The site of Dunster Castle has been occupied for over a thousand years.
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 mountains 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 Lady Joan de Mohun 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 of 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 magnificent 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 drawing room on the ground floor and three storeys of bedrooms above.
He remodelled the entrance (north) fafade, 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 gateway.
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