-east England , defeating the English forces at the battle of Hastings : in the aftermath of the victory, William the Conqueror entrusted the conquest of the south-west of England to his half-brother Robert of Mortain. Expecting stiff resistance, Robert marched west into Somerset, supported by forces under Walter of Douai , who entered from the north; a third force, under the command of William de Mohun , landed by sea along the Somerset coast. William had been granted 68 manors in the region and by 1086 had established a castle at Dunster; this would form both the caput , or principal castle, for his new lands, and help guard the coast against the threat of any fresh sea-borne attack, as well as controlling the coastal road running from Somerset to Gloucestershire . This first castle was a motte and bailey design, built upon the former Anglo-Saxon burgh ; the top of the Tor was scarped to form the motte, or Upper Ward, and an area below shaped to form the bailey, or Lower Ward.

Somerset became more stable in the aftermath of the post-invasion period and the unsuccessful 1068 rebellion against Norman rule. It was common in the period for the Normans to build religious houses to accompany major castles, and accordingly William de Mohun endowed a Benedictine priory at Dunster in 1090, along with its parent abbey at Bath . The River Avill was important for trade; the region around Dunster was rich with fisheries and vineyards , and Dunster Castle prospered. Stone fortifications were built on the site during the early 12th century, probably forming a shell keep around the top of the motte.

In the late 1130s England began to descend into a period of civil war known as the Anarchy , during which the supporters of King Stephen fought with those of the Empress Matilda for control of the kingdom. William de Mohun's eldest son, also called William, was a noted supporter of Matilda, and Dunster was considered one of her faction's strongest castles in the south-west. In 1138 forces loyal to Stephen besieged the castle; a siege castle was built nearby, but all trace of it has been lost. William successfully held the castle and was made the Earl of Somerset by the grateful Empress. Chroniclers complained of the way in which he subsequently raided and controlled the region by force during the war, causing much destruction. In the aftermath of the conflict, William's son, another William, inherited the castle after a short period of royal ownership under Henry II . William appears to have insisted that his tenants agree to help repair and maintain the castle walls as part of their feudal service.

13th to 17th centuries

The gatehouse, Dunster Castle - geograph.org.uk - 1215242

In the 13th century the Lower Ward was rebuilt in stone by Reynold Mohun; this was paid for in part by Reynold commuting his tenants' ongoing duty to repair the castle walls into a single, one-off financial payment to their lord, and partially through his marriage to a rich local heiress. A survey of the castle in 1266 described the Upper Ward on the top of the motte as containing a hall with a buttery, a pantry, a kitchen, a bakehouse, the chapel of Saint Stephen and a knight's hall, guarded by three towers. The Lower Ward included a granary , two towers and a gatehouse; one of the towers, called the Fleming Tower, was used as a prison. The castle stables lay outside the defences, further down the slope. By the end of the 13th century some of the castle's roofing had been covered in lead, while other parts still used wooden shingles.

In 1330 Sir John de Mohun inherited the castle; John, although a notable knight, was childless and fell into considerable debt. His wife Joan took over the running of their estates, and when John died in 1376 she agreed to sell the castle to Lady Elizabeth Luttrell, the leading member of another major Norman family, for 5,000 marks, with the castle to transfer to Elizabeth on Joan's death. At some point during this period additional stone buildings were constructed along the Lower Ward, on the side of the current mansion, and records suggest that a ditch, or moat , may have existed around the base of the Tor in the 14th century.

Joan outlived Elizabeth, and in the event Sir Hugh Luttrell, who was Henry V's seneschal in Normandy , finally took over the castle on Joan's death in 1404. The castle had suffered from a lack of investment during the final years of the Mohan's ownership, and Luttrell repaired and extended the castle at a cost of £252, constructing the Great Gatehouse and a barbican between 1419 and 1424. The new entrance lay at right-angles to the old and was three storeys high, built of imported Bristol red sandstone , and contained extensive apartments; it formed a grand, if ill-defended, ceremonial route into the castle. The castle was reroofed with Cornish stone tiles. By the 15th century the sea had receded, and the Luttrells created a deer park for the castle at Marshwood. Such a park would have been highly prestigious and allowed the Luttrells to engage in hunting , providing the castle with a supply of venison as well as generating income.

