Stogursey Castle

Stogursey, Bridgwater - Sleeps 4

About this Landmark

This diminutive gatehouse still guards the bridge onto a moated island where only the ruins of a once great castle remain. It is hard to imagine a more picturesque setting.

Dog Beds 1 Twin, 1 Double

  • Sleeps4
  • 4 nights from from£417
  • equivalent to £26.06 per person per night

King John dined in the castle

Stogursey, an old village to the east of the Quantocks, was chosen by William de Courcy as his principal base. William was a Steward to Henry I and both his son and his grandson married heiresses, making the de Courcys even more important. Their castle also grew in stature. Then the male line failed and the castle was inherited by Alice de Courcy. She entertained King John here in 1210, when her husband won 20 shillings from him ‘at play’. Later the Percys from Northumberland inherited the castle and it played a minor part in the Wars of the Roses. With the advent of more peaceful times, the Percys had no useful purpose for the castle as it stood, and did not think it was worth developing.

13th-century bridge uncovered as we cleared the vegetation

Time and neglect, and adaptation to more humble uses, reduced the castle to ruins beneath a mantle of vegetation. Only this later gatehouse survived in any recognisable form. This small dwelling had been formed inside the gate towers of the castle and their remnants still buttress it today. The Gatehouse has 17th-century roof timbers and was repaired in the 1870s; but like the rest of the castle, it too had largely disappeared beneath unchecked undergrowth and ivy by the time we found it. Clearing this and dredging the moat revealed the unsuspected 13th-century bridge. We also recovered some chain mail and other warlike fragments from the mud. The cottage makes a quirky but lovely Landmark, and it remains the only entrance to the castle’s grassy inner ward, scene of all those doings long ago. The castle ruins on the moated site are yours alone to explore, as is the little bridge from which to dangle your legs. Inside the gatehouse’s thick walls, the sitting room has an open fire.

Floor Plan

‘The tennis ball in the turret is the result of a mighty six.’

‘Beautiful moonlit nights, lighting up the ruins and reflecting magically in the moat.’

From the logbook

Map & local info

Stogursey Castle sits on a moated site near the pretty village. From here the Quantock hills and the coast are within easy reach.

Stogursey Castle
Stogursey, Bridgwater - Sleeps 4
Clear directions

Places to visit nearby

Burrow Mump

The Walled Gardens of Cannington

Somerset County Museum

‘The tennis ball in the turret is the result of a mighty six.’

‘Beautiful moonlit nights, lighting up the ruins and reflecting magically in the moat.’

From the logbook

Your questions answered

    What you need to know about this building

  • Does the property allow dogs?

    Yes.
  • How is the property accessed?

    Via a driveway from the main road.
  • What is the nearest railway station and how far away is it?

    Bridgwater – 10 miles.
  • Is there car parking specifically for Landmark guests?

    There are two parking spaces approximately 45m from the property.
  • What type of heating does the property have?

    There are electric night storage radiators and an open fire.
  • How can I get fuel for the open fire or stove?

    Logs may be purchased and delivered under a private arrangement. Further details will be provided with your booking confirmation.
  • What are the kitchen facilities?

    The kitchen is fully equipped with all plates, cutlery, fridge etc.
    There is also an electric cooker.






  • What are the bathroom facilities?

    There is one bathroom with a bath.
  • Does this Landmark have steep, narrow or spiral stairs?

    The internal stairs are steep, spiral and narrow.
  • Is there a garden or outside space?

    There is a moated garden (unfenced).

    Booking and Payment

  • Can I pay a deposit?

    If your stay starts more than three months from the date you make the booking, you are required to pay a deposit of one third of the cost of your stay (or £100 per booking, if greater) at the time of booking. Camping on Lundy must be paid for in full at the time of booking.
  • How can I pay?

    We accept Maestro (if issued in the UK), Visa, MasterCard, direct transfer and sterling cheques drawn on a UK bank. Cheques should be made payable to the Landmark Trust except for Lundy stays and boat/helicopter tickets which should be payable to The Lundy Company Ltd. All payments must be in sterling.
  • How do I pick up the key?

    There are various arrangements for picking up keys. To arrange to get into the Landmark, please contact the housekeeper at least two days before your stay
  • How can I cancel or change my booking?

    If you wish to cancel or change your booking, please contact our Booking Office on 01628 825925
  • What if I arrive late?

    Please let the housekeeper know if you are going to arrive late and s/he will leave a key for you in a suitable place.
  • Do you accept payment in other currencies?

    At the moment we only accept payment in sterling.
  • How far in advance do I need to book?

    It depends. Some of our most popular Landmarks are booked up a long time in advance, but many can be booked at short notice. We will always have Landmarks free for the coming weekend so it’s always worth checking our availability list.
  • Do you have to be a member to book a Landmark?

