The long and eventful history of Dunster Castle starts with the de Mohuns who arrived soon after William the Conqueror became King of England in 1066. William de Mohun constructed a timber castle on the site of a Saxon hill fort as part of the pacification of Somerset.

Nothing remains of the de Mohuns’ castle except the 13th century lower level gateway with its massive iron-bound oak doors. In the 1470s the bill for repairing the castle gateway was just £1 and it was clearly money well spent as the doors are still in good order today. The medieval castle was fortified by a stone curtain wall and bastion towers along the north side of the lower ward. One such bastion tower remains to this day, although in a semi-ruined state as the wall was demolished by Oliver Cromwell’s men in 1650 at the end of the English Civil War. The owner at that time George Luttrell, thankfully managed to persuade parliament to let him keep his family home.

Alexander Luttrell inherited the estate in 1910 until his death in 1944. The estate was liable for an enormous amount of inheritance tax. The size of the bill left his son Geoffrey little option but to sell the castle and the estate. The Luttrell family became tenants of their historic home until 1954 when they were able to buy back the castle and grounds, this time opened to the public. When Geoffrey died in 1957 his wife remained at the castle until her death in 1974. Her son, Walter gave Dunster Castle to the National Trust in 1976.

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