Castle Keep South

Lundy, Bristol Channel, Devon


Castle Keep South is the largest of the three cottages built round a small courtyard and sheltered from the outside world.

  • CotCot
  • Fire or StoveFire or Stove
  • ShowerShower

Beds 1 Twin, 1 Double

4 nights from
£392 equivalent to £24.50 per person, per night

Cottages in the Castle Keep

Snug and sociable, Castle Keep South looks inward except for one window in the outer walls.

The Castle was built by Henry III in about 1250, and paid for by the sale of rabbits. High up on the south-east point of the island, it replaced the earlier castle of the unruly Mariscos, which stood behind the farm. In the Civil War Lundy was held for the Royalists by Thomas Bushell, who rebuilt the castle. He owned a silver mine and tradition says he minted coins here. By 1787 cottages had been built around the small courtyard inside the Keep. These have decayed and been rebuilt several times, most recently by us, as three Castle Keep Cottages.

Floor Plan

Map & local info

Commanding a fine view of the East Coast of Lundy from the parade ground, the Castle is set high up on the South East point of the island.

Read all about Lundy

Clear directions

Places to visit nearby

Rocky shore rambles

Lundy wildlife talks by warden

Snorkelling safaris

Warden led walks

Seabird walks


Booking and Payment
  • 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.
  • If your stay starts more than two 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. 
  • If you wish to cancel or change your booking, please contact Booking Enquiries on 01628 825925.
  • Please note that travel costs are not included in the cost of the accommodation.  For up to date fare information and timetables please visit:
  • At the moment we only accept payment in sterling.
  • 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 online.
  • Please report to reception when you arrive on the island, where further information will be given.
  • If you miss the scheduled sailing or helicopter to Lundy, you’ll have to make your own travel arrangements using local operators.
  • If we cannot transport you to Lundy either by boat or helicopter at the beginning of your stay, and you have bought from us either a boat or helicopter ticket we will refund the rent you have paid for each night until you reach the island. If we cannot transport you from Lundy at the end of your stay and you have bought from us a boat or helicopter ticket we will cover the cost of each extra night’s accommodation on Lundy. If we offer you a sailing or helicopter flight to or from Lundy but you refuse it, we reserve the right to change your accommodation and/or to charge for it.
  • No, Landmarks are available to be booked for anyone.
  • 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!
Staying on Lundy
  • 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 on 01628 825925 if you would like to find out the suitability of a particular Landmark for anyone with a specific disability.  Further information on access when visiting Lundy can be found here:
  • Yes, Landmarks are only available as self-catering accommodation. We occasionally offer bed and breakfast subject to property availability, with breakfast being served in the Marisco Tavern.
  • We do not provide catering, however, the Marisco Tavern is normally open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Please check the notice board on arrival for opening times.
  • Dogs are not permitted on Lundy except assistance dogs.
  • Lundy is a working farm with large numbers of ewes and lambs at certain times of the year. For this reason we cannot allow you to bring dogs or pets (except assistance dogs) when travelling to, or staying on, the island.
  • Your arrival and departure time on the island will be governed by the arrival and departure time of MS Oldenburg or the helicopter.  Your property will be ready by 4pm, however, this can often be earlier.  You must vacate your property by 10am.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Unfortunately, most of our Landmarks are not licensed for weddings.  However, it’s possible to get married or have a wedding blessing on Lundy subject to obtaining the relevant license and/or consent. Please contact the shore office [email protected] for further information.   
  • 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.
  • We deliberately do not provide televisions and find that most people appreciate this.
  • There is intermittent mobile phone signal on Lundy but there is a pay phone in The Marisco Tavern.
  • 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).  
  • 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.
  • Yes, our kitchens are well equipped with cookers and fridges. There is standard range of crockery, cutlery, pots, pans and utensils. A full equipment list is available at time of booking.
  • Fuel for the open fires/stoves can be bought from the General Store.
  • Mobile coverage varies on the island.  There is a payphone in the Marisco Tavern.
  • 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.
  • Yes, Landmarks are fully equipped with sheets and towels. All the beds are fully made up for your arrival.
  • A welcome tray with tea, milk and sugar awaits your arrival.  We also provide toilet rolls and a bar of soap per basin, but no other toiletries. We do not provide hairdryers. Here are other things you might consider.
History & Restoration

Built by Henry III in 1243

Marisco Castle is a misnomer. The castle was built by Henry III in 1243 after the downfall of his rebellious island subjects, the de Marisco family. In that year the Sheriff of Devon gave instructions that the new Governor of the island should build a tower and a bailey wall. These were to be financed from the sale of rabbits, for Lundy was a Royal Warren.

The National Trust's Archaeological Survey of Lundy (1989) states that:

The castle comprised a small Keep, measuring 51ft by 38ft, with 3ft thick walls, and with a small bailey on the landward side. This was enclosed within a curtain wall (although this may have been a 17th century addition) and a ditch, except towards the sea where the rock is almost perpendicular. The Keep was rectangular in design, constructed of local granite with the walls inclining inwards. The few windows are very small and these are in the south-facing wall. At some point the Keep's crenellations have been filled-in and the walls built up to the height of the earlier domed chimneys at the four corners.

