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Nether Stowey Castle

Visited May 2019

Location Nether Stowey, Somerset
Entrance Fee No 
Railway Station Nearby No 
Parking Yes - free car park in village
Facilities In village


A large motte is all that is left of this once large castle. It is has free access and makes a good walk on a fine day.








The castle was built in the 12th century by the Norman Lord Alfred of Spain. The motte is of  natural rock and had a large square keep on the top, the outline of which can be seen today. It was part of a line of castles in Somerset which included nearby Stogursey Castle . The motte had two baileys associated with it, and had a chapel and pottery kiln within the site although there is nothing left of these two buildings either.


It is thought that the castle had ceased in importance by the 14th century, but was finally destroyed in the 15th century as its owner Lord Audley supported the Perkin Warbeck uprising against the King in 1497. He lost his head as a consequence, and the castle was slighted. 






Once the castle had disappeared, the mound itself was used for cock fighting, bear baiting, illegal gambling and boxing. It was also a regular haunt of the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge who lived in Nether Stowey for three years between 1797-1800. He often went on rambles up the mount with his friend William Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy, taking in the views and the nature around them.


The modern day visitor will be more or less looking at the same views as Coleridge. The mound is quite steep and takes a bit of effort to climb. There is no set path but more of a  beaten down trail where others have gone before. We went in late spring and the mound was quite overgrown, it was hard to define the outline of the keep foundations, although we have seen pictures where the dents in the ground are much easier to make out. Maybe early spring when the vegetation is not quite so profuse is better for this.


The views from the top of the motte are far-reaching, we made out Glastonbury Tor in the distance (some 25 miles away) In contrast to the sight of the ancient Tor on the horizon is the much closer and much less attractive view of Hinkley Point nuclear power station. That view has certainly changed since Coleridge's day! None of this seemed to bother the sheep grazing on the castle mound & watching us with some suspicion. Be warned- the motte is covered with sheep deposits, so wear appropriate shoes.





Once you have conquered the climb and taken in the views, the walk back down from the castle is pleasant and the village of Nether Stowey is certainly picturesque. Its main high street has quaint cottages and gardens and an open watercourse running along it. The other attraction here is Coleridge Cottage, owned by the National Trust. It is a museum dedicated to the poet, and has been furnished as it would have been in the 1790s when he was in residence here. It is very hands-on for children, and has a decent tea shop and lovely garden. We then had our lunch over the road in the pub called 'The Ancient Mariner', in a nod to Coleridge's great work.





More info: Nether Stowey Castle

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