Cleeve Abbey and Dunster Castle
Apr 7, 2012
|It must be a bank holiday in England its raining! Through again the narrow country lanes we headed for Cleeve Abbey.
Cleeve Abbey was founded in the late 12th century as a house for the Cistercian monks. The abbey continued until 1536 when it was one of the first abbeys closed by Henry VIII in the course of the Dissolution of the Monasteries. Today it is considered one of the best-preserved medieval Cistercian monastic sites in Britain.
As we entered the site we passed through the original gatehouse. It was here that the poor received food and clothing but admittance to the abbey was limited.
We then explored the site. The original abbey no longer stands but the 'angel' roof in the refectory was just magnificent and the wall paintings in the painted chamber although faded now gave some indication of how brilliant they originally were. English Heritage has preserved much of the Abbey’s key features. The most striking were the ceramic payment tiles with heralds of the benefactors of the abbey. This was the floor of the original refectory and dates back to around the 13th century.
For lunch we stopped at a local cider producers. We resisted the tasting opportunity but enjoyed watching the farms baby pigs and mum.
It was still grey and damp so we decided to head to Dunster and Dunster Castle. It was very busy due to the Easter weekend.
Dunster Castle sits on a wooded hill called the Tor and there has in fact been a castle on the site since just after the Norman conquest of England in 1066 when William de Mohun constructed a timber castle. At the end of the 14th century the de Mohuns sold the now stone castle to the Luttrell family who continued to occupy the property until 1976. Therefore twenty-one generations of Luttrells and their descendents had lived at the castle.
The castle over time has been extended and remodelled several times. The appearance seen today was a result of the architect Anthony Salvin who changed the castle in the 1860s and 1870s to fit Victorian taste and made the castle look more gothic.
The one benefit of touring the house was the spectacular views from the windows of the Bristol Channel and the surrounding countryside. The gardens were also very interesting as there were many tropical plants due to the sheltered position within the walls.
After touring the castle we wandered down into the historic village of Dunster for a cream tea before heading back.