It was a place of note in Saxon times serving as a frontier fortress against the Celts and Northmen.
The Domesday Book states that it belonged to Aluric in the time of Edward the Confessor when it was known as Torre, a fortified tower. It then became Dunestorre, later shortened to Dunster; the Dun or Dune signifying a ridge of m ountains stretching towards the coast. After the Norman invasion, Dunster and other properties were granted to William de Mohun. Of the Norman castle no trace remains; the oldest surviving feature is the thirteenth century Gateway to the lower ward. In 1376 L ad y Jo a n de M ohun sold Dunster to Lady Elizabeth Luttrell, to whose descendants it belonged until the present century. In 1617 George Luttrell engaged William Arnold to design a new house in the lower ward o f the Castle. During the Commonwealth the fortifications were demolished, though fortunately the Jacobean mansion was spared. It was refurbished in the 1680s by Colonel Erancis Luttrell who installed fine plasterwork ceilings and a m agnificent staircase. The eighteenth century additions were swept away by George Fownes Luttrell and his architect, Anthony Salvin, in 1868 -72. Salvin gave the house its castellated appearance by adding two great towers with turrets and battlements. In the centre of the park (south) front he added the lofty tower with a draw ing room on the ground floor and three storeys of bedrooms above. He remodelled the entrance (north) fafad e, rebuilding the porch and enlarging the west wing with a new kitchen in its basement, and a comprehensive range of domestic offices in the low wing extending to the gatew ay. The appearance of the house before these alterations is recorded in watercolour drawings by J . Buckler, two of which are illustrated in the guidebook. In 1976 the Castle and park were given to The National Trust by Lt.Colonel Walter Luttrell, M .C . The walk from the stables up to the house is described on pages 29 to 31. The entrance to the house is deemed to face north and the park front, south.
the President of the Royal Geographical Society,remarked in his address at the Anniversary Meeting, 29th May, 1922,that the time had arrived for the emer gence of a new type of explorer—viz. the Homeland explorer,who will explore, observe and describe his own homeland
.In this direction he noted that Thomas Hardy and Maurice Hewlett had made Wessex and Sussex known In is Encouraged by these examples I have endeavoured, magno intervallo no doubt, to throw some light upon what may be termed“
”This is a point in which all Devonians” and, indeed, dwellers in the three western counties of Somerset, Devon and Cornwall may be especially interested.
“ Dumnonia,” like “ Demetia ” and “ Demetica regio," is a very ancient geographical termand the Dumnonii certainly go back to Roman times and were noted for their sea faring qualities.
In King Alfred’s time “ Dumnonia” was used by the King’s Biographer, Bishop Asser,and would certainly mean a good deal more than we now mean by the County of Devon which meets Somerset at Countisbury Gate and Exmoor.
But until we are sure of the exact meaning of, say, " Dumnonia ” and “ Demetica regio ” how can we follow King Alfred’s great Danish campaign of 878 ?
Historical problems wait for their real solution upon the proper explanation of geographical terms.Many disputes have turned and still turn upon the exact site of Cynuit and Ethandune, two very momentous fights in our island history.
There is an EdingtonDumnonia Ancient Dumnonia.what time the existing boundaries between West Somerset and North Devon were universally acknowledged is not clear and this uncertainty,dating far back in County annals,has continued even up to modern times.
Florence of Worcester (a.d. 1118) in his Chronicle,when recording the Danish Foray up the Severn Sea in a .d . 997,described it as made upon " Watchet in Devonshire.” Watchet or Wacet, the small Saxon port on the north coast of Somerset,lies many miles within the County borders and, in Domesday (1086) was certainly located within the County as a place of ancient importance.Moreover,in the Somerset Exchequer Lay Subsidies Watchet figured as a Somerset “ Burgus ” or Burgh.
There was the same popular uncertainty about Exmoor and Exmoor Forest,that well-known Royal preserve, which,according to all records we have of Forest Courts and Forest proceedings from the earliest times,was always reckoned a Somerset Forest.This undoubted fact seems to have been lout sight of, or forgotten,when,in the days of Charles I Kmlymion Porter,a Court favourite asked for Simonsbath ioi a porquisite for himself describing it in his application as lying “ within Devon.”Even Sir Henry Spelman in his < 'dialogue of Royal Forests, c. 1670,places Exmoor in Devon.1 I *SV<; Spelman’s Glossary “ Forestae.”2 Dumnonia In this particular case of Exmoor Forest where the Devon Parishes of Countisbury and Brendon and,it may be added, Lynton, and Parracombe, are so close to the north-west corner of the Forest,and Devon landowners and farmers have for so long exercised Common rights on the Forest and along its “ purlieus,” some confusion may be natural. It was a question about which many appeared to be ill-informed or careless.The antiquary Leland knew the boundaries hereabouts when he wrote in his Itinery (a .d . 