Facing North Devon, the castle commands a fine view of the east coast of Lundy, the landing bay and the channel. Myrtle Langham writes, “at first it was used by a succession of keepers, with garrison, appointed by the King and until Sir John Borlase Warren built the Farmhouse (Old House) about 1775-80 it was, as far as we know, the main building on the island”.

Thomas Bushell, who held Lundy for the King during the Civil War, claimed that he had “built it from the ground”. At that time he added the East Parade or Bastion with batteries on the east and south sides. The Curtain walls were reinforced or rebuilt of coursed, random rubble. On the parade ground there was a complex of buildings below the keep. One of these, at the western corner, is known as The Old House and may well have been Governor Bushell’s private residence at a time when the Castle was garrisoned.

The Keep was used to house convicts by Thomas Benson, who leased the island from 1748-54, and at that time there were two houses on the parade in front of the Keep. By 1775 the Keep was ruinous and Sir John Borlase Warren deliberately dismantled the castle's defences to provide building stone for works elsewhere on the island but the eastern end of the ditch and rampart survive quite well. In 1824, Sir Aubrey de Vere Hunt's steward wrote that “one half of the oald castle fell first Winter I came to Lundy and the other part came down last Winter”. Other parts were described as still being in good order.

In the 1850s Mr Heaven repaired the keep and converted it into three cottages facing the central courtyard for his labourers. North and South Cottage had two tenements each and East Cottage facing the entrance had one. They all had metal roofs. After the Granite Company failed in 1868, islanders occupied the company’s abandoned buildings, but the Castle cottages remained in intermittent use until the end of the century and sometimes housed shipwreck victims.

In 1870 one cottage was inhabited by the herdsman Withycombe, his wife and their lodger, an old sailor-turned-mason called Sam Jarman. Another was the home of the carpenter Joseph Dark and his family and the four roomed cottage facing the entrance was used by fishermen from Sennen during the summer fishing season, one of whom was George Thomas, the builder of Hanmers. By 1928 the cottages were no longer habitable and in that year Martin Harman commissioned the architect Charles Winmill (Secretary of SPAB 1898, pupil of Leonard Stokes and follower of Philip Webb) to do a report on the Castle. Mr Winmill proposed clearing the shell, strengthening the walls and covering the whole with a flat concrete roof, to provide perhaps a cattle bower. The estimated cost was £1,430 and so the report was ignored.

For a short history of Lundy please click here.

To read the full history album for Lundy please click here.


When Landmark took on the island in 1969 the Castle was once again a ruin. The cottages had lost all but little bits of roof and though the stairs were there, the timbers were rotten. In July 1975, Landmark appointed the stone mason Mike Haycraft to consolidate the external walls. At that time there were two proposals: the castle could either be repaired and left as a maintained ruin or it could be fully restored as hostel accommodation.

Due to erosion large areas of the outside walls needed repacking with mortar. The lime had leached out, the mortar had turned to soil and was supporting vigorous samphire plants. Some of the wall had crumbled away and needed completely rebuilding. Mike used coarse grit sieved from the Landing Beach, Bideford grit and ‘Wallcrete’. Because it was too difficult to handle in the weather conditions, lime was not used. A Victorian chimney was removed but no speculative work was done at all. This work took three summers to complete.

In 1978 an archaeological survey was commissioned before work began on the interior. It was quickly carried out and a musket ball and a little Iron Age pottery were discovered. The team then moved on to the Parade Ground and began working on the floor of the house believed to have been erected by Thomas Bushell in the Civil War.

At this point it was discovered that the internal walls of the Castle were in such bad repair that as they fell in they would drag in the external ones. Moreover, the internal walls were designed to be plastered and if they had been repointed as part of the maintained ruin scheme, they would look wrong. It was therefore decided to plaster them and roof over the old cottages. As, by this time, there was hostel accommodation in the Barn, it was decided to make two comfortable cottages instead.

In 1979 work on the cottages began with sometimes two, sometimes three, islanders helping Mike. The original lintel over the courtyard entrance was found lying on site and identified from old photographs. Mike found the piece of dressed granite, now in the window of the South cottage loo, when working at Admiralty Lookout; the granite fireplace in the North cottage comes from the Quarry cottages. As there is a danger that slates would be whipped off by the Atlantic winds, the cottages are roofed with corrugated iron. Inside, sheet lead was placed between the floors for soundproofing and the cottages were furnished in 1981. In1988, the far end was divided off to create a new, smaller Castle Keep East, reverting to Mr Heaven's 1850s layout.

When David Thackray of the National Trust surveyed the Parade Ground, he discovered a furnace just beneath the east wall of the Castle. It is possible that this was used by Bushell for the King's mint in the Civil War. From 1983 - 1984 the Manpower Services Commission had a team on Lundy rebuilding the exterior walls of the Parade Ground.

Getting to Lundy

Getting to Lundy

Your Lundy adventure begins even before you set foot on the Island.

During the winter season, (beginning of November until the end of March), a Helicopter Service operates between Lundy and Hartland Point on Mondays and Fridays.  This exhilarating flight takes approximately seven minutes, providing spectacular aerial views of the Island and North Devon.

During the summer season, (end of March until the end of October), the Island’s own supply ship and ferry, the MS Oldenburg departs several times a week from either Bideford or Ilfracombe. 

Find out more

Availability & booking

Select a changeover day to start your booking...

What's a changeover day? and Why can't I select other dates?Explain MoreQuestion

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.