Plan of Dunster Castle, pre-1860s

During the 15th century, England was divided by the prolonged period of civil war now called the Wars of the Roses : the Luttrells were supporters of the House of Lancaster . In 1461, Sir James Luttrell died following the Lancastrian defeat at the Second Battle of St Albans , and his family were deprived of their estates by the Yorkist Edward IV . The castle was given to the Herberts, but the Luttrells regained it on the accession of the Lancastarian Henry VII in 1485, when Dunster was restored to James' son, Sir Hugh Luttrell. Hugh repaired the castle chapel and in the early 16th century his son, Sir Andrew Luttrell, built a new wall on the east side of the castle. Andrew's son Sir John Luttrell , who inherited the castle, was a famous soldier, diplomat , and courtier under Henry VIII and Edward VI , serving in France and in Scotland during the conflicts of the Rough Wooing. In 1542, the antiquarian John Leland reported the castle keep and buildings to be considerable disrepair, with the exception of the chapel, and after Sir John's death the castle was leased out for several years, first by his daughter, Mary, and then under his brother, Thomas.

By the time George Luttrell inherited the castle in 1571, it was dilapidated, with the family preferring to live in their house, now known as Court House, at East Quantoxhead. In 1617 George employed the architect William Arnold, to create a new house in the Lower Ward of the castle. Arnold was an important architect in the south-west of England, and had managed the building of nearby Montacute , Cranborne House and also Wadham College, Oxford . The redesign expanded on some of the existing buildings and walls to create a 16th-century Jacobean mansion with a symmetrical front and square towers, set within the older castle walls and overlooked by the keep above. The building was decorated in the latest styles, including ornamental plaster ceilings. The project ran almost three times over budget, costing Luttrell more than £1,200.

Dunster Castle gate

In the 1640s the English Civil War broke out between the supporters of King Charles I and Parliament . Thomas Luttrell, George's eldest son, initially supported Parliament and after the outbreak of war William Russell , the Duke of Bedford and Parliamentary commander in Devon and Somerset, ordered him to increase the garrison at Dunster to resist a potential Royalist attack. The Royalist commander William Seymour , the Duke of Somerset , attacked the castle in 1642 but was driven back by the garrison, led by Thomas' wife, Jane. The war in the south-west turned in favour of the King, and on 7 June 1643 the Royalists mustered forces to attack the castle again: this time Luttrell surrendered, switching sides to support the Royalists until his death the following February. Colonel Wyndham was appointed the Royalist governor of the castle. The young Prince Charles, the later Charles II , stayed at the castle in May 1645.

During 1645 the Royalist military cause largely collapsed, and Colonel Robert Blake led a Parliamentary force against Dunster in October. In November Blake began his siege of the castle, setting up his artillery in Dunster village and starting to dig tunnels to plant mines beneath the walls. The castle was briefly relieved by reinforcements in February 1646, but the siege was resumed and by April the Royalists situation was untenable – an honourable surrender was negotiated and a Parliamentary garrison installed. After the end of the Second English Civil War in 1649, however, Parliament decided to deliberately destroy, or slight , the defences of castles in key Royalist areas, including the south-west. In the case of Dunster, Thomas's son George Luttrell was able to convince the authorities to destroy only the medieval defensive walls, rather than the entire castle, leaving Dunster damaged from the recent siege but still habitable; the walls were demolished over 12 days in August 1650 by a team of 300 workmen. The only parts of the medieval walls to survive were the Great Gatehouse and the bases of the two towers in the Lower Ward.

George Luttrell died without children, and Dunster Castle passed to his brother Francis, who survived the political turmoil of both the Commonwealth years and the Restoration of Charles II to power in 1660. Francis' heir, another Francis, married a wealthy heiress worth £2,500 a year (£331,000 in 2009 values) and with this income set about modernising the castle during the 1680s, in particular building a grand staircase in the latest style. Francis was a colonel in the local militia and in 1688 backed William of Orange 's attempt to oust James II ; when William landed in Devon, Francis mustered a number of companies of infantry at Dunster on 19 November to support him, which formed the basis for the later Green Howards regiment. During this period the castle still kept an armoury of 43 muskets . Francis died heavily in debt in 1690, and his widow Mary moved the contents of the castle to London, where they were destroyed in a fire in 1696.

Dunster Castle 1733

At the start of the 18th century the Luttrells and Dunster Castle faced many financial challenges. Francis's son Alexander , inherited the castle when he came of age in 1704, but it was still mostly empty and carried large debts with it. Alexander died young in 1711 and his widow, Dorothy, spent almost twenty years paying off the debts. Dorothy built a new chapel, designed by Sir James Thornhill in white Portland stone , on the rear of the mansion at a cost of £1,300 (£178,000 at 2009 prices); few records of this remain, but the interior probably resembled that of the chapel at Wimpole Hall . A safer, if less grand, approach road to the castle was created, called the New Way, and the remains of the Upper Ward on top of the motte were flattened to be used as a bowling green, complete with an octagonal summer house. Dorothy's son, Alexander Luttrell , took over the castle in 1726 but ran up new debts, and the castle was handed over into the control of a receiver.