1538) :“ The bounds of Somersetshire go beyond the stream (i.e. the Barle) one way by north west a 2 miles or more to a plain called the Spanne and the Tourres ;for there be hillocks of yerth cast up of auncient tyme for markes and Limites between Somersetshire and Devonshire and hereabout is the Limes and Bounds of Exmoor Forest.” This would be in the neighbourhood of what is now called “ The Duck-Pool Allotment ” and “ Moles Chamber,” and “ Shoulsbury Castle,” the latter being in Devonshire.But leaving one antiquary for another what can be said of the learned Sir William Dugdale who, in his Epitome of the “ Monasticon,” locates the alien Priory of Stoke Courcy in Devonshire whereas it lay close to the mouth of the River Parret ?] Or what indeed, to the Reverend Richard Warner of Bath, a west country topographer and pedestrian in his day, who when crossing the Parret at Comwich during one of his “ Walks ” to the West (1800),noticed what he termed the “ hills of Devon ” as seen from Comwich Passage,meaning - surely the Qpantock Hills or, perhaps the “ triple-crowned ” Dunkery, all in Somerset.To this day, indeed, many visitors to the West think or speak of Exmoor as lying in Devonshire.The very expression of “ The Devon and Somerset stag hounds ” fosters the illusion although, as a matter of fact,neither the runs or meets of the pack take place as a rule,within Devon,but almost always within the accepted borders of Somerset. There is, we believe, some grounds for these historical uncertainties about the geography of North Devon and West 1.See Strachey’s List of Religious Houses in Somersetshire—Stoke Courey.Ancient Dumnonia 3Humor,not, both countries appearing to have fallen largely within the bounds of one geographical term that covered both, ill any rate as far as the mouth of the Parret, if not further on i and the term was a general one,viz. “ Dumnonia,” pre- norvod in the ancient “ Dyffneint” We feel sure that, in King Alfred’s time,when the biographer Asser spoke of Dumnonia ” he meant a larger geographical term than what l« meant now by Devonshire.The block of country along the Nurl, 1 1 Somerset Coast, comprising the Hundreds of Canning- luii, VVilliton and Carhampton,all Royal Hundreds at Domesday, may have been a debateable region.Exmoor Forest wan a kind of non-Parochial area, and indeed, it was not until I h l m that Exmoor Parish,as an ecclesiastical unit, was called Into being, after the Royal Forest passed by purchase into private hands, the buyer being Mr. John Knight of Worcester shire.In the twelfth century there was an “ Archdeacon ul Heyond Parret,” so described, meaning the present Arch- deacunry of Taunton. The whole question of the evolution u| a " Shire” is interesting especially as Somerset and Dorset Inn I I liu same Shire Reeve (sheriff) up to 1566. Asser, in King Alliol I i mo describes the county as “ Summurtunensis Paga ” in r e gion round Somerton (Sea-moor Town). He also men- liimi a “ Coorl Dumnoniae Comes” who with the help of Diinmonii fought in 851 against the Pagans at Wicgambeorg, * r Wigborough near South Petherton. At Domesday (1086) wn «l and upon clearer ground although even then the “ Shire ” In iiuI i ii definitely stated as we might expect. (>1 certain well-known border families it might be said in i iih way that they hardly knew whether to call themselves I Invi in or Somerset. Ancient place-names such as Wootton- I 'mirli>imy under Dunkery, recall the family of Courtenay, beil known at Powderham Castle in South Devon: Cut- eiiiiibe Mohun, the original Domesday possession of the Mohuns of I lim iter Castle, reminds us also of the Mohuns of Oke- l.i..ttpl<>n in the Dartmoor country : Cutcombe-Raleigh the liwrllagn of the Nettlecombe Raleighs on the Brendons, bor- dmlnu: mi ICxmoor, (a kindred branch, surely, of the Raleighs wlio lived at Challacombe-Raleigh, not far from Barnstaple), ill lent (lie ramification of a family equally rooted in Devon
BLUE ANCHOR — CLEEVE ABBEY In the churchyard is a tall Cross, standing on a lofty Calvary, the whole restored in 1909 after m utilation in Cromwellian times. Close by is the tombstone o f a blacksmith, whose calling is described in the epitaph (also found in various other parts o f the country). On the hill above, by the wayside, is the base of another cross, called Cliddon's Cross. From the road to Blue Anchor from Cleeve may be seen a little distance away the old sixteenth-century manor-house of Binham, now a farmhouse, and a little farther is the lodge—a pretty thatched cottage—of the mansion of Chapel Cleeve. Here are remains of an ancient chapel connected with the Abbey of Old Cleeve. Up to the time of Edward IV a chapel stood on the cliff above Blue Anchor, but it was ruined by a landslip, the image of the Virgin alone remaining in its place uninjured. In recognition of this miraculous preservation King Edward granted a charter for a market or fair, the proceeds of which were to be used for the maintenance of the new chapel built farther inland. Some remnants of this later chapel can still be seen in the grounds of Chapel Cleeve. Blue Anchor is a small hamlet on the edge of the sea, from which it is protected by a substantial stone wall and promenade. The alabaster rocks along the shore to the east are worth a visit, and many interesting fossils are to be found along the beach. There is good bathing, and excellent facilities for camping are offered. Sites and furnished huts can be hired. CLEEVE ABBEY Open November-February, 9.30 a.m .-4 p.m.; M arch-April, October, 9.30 a.m .- 5.30 p.m.; May-September, 9.30 a.m .-7 p.m. Sundays from 2 p.m. Admission charge. The Abbey is about a mile south-east from Old Cleeve. W alkers may reach it by passing Cliddon’s Cross and taking the old paved m onks’ path. From M inehead itcan be reached by driving along the Bridgwater road to Washford and then turning to the right, or taking the train to Washford. Free car park. Cleeve Abbey, “the ecclesiastical gem of the district,” was founded in 1198 for Cistercian monks by William de Romara, youngest son of the Earl of Lincoln, and dedicated to “Our Blessed Lady of the Cliff,” in the ninth year of Richard I, the valley in which it stands being styled in monkish records “Vallis Florida”, or “the flowery valley”. The