Saturday, September 16, 2006

The Smallest Castle Ever!

The photo above was taken on a recent day out and is of Nunney Castle. I am a member of a group called 'English Heritage' who maintain many historical sites and structures accross England and so we decided to visit this castle which is one they look after. From the picture in the brochure it looked rather substantial, having a moat and towers and so we set off on the 2 hour drive there. We had to laugh when we got there though as it was only the size of a very large house which came as a bit of a surprise! Well, we walked around it twice in opposite directions and went inside but it didn't take up much time and so we had lunch and went to Glasonbury as well, but I'll save that for another post.

Anyway, as you can see from the photo above it was quite an interesting little castle. Built c1373 by John DeLa Mare, Nunney Castle was designed with a strong French influence, probably obtained from its veteran owners exploits during the Hundred-Year War. Nunney Castle consists of a rectangular Tower House with large drum towers at each corner. The curtain wall between the southwest and northeast towers is so short (approx. 1m) that the towers appear to be virtually joined together.

Nunney Castle is surrounded by a moat, which was restored in the early part of the 20th century. Originally this would have been far more substantial, with water extending to the castle walls. Accommodation was arranged with a kitchen on the ground floor, where remains of a large fire place and side oven are still visible, and storage facilities in the base of the towers with a well at one end. Servants quarters were on the first floor of the tower, with the Great Hall and Lord's Solar occupying the 2nd and 3rd floors respectively. The upper storeys of the towers would have provided additional accommodation, and a Chapel was located at the top of the southwest tower.

Little is known of Nunney Castle's history and it appears to have been largely uneventful. The most notable chapter seems to have been during the Civil War when it was besieged by Cromwell's troops, but capitulated within two days. Never designed to withstand cannon, the north wall was soon breached above the entrance, the hole remaining until 1910 when the bulk of the wall to collapsed. This resulted in the great void that is a prominent feature of Nunney Castle today. After the Civil War, Nunney Castle's roof was removed to render it uninhabitable, and so it has remained ever since.


OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

All these Castles are so interesting to me....I guess because we don't have anything like this in the U.S. Nothing that is this old...And certainly nothing that needed a Moat....(At least, nothing I know of...! lol)
The history of Castles and the need to build something that would be so protective.....I guess the only things I can think of, off hand here, would be The Forts that were built in the West...but not really like the Castles you speak of and show pictures of...truly Fascinating.

mar said...

Interesting.I always thought all castles were huge... But when I am traveling I am often surprised to find relatively "small" buildings or constructions. But now that I think of it, the only castle we have in our community is tiny! But it belongs to the community so it is being restored. Nice shots!

Zeus said...

To me, this castle still looks huge, but I suppose as you have much experience with these structures, I will trust you when you say it is small! I agree with Old Lady of the Hills: The only true comparison we could make here in the United States would be either the forts of our Civil War or the Pueblo communities in our Southwest with their inherent fortifications.

Completely fascinating as always, Ms. Bobkat!

mar said...
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OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

Thanks for the visit! There always seem to be at least one if not 10 "Emporer's New"....I never got Basquiet, either....! (lol)

Cute Engineer Bint said...

Oh would you look at that - that be the pretiest lheng louh castle i ever did see! You surely got the nicest in the whole 'verse, what with the moats an all. Reminds me of Earth That Was.