Henry Fownes Luttrell , who married Margaret , Alexander's daughter, and took the Luttrell name, moved to Dunster in 1747. The couple redesigned and redecorated the castle in a Rococo style, including the extensive use of the recently invented and highly fashionable wallpaper . Henry Luttrell raised the ground height of the Lower Ward between 1764 and 1765 to extend the New Way all around to the front of his mansion, adding additional ornamental towers onto the inside of the Great Gatehouse in the process. A folly , Conygar Tower , was constructed by architect Richard Phelps to improve the view from the castle, and a larger park of 141 hectares (348 acres) was built just to the south of the castle, requiring the eviction of a number of tenant farmers.

Justice Room, Dunster Castle

Henry's son, John, inherited the castle in 1780, but when his son, also called John, inherited in 1816 he chose to live in London instead, opening up Dunster Castle to the public. By 1845 the castle appeared to visitors to be past its prime: with only two of John's sisters living there and no horses or hunting dogs left in the castle grounds, the remaining servants had little to do. John's brother Henry inherited in 1857, but he too lived in London rather than at Dunster.

George Luttrell inherited the castle in 1867 and began an extensive modernisation, backed by the considerable income from the Dunster estates – in a period of agricultural boom in England, the estates were producing £22,000 in revenue a year (£1.49 million at 2010 prices). It was fashionable during the mid-Victorian period to remodel existing castles to produce what was felt to be a more consistent Gothic or sometimes Picturesque appearance and George, a keen historian, decided to follow this trend at Dunster; in the process, he also hoped to accommodate the larger household and facilities required for a 19th-century landowner: by 1881, the castle required 15 "living-in" servants alone. He employed Anthony Salvin, a noted architect then most famous for his work at Alnwick Castle , to carry out the work between 1868 and 1872 at a total cost of £25,350 (equivalent to £1.76 million in 2010). The work included the construction of an underground reservoir , holding 40,000 imperial gallons (180,000 L; 48,000 US gal) of water to provide running water for the castle and village.

Salvin aimed to create a castle that would appear to have grown up organically over time, but still appeal to Victorian aesthetic taste. Accordingly, a large, square tower was built on the west side of the castle and another smaller tower on the east, both creating additional space but also making the castle deliberately asymmetrical. The 18th-century chapel at the rear was demolished and replaced with another tower, alongside a modern conservatory. A variety of windows in the styles of different historical periods were inserted in the walls, while modern Victorian technology, including gas lighting-supported by a gas plant in the basement-central heating and new kitchens were installed within the castle. The roof of the Great Gatehouse was raised to create a more uniform sequence of battlements, and a large hall for gatherings of the local farmers installed. A new wing of servants' quarters and offices were sunk into the hill, spread over two floors leading away from the main part of the mansion.

Plan of Dunster Castle, post-1860s

Internally, Salvin knocked through existing rooms to create the Outer Hall, a new gallery on the first floor, a billiard room, a new library and a drawing room. Much of the wooden 17th-century panelling in the parlour and the hall had to be stripped out as part of the renovations. As part of his work, Salvin appears to have used a number of rolled wrought-iron beams to span the resulting structural gaps in the building, an advanced use of that technology for the time. The house was refurnished with newly bought 16th and 17th-century artwork, two brass Italian cannons and a stuffed polar bear .

Alexander Luttrell, who inherited Dunster Castle in 1910, chose to live at East Quantoxhead instead, and it was left empty until his son Geoffrey reoccupied the castle in 1920, redecorating some of the rooms in a contemporary style and building a polo ground alongside the castle. The castle and the surrounding countryside at this time was very popular with the Luttrells for fox hunting and shooting . During the Second World War the castle was used as a convalescent home for injured naval and American officers between 1943 and 1944.

Alexander died in 1944, and the death duties proved crippling to Geoffrey. In 1949 he sold the castle and 3,480 hectares (8,600 acres) of the lands to the Ashdale Property Company, retaining a tenancy of the castle for himself. The Crown Estate bought the estate from Ashdale and sold the castle back to Geoffrey in 1954. His son Colonel Walter Luttrell lived away from Dunster, and following the death of his mother – the last Luttrell to live in the property – gave the castle and most of its contents to the National Trust in 1976.

