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.