Totnes Castle is one of the best preserved examples of a Norman motte and bailey castle in England It is situated in the town of Totnes on the River Dart in Devon.
The castle occupies a commanding position atop a large hill above the town, and guards the approach to three valleys. The surviving stone keep and curtain wall date from around the 13th century.
The first castle on this site is believed to have been built by Juhel (aka Judhael) who was one of William the Conqueror’s lieutenants. The manor of Totnes was granted to him in 1068, and in order to cement his control over the area he constructed a fortification and founded a priory within the town. However, this first construction probably consisted of a wooden palisade and tower..
On the death of William I, Juhel lost his lands, possibly as a result of his support for a rebellion in 1088. The manor of Totnes was then granted to Roger de Nonant, who’s descendants appear to have held the manor for the next three generations. Following this it came into the possession of William de Braose, who is probably responsible for constructing the first stone fortifications on the site.
By 1326 the castle had fallen into ruin and was under the control the de la Zouch family. During this period a royal order was made for the repair of the fortifications. As a result of the order, the castle was refortified, a stable constructed and a constable appointed. However, following the War of the Roses it once again fell into disrepair.
The castle was occupied for a period during the English Civil War but saw no notable action. Since 1984 the castle has been under the stewardship of English Heritage.
The castle is open to the public on the following dates: 1 April – 30 September 10.00 am - 6.00 pm. 1st - 31st October 10.00 am - 5.00pm daily. Closed 1 November - 31 March. There is a modest entrance fee but education visits are free if booked in advance.