MSO9460 - 18th Century gardens at Dunster Castle (Monument)


The garden at Dunster Castle, covering 6 hectares, was landscaped by Henry Fownes Luttrell in the late 18th Century. It includes garden buildings, follies, bridges, and native and exotic planting.

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Type and Period (7)

Protected Status

Full Description

(SS 99124344 NGR located from [1] and [2]) Gardens on Castle Hill, Dunster Castle, cover an area of 6 ha, with terracing below the castle. Features include a moveable glasshouse which housed date palms, lemon and olive trees. A cascade is also present. The keep was levelled to create a walled bowling green, the west slopes terraced and a vineyard planted in the early 18th century. The conservatory was constructed by A. Salvin in 1867. A sumerhouse was constructed in 1727. The wooded area contains native and exotic trees mostly replanted by the National Trust. This area was landscaped in the late 18th century by Henry Fownes Luttrell [2]. During the medieval period the defence of the castle was to the fore. A plot of land between the outer castle wall and West Street was known as "Castel dichepasture" in 1430, and the moat of Dunster is mentioned in 1318 and 1381. The castle was besieiged in the 17th century. In the early 18th century lanscaping of the motte was carried out. A bowling green was created on the summit, and a summerhouse built (MSO9481) [3]. A contemporary engraving shows planting on the sides of the motte, with a wooded area below the drive [4]. In the later part of the 18th century HF Luttrell added to the landscape development begun earlier that century. A tower and gateway were built as follies on Conygar Hill (MSO9432, MSO9477). A 13th century tower on the curtain wall was also rebuilt as a folly (MSO10037). Two ornamental bridges, Gallox Bridge and the gateway at Castle Mill all functioned as part of this landscape (MSO12063, MSO12106, MSO9409, MSO9458). The New Deer Park (MSO9088) was created in 1755 by HF Luttrell, as the backdrop to the immediate surroundings of the castle. By 1830 the castle mount was described as "covered with evergreens, flowering shrubs and trees to its top" [5]. Later in the 19th century, as part of the rebuilding work on the Castle by Salvin (between 1868 and 1872), a conservatory and orangery were added to the south front. Early in the 20th century, a polo ground was created on the area known as the Lawns by the River Avill. The Polo Bungalow still exists. The cemetery for the pets of the Luttrell family lies close to the base of the motte (MSO9412). [6] Six evaluation trenches were dug on the driveway at the castle in 2001 and produced evidence of a stone retaining wall of two possible phases as well as evidence for road surface foundations. [7] A further watching brief to monitor repair and consolidation works produced no archaeological remains, probably due to the nature of the works themselves. [8] This record was enhanced as part of the National Record of the Historic Environment to Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record data transfer project. [10] The gardens are mentioned in the 2018 Conservation Area Appraisal for Dunster. [11]

Sources/Archives (11)

  • <1> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1974. 1:10,000 scale map: 1974. 1:10000.
  • <2> Unpublished document: Eardley-Wilmot, H.. 1981. Worksheet in Devon HER. Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest; Part 36, Somerset, 1985.
  • <3> Leaflet: Dodd, D.. 1979. Dunster Castle. National Trust.
  • <4> Externally held archive reference: Externally held archive. Engraving of Dunster Castle from the northeast in 1733 by Samuel and Nathaniel Buck.
  • <5> Monograph: Savage, J.. 1830. A History of the Hundred of Carhampton.
  • <6> Unpublished document: Riley, H.. Field Investigators Comments. RCHME Field Investigation, 1998.
  • <7> Report: Adam, N and Cox, P.. August 2001. Archaeological investigations on the driveway of Dunster Castle, Somerset. AC Archaeology. AC Archaeology report 4601/10 (2001).
  • <8> Report: Adam, NJ. April 2002. Archaeological monitoring of remedial works to the driveway of Dunster Castle, Dunster, Somerset. AC Archaeology. AC Archaeology report (2002).
  • <9>XY Map: Ordnance Survey. 2018. MasterMap. [Mapped feature: #39225 ]
  • <10> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 621258, Extant 19 May 2022.
  • <11> Report: Pratt, N. and Thurlow, T.. 2018. Dunster Conservation Area: appraisal document. Exmoor National Park Authority. p 16, 72.

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • Local Heritage List Status (Rejected)
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 94 SE87
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 621258



Grid reference Centred SS 9914 4349 (312m by 299m)
Map sheet SS94SE

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (6)

Related Events/Activities (1)

Record last edited

Oct 26 2022 11:39AM


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