the castle at taunton

Photos courtesy of The Castle at Taunton








Taunton Castle, which houses the hotel in one wing, is the site of England’s earliest fortress. It dates back to 200 years before any written historical records.

In 710 the King of Wessex—conqueror, lawgiver, and church reformer—built a wooden castle here. A record of it exists in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, the earliest history written in any modern language. Twelve years later, the castle burned down and was rebuilt. Queen Frithogytha of the West Saxons granted the property to the bishops of Winchester. King Alfred is said to have stayed here at this time. In 1001 the Danes burned down the castle and town. By the time of the Norman Conquest, in 1066, another castle had taken its place.

At the end of the 15th century, Perkin Warbeck pretended that he was Richard, duke of York (the youngest of the child princes murdered in the Tower of London). With the support of the duke of Burgundy and the kings of Germany, Scotland, and France, Warbeck attempted to invade England and failed. He tried a second time and failed again. During one of his invasions, he succeeded in capturing Taunton Castle and proclaimed himself King Richard IV. Henry VII brought his army to Taunton and captured Warbeck, who later met his fate at the Tower of London.

Almost 200 years later, in 1685, the duke of Monmouth, an illegitimate son of Charles II, came to Taunton and proclaimed himself king. He was defeated at the nearby Battle of Sedgemoor, and he and his men were executed in the streets of Taunton by the infamous and bloodthirsty Judge Jeffrey.

The castle was eventually dismantled, and almost 300 years ago part of it was turned into a hotel. The hotel has hosted Queen Victoria, King Edward VII, King Edward VIII, a former queen of Portugal, the Queen Mother, and Princess Margaret. Other guests have included the duke of Wellington, Coleridge, and Disraeli.

Pamela’s Perspective

Unlike many castle hotels in England, the Castle at Taunton is right in the middle of town, convenient for shopping and eating out. (Don’t worry, you won’t hear any street noise inside the hotel.) I like the location of Taunton: access is easy to the sights of England’s South West.

The best months to see the gorgeous wisteria blooming on the castle’s façade are April through June.

The hotel’s famed restaurant is a dressy (and expensive) affair. The Brazz is the hotel’s more informal restaurant, or you can sample the town’s offerings right outside the door.


The Castle at Taunton

An 11th-century castle


Castle Green, Taunton,
Somerset TA1 1NF
Tel: ++44 (0)1823 272671
Fax: ++44 (0)1823 336066
Hotel website
Reserve with

Fast facts

44 rooms; 6 suites

Double rooms: £157–250
Rates include breakfast and VAT

Open: all year

Getting there

Taunton is easily reached by the M-5 motorway. The castle is located in the center of town. Taunton is linked by train to London’s Paddington Station.

What to do

Nearby: Exmoor National Park; Wells Cathedral, and Glastonbury Abbey—the legendary burial site of King Arthur and Guinevere.


A romantic English country hotel, Taunton is most known for the gorgeous lavender wisteria that covers the entire front façade. Still, enough medieval touches remain to remind you that the castle once had a turbulent history.

Guest rooms have floral fabrics or mahogany and walnut accents, and many feature four-poster canopy beds and antique furnishings. Thoughtful touches such as small bouquets of flowers and miniature bottles of sherry are found in each room.

The Bow Suite, named for its position just above the castle bow, contains a master bedroom, two bathrooms, and a sitting room with a fireplace.

The restaurant’s dining room—with its high ceilings, chandeliers, tall windows draped with velvet curtains, and tables covered with white cloths—is known for its cuisine and extensive wine cellar.

Something special


curlicueAn award-winning restaurant