MSO9432 - Conygar Tower, Dunster (Building)


A circular hollow tower built as a folly in the late 18th Century to enhance the landscape around Dunster Castle. It was designed by Richard Phelps.

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Type and Period (2)

Protected Status

Full Description

[SS 9918 4410] Conygar Tower [NAT] [1] A hollow tower and other artificial ruins were built on Conygar Hill in about 1775. [2] Conygar Tower is a navigator's aid and prospect tower of two four-windowed storeys [2, 3] Conygar Tower, Grade II. Erected in 1775. Folly. (For full description see list.) [4] Built c.1760-70 as part of the 18th century improvements of Dunster Castle. [6] Conygar Tower lies on the southwest edge of a small hill immediately to the north of Dunster, at SS 9918 4410. The tower is circular, and 7.9 metres in diameter with walls of mortared local stone some 0.8 metres thick. It is hollow, ie there are no internal features, floors or roof. The top of the walls are crenallated. The tower has three sets of arched windows, which decrease in size as the tower ascends. The windows give a panoramic view of the surrounding country and sea. The tower was approached by a ruined gatehouse, some 500 metres to the northwest (MSO9477). [7] Conygar Tower was built around 1775. It was designed by Richard Phelps to enhance the landscape around Dunster Castle, which was then owned by H F Luttrell. It cost £76 11s 1/2d to build, £4 2s 6d in scrumpy for the workmen, and an entertainment when it was complete cost £2 5s. [8] Erected in 1775. Folly. Embattled circular random rubble red sandstone shell. Three storeys, four pointed-arched openings to each floor with two-stage buttresses between. Prominently sited on summit of wooded hill. Important landscape feature overlooking village. [9] English Heritage Listed Building Number: 264747. First Listed on 22 May 1969. [10] The tower is included in Dunster's Conservation Area. Its importance as a landscape feature overlooking the village was particularly noteworthy. [11] The building was visited in April 2012 as part of the rapid condition survey of Exmoor's Listed Buildings 2012-13. It received a BAR score of 5A. [12] The Tithe Map for Dunster depicts the tower but positions it slightly to the northeast of its true position, at SS 9919 4416. [13] Conygar Tower is depicted and labelled on 2018 MasterMap data. [14] A collection of images of the site is held by the Historic England Archive. [15,16] This record was enhanced as part of the National Record of the Historic Environment to Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record data transfer project. [17] The building is mentioned in the 2018 Conservation Area Appraisal for Dunster. [18]

Sources/Archives (19)

  • <1> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1974. 1:10,000 scale map: 1974. 1:10000.
  • <2> Externally held archive reference: Externally held archive. Dunster Manor Office, Box iv.
  • <3> Article in serial: Maxwell Lyte, H.C.. 1880. Dunster and its Lords. The Archaeological Journal. 37. Parts 1 to 4, pp57-93, 155-179, 271-293, 395-405. p 403.
  • <4> Monograph: edited Sir Hugh Casson. 1963. Follies .
  • <5> Index: Department of the Environment. List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest . DOE (HHR) West Somerset District (Dunster Ph) Somerset 4th August 1983 45.
  • <6> Monograph: Pevsner, N.. 1958. The Buildings of England: South and West Somerset. Penguin Books. p157.
  • <7> Unpublished document: Riley, H.. Field Investigators Comments. RCHME Field Investigation, 1998.
  • <8> Monograph: Binding, H.. Discovering Dunster. The Exmoor Press.
  • <9> Index: 4/8/1983. Twenty-fifth List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest. District of West Somerset (Somerset).
  • <10> Verbal communication: Various. 1900-. Somerset County Council / South West Heritage Trust staff comments. CJ Webster, Historic Environment Record, Somerset County Council, 2005.
  • <11> Report: Fisher, J.. 2002. Dunster Conservation Area Character Appraisal. Exmoor National Park Authority.
  • <12> Report: Lawrence, G.. 2014. Exmoor National Park: Rapid condition survey of listed buildings 2012-13.
  • <13> Map: 1842. Dunster Tithe Map and Apportionment. 6 chains = 1 inch. Land parcel 257.
  • <14>XY Map: Ordnance Survey. 2018. MasterMap. [Mapped feature: #39101 ]
  • <15> Photograph: hesketh-Roberts, M.. 1999. Job: Conygar Tower. Colour. Negative.
  • <16> Photograph: F Frith and Company Limited. 1900-1925. View showing the Yarn Market in the High Street with Myrtle Cottage on the right and Conygar Tower in the background, taken from the south-west. Unknown. Postcard.
  • <17> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 36941, Updated 18 May 2022.
  • <18> Report: Pratt, N. and Thurlow, T.. 2018. Dunster Conservation Area: appraisal document. Exmoor National Park Authority. p 4, 18, 19, 92, Figures 4, 76.
  • <19> Index: Charterhouse Environs Research Team. 2012. The CHERT Index of the Drawings and Sketches of the Reverend John Skinner. Vol 18 (1836 Devonshire), page 67?.

External Links (2)

Other Statuses/References

  • 2012-3 Building At Risk Score (5A): 26/3/115
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO12152
  • Local Heritage List Status (Rejected)
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 94 SE38
  • National Park
  • NBR Index Number: 99/01183
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 36941
  • Somerset SMR PRN (Somerset): 33578
  • Somerset SMR PRN: 35019



Grid reference Centred SS 9917 4410 (9m by 8m)
Map sheet SS94SE

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (2)

Related Events/Activities (1)

Record last edited

May 18 2023 5:10PM


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