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"Dunster - a real charmer" England Things to Do Tip by iandsmith

England Things to Do: 569 reviews and 903 photos

  Part of the castle
by iandsmith
  • Part of the castle - England
      Part of the castle
    by iandsmith
  • Delightful thatched cottages - England
      Delightful thatched cottages
    by iandsmith
  • The main street with castle on the hill - England
      The main street with castle on the hill
    by iandsmith

Originally the town had no need of such a thing as a yarn market (pic 3) as it was a trading port but with silting and erosion the Bristol Channel is now nearly 3 kilometres away. This is why they turned to milling the then-fashionable wool.
Visiting Dunster is a two part thing. First you've probably come for the castle but, either before or after that, you should allow some time for the village (pic 2).
Though at times it's definitely weighted on the touristy side of the ledger Dunster didn't disappoint. Its lovely setting alone makes the visit worthwhile.
William de Mohun started the castle. The initial keep and walls were of wood, but as there was much natural red sandstone in the area it was soon rebuilt.
The most famous of the Mohun family was the 3rd William de Mohun, a supporter of Empress Matilda in her civil war against Stephen. He was known as the Scourge of the West because of his reckless plundering. He built the stone shell keep on top of the hill and the earliest stone walls.
The residential buildings in the lower ward are mostly Elizabethan, built in the late 16th century to replace those that had been in the shell keep and in 1617 a new house was built within the bailey incorporating part of the wall.
During the Civil War in 1642, the castle was seized and held by a Royalist garrison. In 1646 it was besieged and was battered with guns in the village below. The Governor surrendered and though it was on a list of castles to be destroyed, nothing happened. The Parliamentarian troops were stationed there for five years, then the castle was returned to the Luttrells after payment of a fine.
In the 19th century the architect Salvin built two large castellated towers and another in the centre of the south wall and reconstructed the front in the Gothic revival style. At the bottom of the hill is the Mill. There was a mill there at the time of the Domesday survey in 1086 although the current mill dates back to the 18th century. It's a working mill, producing wholemeal flour for local bakeries.

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  • Updated Apr 19, 2006
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