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Dunster Castle

Castle entrance to far right
Cas­tle entrance to far right

A cas­tle has exist­ed for over 1,000 years at the top of a hill in Dun­ster Vil­lage, near Mine­head, Eng­land in the west coun­ty of Som­er­set — ini­tial­ly as a Sax­on fortress and lat­er a coun­try house in the Vic­to­ri­an era. The old­est sur­viv­ing part of ear­li­er build­ings is the 13th cen­tu­ry gate­way. The view from the top of the grounds is the Bris­tol Chan­nel and across to Wales.

The coun­try estate we saw was remod­eled between 1868–1872 for the Lut­trell fam­i­ly, res­i­dents for 600 years. The fam­i­ly con­tin­ued to live in the cas­tle until the late 20th cen­tu­ry. As in many grand fam­i­ly estates in Britain, the “death tax­es” owed on such prop­er­ties when par­ents die can be impos­si­ble for the next gen­er­a­tion to pay. Ulti­mate­ly in 1976, Colonel Wal­ter Lut­trell gave the cas­tle and most of its con­tents to the Nation­al Trust.

Own­ers need vast resources to main­tain such elab­o­rate estates and the grounds, lands, and labyrinth of build­ings that often exist. Some fam­i­lies donate the estate to the Nation­al Trust or oth­er char­i­ty and arrange to stay on in a por­tion of the build­ings and even con­tin­ue to run the estate with the help of the Trust’s assets. The Trust offers a whole net­work of his­tor­i­cal hol­i­day accom­mo­da­tion to the pub­lic, thus pro­vid­ing a mech­a­nism to keep alive an impor­tant part of British his­to­ry and cul­ture.

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Nation­al Trust Cot­tages

 

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