There are many historical houses and gardens in Somerset to visit. Dunster Castle, owned by the National Trust is a magnificent castle with breathtaking views over Exmoor. Most of the castle dates from the 13th Century although inside there is a fine mix of Elizabethan and later work. Equally interesting are the castle gardens which include among the unusual plants, orange and lemon trees, camellias, and magnolias. The village of Dunster has many interesting historic buildings including a 17th Century watermill.
Another fascinating castle to visit is Nunney Castle near Frome. Surrounded by a moat, the ruined castle is a monument to violent times. The historic market town of Frome is well worth a visit while you are in this area. Taunton also has an interesting castle, home to the county Museum, an excellent place to trace Somerset’s history.
In south Somerset, villages such as Tintinhull, Clapton Court, and Barrington have classic gardens dating back to Elizabethan times. Do not miss the “Secret Garden” at Hestercombe, near Taunton, an 18th Century landscape garden that complements the Victorian terrace and formal Edwardian gardens of Lutyens and Jekyll.
The National Trust oversees the running of many historic houses and gardens in Somerset. The National Trust recently acquired the Tyntesfield Estate, a spectacular Gothic-style Victorian Country House and Gardens. Montacute House is one of the finest Elizabethan Houses in England and has provided the setting for feature films such as Sense and Sensibility and “The Libertine”.
Another National Trust property well worth a visit is Clevedon Court which dates from the 13th century. Here there are also fine terraced gardens and lovely parkland at the base of the hill below. Of similar name is Cleeve Abbey near Washford in the west of the county, this is the most complete monastic house in Somerset with one of the finest cloisters in England.
South Somerset has a number of interesting follies. Barwick Park near Yeovil has four follies thought to date from the 1770s. Another interesting folly is King Alfred’s Tower between Bruton and Wincanton.
In Glastonbury do not miss the ruined Abbey set in 36 acres of Somerset parkland. Steeped in history it is the legendary burial place of King Arthur and Queen Guinevere. Another famous landmark is the 15th century St Michael’s Tower at the top of Glastonbury Tor offering spectacular views across the Somerset Levels.
The City of Wells has many historical buildings of interest. The 12th-century Cathedral is one of the most impressive in England. The Chapter House, Vicar’s Hall, Cloisters, and the Bishops Palace all date from the 13-15th Centuries.
There are many other fascinating historical houses and gardens in Somerset, including Cothay Manor and Gardens and Nynehead Court Gardens both near Wellington, Combe Sydenham County Park near Taunton, and Lytes Cary Manor near Somerton, to name just a few. As a visitor to Somerset, the only problem will be choosing which of the many places of historical interest to visit!