Tucked away just outside a village of the same name in Devon is Berry Pomeroy Castle. This castle is quite unique in many ways. The land was first awarded to Ralph de Pomeroy by William the Conqueror as a reward for his loyalty during the Norman invasion and the Battle of Hastings. Some sources claim the construction of the castle began in the late 15th century and some the late 14th. English Heritage, who now owns and runs the site, claims 15th. The Pomeroys fell into debt and the land and the castle were sold to Edward Seymour, the first Duke of Somerset, in 1547.
(In the event you are wondering if Edward Seymour is the same family as Jane Seymour, wife of Henry VIII, then yes, Edward Seymour was her eldest brother. He was also Lord Protector of Henry VIII’s only son with Jane Seymour.)
Seymour began a project in the hopes of making the family home there one of the greatest in England, and if you look at the photos of the front of the castle, you can see what remains of the Seymour house to the right.
Seymour was executed by the crown in 1552 and his lands for a time were forfeit, yet they were later re-instated to the family. The Seymour family remained at Berry Pomeroy until the late 17th century when the castle was abandoned when the current owner, Sir Edward Seymour (fourth Baronet) moved to Wiltshire.
The ruins of Berry Pomeroy Castle were rather popular in the late 18th century when the Romantic era favoured castles and other structures beaten down by rain and time. Berry Pomeroy during this time was overgrown with ivy and commonly visited by artists and even illustrations of the place were featured in books of the era.
Now, Berry Pomeroy still sits in the same valley. It is no longer covered by ivy, but surrounded by a thick wood to the rear of the property. Guard rails and other protective measures allow tourists to walk through what is left of the structure and there is still a portcullis and you can see where hot liquids could be poured down on any attacking enemy.
For those who enjoy haunted sites. Berry Pomeroy is said to be haunted by a number of ghosts and supposedly one of the most haunted castles in Britain. The “White Lady” is said to haunt the dungeons. She rises from there to St. Margaret’s Tower when she is seen. It is thought she is the ghost of Margaret Pomeroy. Margaret had the misfortune of loving the same man as her sister Eleanor. Because Margaret was more beautiful, Eleanor locked her in the dungeon until she starved to death.
Another spectre, is the Blue Lady. She beckons help from passers-by and lures them into one of the towers where the unsuspecting helper falls to their death (thank goodness we didn’t see her!). It is suspected she is the daughter of a Norman Lord who wanders the dungeons mourning the loss of her baby, which it is said she murdered.
There is also the story of the Pomeroy brothers, who were besieged in the castle; however, rather than accepting defeat, they donned their full amour, mounted their horses, and leapt from the castle ramparts. This part of the castle is still called “Pomeroy’s leap.” It is claimed the ghosts of the two brothers have been spotted here.
Berry Pomeroy is not far from Torquay, but once you turn off the main road, it is a lot of little one-laned roads. I am still bummed I missed a photo of the church from the end of Emma Thompson’s Sense and Sensibility. I was driving when I came to the end of one of those tiny roads, looked up, and there it was. I thought I would catch it on the way back, but the GPS/SatNav took us a completely different route. Figures!
Next: Tintagel, Cornwall
Image of Berry Pomeroy Church: Image Copyright Paul Hutchinson. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic Licence. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/ or send a letter to Creative Commons, 171 Second Street, Suite 300, San Francisco, California, 94105, USA
2 thoughts on “Berry Pomeroy”
Thank you Leslie that was very interesting. I am particularly interested in the Tudor era so would very much like to visit where the Seymours lived
I’m so glad you enjoyed it. Thanks, Michelle!