Things To See and Do
Welcome to Totnes Castle
We have introduced limits on visitor numbers to help keep everyone safe, and you won’t be able to visit without your booking confirmation. If you’re a Member, your ticket will be free, but you still need to book in advance. To book your visit, click here.
Although things might be a little different when you visit, you’ll still be able to enjoy exploring the places where history really happened. And you’ll still be given a warm and safe welcome by our friendly – if socially distant – staff and volunteers.
- We’ve introduced new measures at Totnes Castle to keep you safe on your visit. One-way routes might be in place, and parts of the site may be closed to help with social distancing. New signs will be in place to point you in the right direction, and our friendly team will be on hand to help with any questions you might have.
- Castle - Entry to the castle will be limited to guided tours. These will run daily at 10:00, 12:00, 14:00 and 15:30. Your time in the Castle will be limited to your tour.
- Shop - The shop will be open, but there will be limits on the number of people allowed in. A one-way route may also be in place.
- Face coverings - Face coverings must be worn in Totnes Castle's indoor shop and all other indoor spaces. We won’t be able to give you a face covering, so please come prepared so you don’t miss out.
Climb the Steps
Climb the steps of the castle keep and you are rewarded with breathaking views across the town of Totnes and the River Dart. You can trace the development of the town through the centuries in the architecture of the buildings - can you pick out High Street, Saxon in origin flanked by the Butterwalk and Poultry Walk, which indicate the site of an early market place.
The Castle Keep
Originally the castle was an earthwork and timber construction but in the early 13th century, the shell keep was built to crown the mound and was later rebuilt and this is what you can see today. Circular in shape, it is one of the best preserved of the three such keeps in Devon and you can still see the defensive arrow slits and battlements if you look closely.
The Saxon town of Totnes
Totnes Castle commands a dominant position overlooking the town of Totnes. From Saxon times, the town developed crafts, industries and a mint issuing coins to become an extremely prosperous centre for trade. Today it is still a thriving town, popular with the artistic community with a great range of independent shops, cafes and galleries, all within easy walking distance of the castle.
A Home for Powerful Rulers
Thought to have been built by Juhel, a commander in William the Conquerer's army, the castle passed through the ownership of Henry, son of the Earl of Cornwall and the de la Zouche family whose main estates lay in Northamptonshire. It later passed to Sir Richard Edgecombe of Cotehele, located on the Cornwall border. Find out more about this history in the guide book.
Relax in the Bailey
Step into the courtyard or bailey and find yourself in a grassed area sheltered by trees. Centuries ago, this would have bustled with activity and was crammed with timber buildings including accommodation for the Garrison. Today you can enjoy a peaceful picnic or escape the hustle of the town centre. Can you spot the graffiti on the tree carved by prisoners during the Second World War?
The Moat Walk
Once you have explored the castle keep and bailey, take a walk around the outside wall of the castle to see the steep sided ditch and outer bank which would have formed part of the original defences for the entrance. Now covered in wild flowers and plants, it is a beautiful walk giving you a sense of how it would have looked centuries ago.
A Sheltered Spot
One of the ancient trees standing in the bailey of the castle is a Holm Oak, thought to be over 150 years old and reaching to the height of the castle keep. Offering a sheltered spot for visitors to relax and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere, it is a fine example of this beautiful tree whose name is the ancient word for holly.