    No, Landmarks are available to be booked for anyone.
  • Do I need a Handbook to be able to book?

    No, all the information you need can be found on our website, although we’d like you to buy one anyway as it will be a pleasure to own!
  • What happens if I can’t get to the Landmark due to bad weather?

    If the weather is bad, please contact our booking office who will advise you as to whether the Landmark is accessible. If the housekeeper can safely get to the building to carry out the changeover then we consider that it is open and available. However if we cannot undertake a changeover then we will do our utmost to transfer your stay to another Landmark, which may not be of a similar size or in the same part of the country as your original booking.

    Staying at a Landmark

  • Are Landmarks only available as self-catering accommodation?

    Yes, Landmarks are only available as self-catering accommodation. We do not offer bed and breakfast.
  • Do you provide catering?

    Landmark does not provide catering, but we can recommend Greycoat Lumleys who can arrange for expert and well-trained staff to cater for one evening or for your entire holiday. Their cooks and chefs are able to work with you to meet your specific requirements
  • Do you allow dogs?

    You may bring up to two dogs to properties where dogs are allowed (please see specific property details for exemptions however dogs are not permitted on Lundy except assistance dogs). They must be kept off the furniture and under proper control.
  • Can I bring a pet?

    Apart from two dogs (see above) no other pets are permitted.
  • Insured if I break something?

    We do not carry insurance for breakages. However we appreciate that accidents do sometimes happen. If you have a breakage during your stay, please let the housekeeper know and if appropriate we reserve the right to invoice you accordingly.
  • Are Landmarks suitable for children?

    Yes, most of our Landmarks are perfect for children, with gardens to play in and secret places to discover. Our furniture is surprisingly robust and we positively encourage families to stay. However, some of our buildings may not be suitable for small children; for example, some of them have steep or uneven spiral staircases. We recommend that you call the Booking Enquiries team if you would like to find out the suitability of any of our Landmarks for young children.
  • Are Landmarks accessible for people with disabilities or limited mobility?

    Some of our Landmarks are suitable for people with disabilities or limited mobility. However, many Landmarks have steep or narrow staircases, uneven floors and thresholds, changes of level, low ceilings or beams, as well as indistinct colours on steps and in corridors. We recommend that you call Booking Enquiries if you would like to find out the suitability of a particular Landmark for anyone with a specific disability.
  • Can I get married in a Landmark?

    Unfortunately, most of our Landmarks are not licensed for weddings. However, you may get married on Lundy.
  • Can I hold a big party in a Landmark?

    All our larger Landmarks are perfect for gatherings of family or friends. You may invite an additional two guests to visit you during your stay, however they must not stay overnight. This is very important because our fire regulations specifically note the maximum number of people in any one building. In addition our properties are prepared, furnished and equipped for the number of people specified and greater numbers cause damage and excessive wear and tear to vulnerable buildings. Should this condition be ignored we shall make a retrospective charge per person per day (whether or not they stay overnight) for each guest over the permitted limit, the charge being pro-rated on the total cost of your booking.
  • Is it true there are no televisions in the buildings?

    We deliberately do not provide televisions and find that most people appreciate this.
  • Why are your access tracks sometimes difficult?

    One of the challenges of restoring unloved buildings is gaining access to them. We frequently have to negotiate rights with our neighbours and share tracks with them. In many cases tracks do not belong to us and we have no right to maintain them. Wherever possible we work with our neighbours to provide you with a good quality surface, but where this is a problem then you will be warned at the time of booking.
  • Will there be sockets for my electrical appliances?

    Yes, we have standard electricity sockets for UK appliances. If you are coming from outside the UK, you will need to bring your own adaptor plug(s).

    Facilities

  • Are the kitchens and bathrooms restored to a modern standard?

    Sometimes our kitchens and bathrooms have to be imaginatively fitted into the available space in buildings where before there were none, but they are all planned and equipped to a high and modern standard.
  • Is linen provided?

    Yes, Landmarks are fully equipped with sheets and towels. All the beds are fully made up for your arrival.
  • Are the kitchens fully equipped?

    Yes, our kitchens are well equipped with cookers and fridges. There are freezers and dishwashers (in larger buildings) and, where space allows, microwaves as well as a wide and standard range of utensils. A full equipment list is available at time of booking.
  • Do you provide logs for the open fire/stove?

    Logs are provided at many of our Landmarks for an additional cost.
  • Will there be a mobile signal in the Landmark I book?

    Mobile coverage varies. Some Landmarks have an excellent signal, but others have none at all. If you are concerned, you can check with the housekeeper before your arrival.
  • Is there Wi-Fi in your buildings?

