Nether Stowey Castle

Welcome to Nether Stowey Castle!

The Parish Council is grateful to Terence Sackett for the wonderful text and graphics: please click on the pictures to enlarge them.

 

A BRIEF HISTORY

Nether Stowey Castle was preceded by Over Stowey Castle, built by Alfred d’Epaignes, the remains of which are just visible to the south of Cross Farm Lane.

Isabel, daughter of Alfred d’Epaignes and wife of Robert de Chandos, held the estates of the Manor of Stowey at the time Nether Stowey Castle was built in the late 11th or early 12th century. She and her successors probably managed the landscape near the castle with wood pasture and a deer park. Documents show that in the mid-13th century Philip de Columbers was granted a park in the estate (probably to the south and west of the castle), which he stocked with deer in 1295.
At the end of the 15th century the castle was beginning to be abandoned. By 1497 work had begun on building a larger, grander house at the other end of the village next to St Mary’s Church.

A MOTTE AND TWO BAILEYS

You are standing on the outer rampart of a Norman motte and bailey castle, built for the lord of the Manor of Stowey.

To your right is a deep ditch, from which rises the motte, a high, steep mound. If you climb to the top of it you will see the foundations of a stone donjon or keep, the defensive heart of the castle. This square, sturdy stone building probably rose to three stories in height and would have dominated the village below. From here you can see how the castle commands the foothills of the Quantocks and the lower land to the north and east – a good strategic position to control a newly-conquered country.

In the smaller of the two baileys below stood the lord of the manor’s great hall and perhaps a chapel, and the larger contained other accommodation, along with stables and stores.

FLOWERS AND WILDLIFE TO LOOK OUT FOR

The castle mound provides important grassland habitat, with significant populations of Primroses and Bluebells along with commoner plants such as Pignut and Early Forget-me-not.

The mound is also great for insects. Meadow Brown and Gatekeeper butterflies have the biggest populations, but you will also find Common Blue, Small Copper and Large Skipper. Many Bumble Bees find a home here, as do Nomad Bees.

Gorse patches make secure nesting places for Blackbirds, Robins, Dunnocks and Wrens, and their flowers are an important nectar source for butterflies, moths and bees during the summer months.  Green Woodpeckers feed on ants in the grassland.

The high vantage point is a superb place to look for birds of prey – Buzzards, Kestrels, and Peregrines nest close by and may be seen throughout the year.

Grazing sheep keep bracken and scrub under control.