Things to see and do
The Hungerford Family
The castle has a long and dramatic history linked to the fortunes of the Crown and Parliament. Sir Thomas Hungerford was elected as the First Speaker of the House of Commons and his son was knighted by Henry IV, later fighting at Agincourt after which he received the Knighthood of the Garter. However in the War of the Roses, the family lost their lives and their castle to the Crown.
The Crypt and Lead Coffins
Underneath the chapel is a burial vault which holds the best collection of human shaped lead coffins in Britain. The coffins still contain the embalmed remains of four men, two women and two children, thought to be members of the Hungerford family.
If you look closely you can see that some have faces moulded onto them - death masks cast from the faces of the deceased - a chilling glimpse into the past.
The Priest's House
Built in 1430 to accommodate the chantry priest, The Priest's House later became a dairy and then a famhouse after the Reformation. Today it houses an exhibition of the history of the castle and you can see displays of Hungerford armour, a model of the castle and a collection of finds from the castle, as well as pictures of the castle from different periods.
Tour the Towers
Two towers still remain visible providing clues as to their circular design which would have had a spiral staircase to reach the five stories. Patches of the plasterwork still exist. The South West or Lady Tower, which is the tallest surviving tower, is reputed to be the site of imprisonment of Lady Elizabeth Hungerford by her husband in the 1530s.
Pass through the lovely garden and the gateway to see a carving of the Hungerford badge as you move towards the chapel. Inside you can see the faded wall paintings, carved family tombs and grave slab as well as the beautiful stained glass windows.
Still used for local events, this chapel has a pulpit and altarpiece carved from timberwork salvaged from the state rooms of the original castle.
Civil War at Farleigh
A General in the Civil War, Sir Edward Hungerford III was reputed to be a poor commander of men and abandoned his troops often. The castle itself was targeted several times and in 1645 surrendered after Parliament's New Model Army took nearby Bath and Bristol. Little damage was done to the castle and control was later taken back by Sir Edward.
Take the audio tour to find out more.
Take the Audio Tour
The free audio tour describes the role which the Hungerford family and the castle played in history as well as taking you to key points of interest around the site. Stories include the spendthrift Sir Edward Hungerford IV gambling away a manor on a single throw at a bowling match, through to the murder and burning of John Cotell in the castle kitchen.
A Perfect Picnic Spot
The grounds inside the battlements and gatehouse provide a lovely sheltered spot for a family picnic. The flat grassed areas are ideal places to enjoy the far ranging countryside and views across the River Frome. Pick up some cold drinks, ice creams and snacks from the shop and maybe take home a souvenir jam, chutney, wine or liqueur.