A classic motte and bailey castle from Norman times, today Totnes Castle is owned and cared for by English Heritage. With fantastic, panoramic views across Totnes and down to the River Dart from its keep, Totnes Castle provides an interesting and informative day out for all the family – including dogs!
THE HISTORY OF TOTNES CASTLE
Totnes Castle was originally a timber and earthwork structure, thought to have been built by Juhel, a commander in William the Conqueror’s army. It has been owned by various people throughout history: Henry, son of the Earl of Cornwall, the de la Zouche family, and Sir Richard Edgecombe of Cotehele.
The castle keep was not added until the thirteenth century. Its purpose was to crown the mound, and it had to be rebuilt later on. The keep that exists today is this restoration. Still well preserved, it retains its original arrow slits and battlements.
The views from the top of the castle keep are far-reaching and picturesque - climb the steps up to the top of the keep and see if you can spot Totnes High Street and Poultry Walk, where there was once a market place.
The bailey and courtyard of the castle are now grassy areas, providing plenty of space for younger visitors to play in. Many years ago, however, they would have been bustling with life as the living quarters of the Garrison. There is a tree in the bailey which World War II prisoners carved their names into, and a Holm Oak - an ancient tree thought to be over 150 years old. On sunny days, archery targets are set up inside the bailey for visitors to practice their aim on.
Walk the moat around the outside wall of the castle – a steep ditch which would once have served to defend the castle from invasion – and enjoy a picnic in the quiet grounds; bring a blanket or sit at one of the picnic benches provided.
Be sure to visit the castle shop before you head home, and take home a souvenir of your trip, beautiful jewellery or perhaps some delicious, locally made jam or chutney. Snacks and cold drinks are also available in the shop.
Child (5-15 years)
Students & Over 60s
Family (2a + up to 3c)