    No. At the moment, we have decided not to implement Wi-Fi in our buildings following a consultation with our customers. Many said that they would find it useful, but many also felt that it would somehow damage the experience of staying in a Landmark. As the responses were so split, and as we have so many other initiatives requiring funding, we have decided to put this on hold for the time being.
  • What should I bring with me? Are there lavatory rolls, soap, shampoo, milk, teabags, coffee, hairdryer?

    A welcome tray with tea and sugar awaits your arrival and you will find a pint of milk in the fridge. We also provide lavatory rolls and a bar of soap, per basin but no other toiletries. We do not provide hairdryers.

Almost 1,000 years of use

What remains at Stogursey Castle today are the vestiges of almost a thousand years of use, first military and then more peaceable. The little cottage now used as a Landmark was chiefly built in the 17th century, but it also incorporates mediaeval fabric from the gate towers whose site it colonised. Although extensive archaeology has been carried out in the past, the site is a very complex one and questions remain, particularly about the castle’s exact form in its earliest years. Its history falls into six main stages.

Stage 1: 1066 - 1100

Stogursey Castle’s origins lie with William the Conqueror’s need to consolidate his new kingdom. He granted the manor of Stoke to William de Falaise who built a castle on the site as one of a chain running from Dunster to Montacute, to protect Somerset from invasion from the sea. It seems de Falaise did not build the typical motte (defensive mound) since the remains of a later, stone building have been found beneath the existing mound. Instead, his defences took the form of the ‘castle ringwork’, a hall or keep with a timber stockade, on a flat area defended by a strong bank and a ditch.

Stage 2: 1100 - 1150

Early in the 12th century, Stoke manor passed by marriage to the de Curci (later Courcy) family. William de Curci did rather well out of his marriage, with the fortified manor of Stoke a particular prize since castles could only be held with permission from the king. Stoke was made the ‘caput’ or head of the Honour of Curci, lands stretching across several counties but bound by allegiance to the same lord.

Stoke therefore became Stoke-Curci, and eventually Stogursey. It was probably de Curci who built the castle mound to strengthen his new seat. The mound filled the area of the original ringwork, constructed partly from the earth removed to deepen the ditch.

By now, as castle technology developed and stronger keeps were being built, mottes were less crucial to defences, but Stoke was still marshy in those days, and in flat countryside, so a mound would have offered both defensive observation and drier conditions. De Curci built a rectangular keep on the mound, probably of two or three storeys. It had stone foundations, so may also have had stone walls, the use of stone an indication of its strategic importance to the Normans. A stockade surrounded the mound; to the south east, and partly surrounding the mound, was a bailey (defensive enclosure), also stockaded and with its own deep ditch. Some years later, a second, larger bailey was added to the east, perhaps during the troubled years of the power struggles between Stephen and Matilda.

Stage 3: 1150-70

Henry II came to the throne in 1156 and proceeded energetically to consolidate Plantagenet rule across the realm. William de Curci III inherited Stogursey around the same time. He was also one of the king’s stewards and may have been authorised to strengthen Stogursey Castle, which now reached the peak of its strength, protecting the mouth of the River Parrett. Stone curtain walls were built around the mound, patched stretches of which remain today. A rectangular garderobe (or lavatory) tower appeared on the west side. The main entrance, then as now to the east, was probably defended by another tower. Fragments of a timber bridge from this period have been found, suggesting that the moat may by now have been filled with water (the leat system was extended soon after to power a mill, still referred to as ‘new’ in 1225).

Castles fulfilled domestic as well as military roles and Stogursey would have been permanent home to a constable and his household. Every so often de Curci and his retinue (otherwise in attendance on the king) would arrive to take up residence. The keep would have provided limited rather uncomfortable accommodation and evidence suggests that a main hall was also built on the western side of the inner ward, adjoining the garderobe tower. Other service buildings also sprang up as befitted the seat of one of the most influential families in England and a castle which, with Corfe, Sherbourne and Taunton, was one of the four regarded as vital for the defence of the south west.

Stage 4: 1216-30

But Stogursey Castle was now to be superseded by a new castle to protect the crossing of the Parrett, built by King John at Bridgewater as he sought absolute control over the English territories that were all that remained to the English Crown. Stogursey and its owners lost control over the area as a consequence. The de Curci line had petered out, Stogursey passing through Alice de Curci, a wealthy widow, to her second husband Warin FitzGerold, John’s chamberlain. In 1210, the king came to stay with FitzGerold at Stogursey; they no doubt enjoyed good hunting on the Quantocks and then, royal accounts record, the king lost 20 shillings gambling. Although FitzGerold was a loyal signatory to the Magna Carta in 1214, two years later his monarch became suspicious of him and ordered the constable of Stogursey to hold the castle directly for the king, with extra men to defend it in case FitzGerold tried to regain it. Fortifications seem to have been strengthened again. In 1224 Stogursey was held for the rebels against the regents of the young Henry III and besieged. It did not fall, but there is evidence of much patching and repair afterwards. Timber was provided for the repair of domestic buildings and a gatehouse with at least one semi-circular tower was built on the east side of the site.