Dunster Castle frontage

Dunster Castle is operated by the National Trust as a tourist attraction . Little remains of the medieval castle except for the Great Gatehouse and the remains of several towers in the Lower Ward; the heart of the modern castle today is the much altered 17th-century manor house. The key features of the castle include the original 13th-century gates and several pieces of art, including a Tudor copy of Hans Eworth 's famous allegorical portrait of Sir John Luttrell, and a sequence of leather tapestries showing scenes from the story of Antony and Cleopatra . The castle also holds a piano that once belonged to the composer Vivian Ellis. The gardens surrounding the castle cover approximately 6 hectares (15 acres) and include the National Plant Collection of Strawberry Trees ; the wider parkland beyond totals 277 hectares (680 acres).

Just to the south of the castle is the restored 18th-century castle watermill . In 2017 the castle received 209,245 visitors. Dunster Castle has been designated by English Heritage as a Grade I listed building and Scheduled Ancient Monument . The castle has required continuing maintenance work, in particular to its roof, itself an important historical feature. Efforts have been made to gradually redecorate the castle in a period style, using reproductions of original wallpapers and materials. The National Trust installed solar panels behind the battlements on the roof in 2008 to provide electricity and make the premises more environmentally friendly. This was the first time the National Trust have taken this approach to a Grade I listed building, and it is expected to save 1,714 kg (3,778 lb) of carbon a year. In 2015, the National Trust announced plans to make the 19th-century reservoir open to the public, and the reservoir was formally opened for viewing in April 2016.

  • This page was last modified on 26 October 2023, at 08:05. Suggest an edit .

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COMMENTS

  1. Dunster Castle: Where Terrifying Phantoms Roam

    Nevertheless, even among castles, Dunster is a particular hotbed for hauntings. It would seem that many restless spirits reside within, even today. Dunster Castle Hauntings. Among the most common stories is of the man in green. In the 17 th Century, a stable block was added to the castle, where today a shop stands.

  2. Dunster Castle Ghost

    Dunster Castle Ghost has made an ineffaceable mark on visitors who were curious enough to visit Dunster Castle and experience the horror for themselves. The strategically situated castle provides picturesque views of the Avill Valley and the scenic hills and valleys of Exmoor National Park in Somerset.But not everything that is beautiful and presents a picture of serenity holds a spotless history.

  3. Dunster Castle: A guide to ghosts spotted in the historic fortress

    The Trust explains: "Dunster Castle is full of ghosts and those that work at this ancient Norman fortress report many strange experiences. "These range from peculiar sensations, inexplicable events and sightings of ghostly figures, to other, sinister sensations that sometimes seem only perceptible to dogs."

  4. Unveiling Dunster Castle's Ghostly Secrets With Most Haunted ...

    A National Trust property with a rich history stretching back to the medieval era, Dunster Castle recently became the focus of a ghost hunting event hosted by Most Haunted Experience (MHE), attended by 'Most Haunted' stars Karl Beattie and Stuart Torevell. Dunster Castle, with its long lineage of the Luttrell family who converted the medieval ...

  5. 9 Dunster ghost tales that prove it's one of the spookiest places on

    Dunster Castle on Exmoor has a reputation for eerie goings on and with 1,000 years of it has plenty of great stories to tell. ... Perhaps the most unusual ghost story from Dunster concerns the ...

  6. Historic Dunster Castle among UK's most haunted and has an 'eerie man

    Dunster Castle has been ranked one of the most haunted places in the UK (Image: Getty) Over the years, visitors have reported seeing an 'eerie man in green' walking through a Somerset's ...

  7. Discover Dunster Castle and Medieval Village

    Ghosts of Dunster Castle. Dunster Castle has its fair share of ghosts, and paranormal stories, after all there has been a settlement here since the Iron Age! The crypt within the castle has a cold, dark and eerie atmosphere, and if you venture inside, you can sit and listen to the ghostly tales told by member of the Luttrel family, and their ...

  8. Dunster Castle

    The ghosts of Somerset's Dunster Castle are from all ages and of all types. THE CHINK OF GHOSTLY COINS AND THE VANISHING ROUNDHEAD. DUNSTER CASTLE CASTLE. HOME; INTRODUCTION; ABOUT; ... The direct male line of the family died out in 1376, and ownership of Dunster Castle passed to Lady Elizabeth Luttrell whose descendents owned it for almost six ...

