Last Photographed: Saturday 14th September 2019
Stogursey Castle is a motte and bailey castle dating back to the late 11th or early 12th Century when William de Falaise was gifted the Saxon manor of Stoche. The first structure was most likely a timber palisade and defensive earthwork and ditch.
In the late 12th Century the castle passed by marriage to William de Courcy. The village became known as Stoke Courcy, which evolved over time into Stogursey. Around this time, it appears that the stone curtain wall was added. Later, in the 13th Century, the curtain wall was reinforced with towers. These works may date to 1233AD when the crown ordered the strengthening of the castle.
Some sources claim that Stogursey Castle was torched in 1459AD during the War of the Roses, but this appears to be a local legend unsupported by evidence. It is known that the gatehouse was improved around 1490AD, alongside other works to refit the castle, so this account would seem unlikely. It is also said to have served as a centre of administration around this time. It would therefore seem more probable that the castle fell into decline and ruin when more peaceful times reduced the need for fortified castles, and the homes of the nobility were increasingly being designed around comfort rather than defence.
During the early part of the 17th Century, a private house was built on the site of the gatehouse, incorporating the remains of the flanking round towers. This was itself restored during the 1870s, but subsequently fell into ruin after the last tenant died or vacated in 1963AD. The whole site was purchased by The Landmark Trust in 1981AD, and work was carried out to renovate the house with the intention of turning it into a holiday let.
Today, Stogursey Castle remains in private hands, and while it's possible to walk around most of the exterior, the visitor remains separated from the castle by a restored moat. The only access to within the curtain wall is via the 17th Century house which remains in use as a holiday home.
Although there's not a huge amount to see, Stogursey Castle is a picturesque little ruin and quite unusual for this part of the world. It also benefits from its setting on the edge of Stogursey village, which is itself a quirky little backwater in a forgotten corner of Somerset that's little visited by tourists. Also of note is the village church of St Andrew's (visible from the castle and can be seen in the background of some of these photographs) - an exceptional and unusual building that was once a priory church.