Stage 5: 1300-1325

Passing through the hands of various owners through the troubled 13th century, Stogursey came to rest in 1309 with the Fitzpaynes, a family of rising importance in the west. The castle was to remain in their hands until the late 17th century. Robert Fitzpayne set about ‘modernising’ his small castle, whose outer bailey had by now disappeared, possibly becoming the castle garden. Defences to the inner ward were strengthened, including a twin-towered gatehouse, a new bridge and a semi-circular tower built against the western wall. A stronger, more compact castle resulted.

Stage 6 1450-1550

According to local tradition, in 1455 or 57 (accounts vary) Stogursey once again became caught up in national events as the rallying point for the Lancastrian cause in the south-west. It was reputedly besieged, overthrown and destroyed, never to be repaired as a fortified site again. Yet there is no written or archaeological evidence of such cataclysm. Certainly the gatehouse defences were improved around this date and then in the 1490s accounts show the gatehouse and a ‘new’ tower were extensively repaired. The advent of the Tudors brought more peaceable times, however, and in common with fortified manors across the country, from now on Stogursey was to pass gradually into domestic and agricultural use.

The later years

In 1670 a major sale of the Earl of Northumberland’s (as the Fitzpaynes had become) lands took place to offset debt. Stogursey Castle and 27 acres were sold as a tenanted farm, known as Mill Farm from its association with the old mill. The castle buildings gradually fell into dereliction as the site became increasingly cultivated. Mr Percy Caple lived in the cottage from 1919 until 1963, a great gardener who produced hundred-weights of potatoes from the former inner ward. In 1963 Mill Farm was sold but the cottage remained empty and was left to decay. Local conservationists got the local Council involved, who were advised on the site by architect John Schofield, who had worked on the Old Hall at Croscombe, another Landmark. When the Council’s plans failed, he suggested an approach to Landmark, who acquired the castle site.

Clearing the site

Work began with the clearing of the site of undergrowth and a thorough survey. Only the north wall was in danger of imminent collapse and so repairs here were carried out first, in tandem with those to the cottage. Work to the other walls and the remains of the west tower were carried out over the next few years by mason Michael Haycraft. Repairs were mostly repointing and capping off in lime mortar, to prevent further damage from water penetration.

The cottage itself had already had emergency support put in: the floors were weak, lintels cracked and sagging, windows and doors boarded up against vandals. The walls had deteriorated and the west wall was coming away from the main body of the building and had to be tile-stitched back in. The north gable had to be largely rebuilt and the north-west corner, which was suffering from subsidence, underpinned. Once the walls had all been repaired they were rendered (except for the south elevation where the masonry is of higher quality) and lime-washed to distinguish the 17th-century work from the mediaeval walls that contain it.

The 19th-century tiled roof was replaced with thatch, which is how it was roofed originally. The 19th-century roof timbers were kept, but extended to deepen the eaves. New elm gutters were fitted and the chimneys were rebuilt.

Nearly all the 17th-century window oak frames survived and needed only minor repairs and reglazing. 19th-century windows were repaired and renewed; the only entirely new window is that which lights the stairs. The 17th-century windows were reglazed with rectangular panes, while those for the mediaeval arrow-loops of the gatehouse tower are diamond-shaped.

Inside a new oak stair was made in the original 17th-century turret, whose brickwork also needed much repair. The ground floor is much as we found it with old doors and paved floor. The walls were all replastered and limewashed. Upstairs, a bathroom was created by blocking a 19th-century door. The ceiling was removed in the south bedroom to show a surviving 17th-century truss, which forms part of the partition with the bathroom. Floorboards were renewed with second-hand timber. Plumbing and wiring were completely renewed and the digging of the septic tank provided archaeologists the opportunity to examine the structure of the mound and establish the ground level beneath it.

The bridge was perhaps the most exciting discovery of all. Trial holes revealed the masonry to be mainly intact and when the mud had all been dug away, an almost-complete bridge from about 1300 was revealed, which was repaired, repaved and repointed. It would have been impossible to put back a true drawbridge so the gap was bridged instead with a new section of oak. The main dredging of the moat happened in 1983 when a number of finds were made including an archer’s wrist band, leather shoe soles and sections of chain mail. Once the moat was cleared, the leats bringing water to the moat from Stogursey Brook could be re-opened and the castle stood guarded once more by water and ready for adventure.

Select a changeover day to start your booking...

QuestionWhat's a changeover day? and Why can't I select other dates?

A changeover day is a particular day of the week when holidays start and end at our properties. These tend to be on a Friday or a Monday but can sometimes vary. All stays run from one changeover day until another changeover day.