  9. Dunster Castle

    Visit the crypt and learn about the ghosts of Dunster Castle… if you're feeling brave enough! Sometimes it's hard to tell why you feel like you've stepped back in time on Exmoor to a fairytale land vaguely familiar from a childhood daydream or mediaeval story… However, when in Dunster, these feelings can more obviously be explained.

  10. Dunster Castle

    Dunster Castle is a former motte and bailey castle, now a country house, in the village of Dunster, Somerset, England.The castle lies on the top of a steep hill called the Tor, and has been fortified since the late Anglo-Saxon period. After the Norman conquest of England in the 11th century, William de Mohun constructed a timber castle on the site as part of the pacification of Somerset.

  11. Dunster Castle: Between Living History and Phantom Whispers

    Discover the charm and mystery of Dunster Castle. Step into the past and encounter the famed Dunster Castle ghost in this enthralling experience.

  12. Paranormal Britain

    Paranormal Britain offers an insight into some of the most haunted locations in Britain and beyond! Dunster Castle in Somerset, now owned by the National Tru...

  13. The Hauntings of Dunster Castle, Somerset

    Dunster Castle is situated high on a hill, overlooking the medieval town of Dunster and is on the north east boundary of Exmoor National Park in Somerset. The castle's history spans over a 1,000 years so as you may imagine, it has had some very spooky experiences happen within its walls. The castle and grounds are now run by the National Trust ...

  14. Haunted Wiltshire: Dunster Castle

    The Ghosts of Dunster Castle Ghostly sightings have been reported at Dunster for hundreds of years. Probably the most famous of the castle's ghosts and the one most frequently seen is the 'Grey Lady' and on occasion the 'Foot Guard;' a shadowy figure who wears a tricorn hat. The Grey Lady especially, has been seen so many times that ...

  15. Tales of ghosts in the West Somerset village of Dunster

    Janie and Nigel Deeming run the 15th century Stags Head Inn, which has a resident ghost. Janie said: "Nearly every building in Dunster is believed to have a ghost or two. "The house that we ...

  16. Dare to enter the dungeon of Dunster Castle this Halloween

    If you're looking for a spooky adventure this Halloween, join the candlelit ghost tours of Dunster Castle and discover its dark and grisly secrets. 5 September 2023. By Lewis Clarke. Uncover the creepy tales, unused corridors and dark corners of Dunster Castle with two nights of candlelit, late night guided tours.

  17. WE SAW A REAL GHOST. HALLOWEEN AT THE CASTLE. DAY WITH ...

    Join us for a day out at dunster castle.We had a great first day of half term, we wrapped up warm and met with friends to take on the Halloween trail at duns...

  18. Dunster Castle Ghosts! I will share what happened in a full ...

    I know viewers are hoping that I'll share my wierdo experience at the very haunted Dunster Castle and I will in the future. But to do the Castle and its ghos...

  19. Dunster Castle

    Dunster Castle is a beautiful medieval castle located in the village of Dunster. This ancient castle highlights the place and presents visitors with dramatic vistas and subtropical gardens. It is a Grade I listed building operated by the National Trust as a tourist attraction.

  20. We live in Britain's most haunted village where every home has a ghost

    It's Dunster in Somerset. Sitting on the edge of Exmoor National Park, close to the coast and not far from Minehead, Dunster is a tiny village with a castle and plenty of old buildings. And ...

  21. Ghost Tours at Dunster Castle!

    Ghost Tours at Dunster Castle. Dare you join a chilling tour of the most haunted parts of the castle? Listen as your guide tells tales of ghosts and apparitions, leading the way through the castle, with a few surprises and scares along the way. Many of the historic houses that the National Trust look after, have their fair share of dark and ...

  22. Every Home Has A Ghost: Haunting Stories From Dunster, Somerset

    Welcome to Britain's most haunted place where "every home has a ghost" - including the spirits of monks, soldiers, witches and animals. The ancient village of Dunster in Somerset is filled with stories of the undead stalking the houses, castle, pubs and hills. It was once home to a large Benedictine chapel which was destroyed when Henry ...

  23. Dunster Castle Facts for Kids

    Dunster Castle is a former motte and bailey castle, now a country house, in the village of Dunster, Somerset, England.The castle lies on the top of a steep hill called the Tor, and has been fortified since the late Anglo-Saxon period. After the Norman conquest of England in the 11th century, William de Mohun constructed a timber castle on the site as part of the pacification of Somerset.