Farleigh Hungerford Castle, Somerset

On the borders of Somerset and Wiltshire stand the extensive remains of Sir Thomas Hungerford's 14th century castle, consisting mainly of the inner bailey, and his son's later additions to the outer bailey. To the north and east of the original castle, the natural defence of the dyke provided adequate protection and to the south and west a ditch defended the Farleigh Hungerford site.

Enclosed by a curtain wall with a cylindrical tower at each corner, the squarish inner bailey of Farleigh Hungerford Castle contained a selection of domestic buildings. Today only two of the towers and some sections of the curtain wall survive. The south west tower stands almost to its full height of five storeys in places, but the south east tower exists only a little more than its third floor. The interior of the ground floor in this tower is round, whereas the upper floors are hexagonal in shape. The original windows at first floor level were enlarged during the 16th century, and it is these mullions that can be seen. Both the north east and the north west tower are barely more than foundations but, remarkably, the curtain wall in this area has survived to its full height. Outlines only of the domestic buildings now exist, although the remnants of two fireplaces can be seen towards the centre of the inner bailey.

Originally, the entrance to Farleigh Hungerford Castle was through the inner gate, consisting of two D-ended towers with a passage running through them. However, when Sir Walter had the outer bailey constructed, a barbican was added to the exterior of the inner gate. Sir Walter also constructed a polygonal enclosure with gateways located to the east and west of the bailey. The east gate was used as the main entrance to the castle grounds and the Hungerford family coat of arms can be made out above the arch. Located to the south of this gate stands the circular south tower, and beyond is the site of the stables.

When Sir Walter created the outer bailey, the church of St Leonard was situated within the curtain perimeter, and it was subsequently converted to the castle chapel. Much of the decoration and wall paintings still visible today, date from the 14th century, but there is plenty of historical interest spanning almost five centuries, and the Hungerford Tombs are a very striking feature of the chapel.

The Priests House, located to the east of the chapel, was built in the 15th century and extended in the 17th century. This building now houses a museum containing many artefacts that used to be displayed in Farleigh Hungerford's Chapel.

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