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Berry Pomeroy Castle

On a recent trip to the UK, my husband and I found ourselves staying with friends in the absolutely stunning english fishing town of Sidmouth; located on the beautiful Devon coastline. After settling in we were ready for a road trip and a little sightseeing outside of town.

I wanted old – old crumbling castles nestled in corners, away and forgotten. “Nope, nothing like that around here that we know of” say our friends who’ve lived in the area for most of their lives. I however wasn’t convinced so I consulted google (google knows everything). Low and behold, there’s over 20 within a 40 km radius. Now listen, I get it. Where you live becomes your norm and we all forget about exploring our own backyard. I’m totally guilty of this same practice in my own life here in Ontario.

We obviously couldn’t see all 20 sites so we each chose one site. The hubs chose Berry Pomeroy Castle (I chose Okehampton Castle which will be discussed in another post).

Berry Pomeroy Castle stands ever so slightly tucked away from the village of Berry Pomeroy situated in the South Hams district of Devon. Out of the ruined castles we visited that day, Berry Pomeroy was absolutely the most impactful. I base this on it’s size – it’s very grand, it’s integrity – for ruins it is very much intact, the absolutely stunning surrounding countryside – truly breathtaking, and finally the sheer spookiness of the place – it has a real haunted vibe about it and I could never imagine being there alone at night.

Spookiness aside, Berry Pomeroy Castle is also an extremely romantic property. Originally a tudor Mansion with a “newer” castle built around it, this property dates back to the late 15th century. The grounds are impeccably maintained by English Heritage staff and upon entering the property, with one look at the front entrance, you’re almost immediately whisked away into one of your childhood storybooks. I believe it’s one of the most common images we see in our minds when we think castle; however it’s not a common site to stand in front of, literally. Now grab your princess hat at the gift shop and get ready for your first tour.

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The entrance to the castle. This is your first glance of the property from your walk at the very shaded car park. There’s a washroom near the gift shop and a cafe. The cafe is closed on Mondays… we visited on a Monday.

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At one time this castle had a huge iron gate which was hoisted up and down here. This made me very excited!

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No matter what structure in any era throughout history (other than the last 100 years) I find it incredible how those before us built massive structures out of stone.

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Entrance to the gatehouse.

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Again with the stone. It’s a cool photo but look at the thickness of these walls. Imagine the effort to carve that one little window!

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Loads of creepy staircases. It was a perfect english day, the skies were grey and there was a soft rainy mist floating through the air. As the rain water pooled in all the crevices of the stone, you could hear the echoes of their drips as you descended deeper into the castle. This effect really added to the bad dreams I was slowly hatching during the tour.

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This wall mural was discovered in the late 1970’s and depicts the Adoration of the Magi. It was revealed after restoration efforts removed a wall of vegetation. The mural dates to about 1490. #CRAZY

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I love the light in this photo. It really gives a sense of a “dark age” and how these people really did live with very little light in their homes.

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Nature claims structure.

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A massive chimney in one of many kitchens. Imagine the food needed to cook for a household of this size!

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The audio tour put out by English Heritage is worth a listen. They’ve done a good job with keeping it short, sweet, and theatrical.

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By this time, your audio tour should be deep into stories of the Blue Lady and White Lady. The two resident ghosts who haunt the property on a frequent basis. These stories are not hard to dismiss as you’re touring the grounds. I wasn’t at all surprised that that Berry Pomeroy Castle owns the reputation of being one of the most haunted castles in England.

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Another massive chimney.

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It was on this walk, around the back right of the property, that I felt most lost and in awe of where I was. It was incredibly peaceful and incredibly beautiful.

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I didn’t take any photos of the surrounding countryside, these milkweeds are as close as I got. However it really was something special and if it wasn’t raining I would’ve gone exploring the ethereal woods. I guess somethings are meant for our own self discovery and memories.

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Before you leave Berry Pomeroy you have to take a quick jaunt around the actual village. Don’t blink because you’ll miss it but if you have time I highly recommend stopping at St. Mary’s Parish Church (above).

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The doors were locked so we couldn’t see inside but the grounds were enough and a good accompaniment to the castle down the road.

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There’s a stained glass window in this church that dates back to the 1500’s. Without knowing for sure, my guess this it. The church actually had it’s time to shine as the location for the final wedding scene in Ang Lee’s Sense and Sensibility. Apologies for the poor clip, you can’t see much but you get the idea!


Posted on September 24th, by Catherine Mombourquette in travel portfolios.

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