Dunster Castle, Gardens & Watermill | National Trust | Visitor Information

Dunster Castle, Gardens & Watermill | National Trust | Visitor Information

Well worth a visit when in Exmoor National Park, the magnificent Dunster Castle is now run by the National Trust as a tourist attraction. Hundreds of years old, this medieval country home will have plenty to keep you entertained. There are ‘behind the scenes’ tours to help you get a glimpse of how the servants lived, run daily from March until November. Visit the crypt and learn about the ghosts of Dunster Castle… if you’re feeling brave enough!

Dunster castle
Sometimes it’s hard to tell why you feel like you’ve stepped back in time on Exmoor to a fairytale land vaguely familiar from a childhood daydream or mediaeval story… However, when in Dunster, these feelings can more obviously be explained. Not every village high street runs casually towards a magnificent castle, centuries-old.


A brief history of Dunster Castle

To start this epic fairytale, we can consider the very beginning; Castle version number one consisted of a Saxon Hillfort, a fortification constructed sometime around 700AD.
Several hundred years later, the Norman Warrior William de Mohun’ replaced the original Hillfort with a motte-and-bailey style timber castle.
Williams’ son (of the same name) then constructed the upper stone fortifications sometime in the early 12th century.
During this time and beyond, various battles, periods of anarchy and the civil war tested the Castle for its military functionality, much of it destroyed and rebuilt.

In 1376, the Castle passed into its next chapter – from Mohuns to Lutterals. This family made significant modifications and expansions over the generations; the building of the gatehouse (1420), the creation of the Jacobean mansion (1617) and, subsequently, into a comfortable Victorian home (1868). Only in recent years (1976) did the Lutterals finally pass the Castle onto the National Trust, who offer it as the incredible tourist attraction it is today.


Opening times & Ticket Prices

Open all year. April to October 10 am – 5 pm. November to March 11 am – 4 pm. 

Ticket prices: Adult £13, Child £6.50, Family £32.50


Dunster Castle Gardens

For further magnificence, wander through the incredible 15 acres of Castle Gardens. A combination of significant botanical input over the years and an unusual microclimate results in a diverse and exotic mix of plant species. 


The South Terrace

Head to the South Terrace for dreamy views across the Bristol Channel and Deer Park. The layout and planting of the South Terrace stem from the Victorian period, with magnificent floral displays in the summer. Additionally, you’ll see various Mediterranean species thriving in the sunny ambience. Try out the Orangery for coffee and snacks, the Lemon House, and Swan Pond – home to goldfishes and newts, providing plenty of entertainment for the whole family.

The River Garden

A wild and wooded area around the River Avil, with small bridges crossing back and forth. I love the giant rhubarb here, which adds to the magical, otherworldly feel. Continuing down the path will lead you to the Working Watermill and tea-room

The Yew Bank

The cool, dark shade of yew trees has been utilised here since first commissioned by Dorothy Luttrell back in 1720.

The Keep

Climb to the highest point of the gardens, of the Castle, and of the whole of Dunster! Take a walk around The Keeps’ perimeter for more incredible views of the Somerset landscape. Once the Upper Ward of the Norman fortress, this area was levelled in 1721 to form a Bowling Green. The Octagon Tower, constructed for ladies and bowling participants, now houses a historical exhibition.


Dunster castle

Dunster castle

Dunster Working Watermill

Dunster castle

Dunster Castle and Garden admission now includes The Watermill. A mill was first recorded to be present at the site in the Domesday Book, although the present building dates back to 1780. Situated on the River Avil, close to Gallow Bridge, is fully restored and still used to grind flour – you can even buy some flour to take home.

Family useful information:

  • Baby-changing facilities
  • Front-carrying baby slings for loan
  • Family and children’s guides
  • Children’s quiz/trail
  • Wheel-friendly route in gardens
  • Buggy park
  • Family events and activity days

Click here for the National Trust Dunster Castle Website


Other posts you may be interested in;

Things to Do in Dunster | Visitor Information

Circular Walk | Dunster | 2 Hour Walk 

Things to Do in Minehead | A Visitors Guide

Our Top 10 Things to Do on Exmoor

Self-catering accommodation in & around Dunster

If you are looking for some nearby accommodation, there are plenty of self-catering cottages available for short stays in the village of Dunster many of which are within an easy walking distance of the castle