Berry Pomeroy Castle, now a romantic ruin, is a Tudor mansion within the walls of an earlier castle. It is located near the village of Berry Pomeroy, in south Devon, England.
The castle was built by the Pomeroy family in the late 15th century which had held the land for over 400 years. By 1547 the family was in financial difficulties and sold the lands to Edward Seymour, the 1st Duke of Somerset.
Shortly after the Norman conquest of England, the Pomeroy family held the large feudal barony of Berry Pomeroy. The first documented reference to a castle does not appear until 1496 when Elizabeth, widow of Pomeroy, was assigned a third of both the castles and the capital messuage.
Archaeological evidence indicates that the castle was probably built in the late 15th century. It was one of the last traditional personal castles built in the country.
In 1547 Edward Seymour, Lord Protector to the young King Edward VI bought the castle from Sir Thomas Pomeroy. As Lord Protector Seymour made a lot of enemies and was ousted by the Earl of Warwick and beheaded on a charge of treason on January 22nd, 1552. After his death in 1593, his lands passed to his son, another Edward, who added the North Range to the castle in 1600.
It is believed that the castle was bombarded by cannon fire from the hillside during the Civil War, or it was destroyed by a huge fire after being struck by lightning. However, excavations in the 19th century uncovered no indication of either of these supposed fates but show evidence that the buildings were systematically stripped of reusable materials shortly after demolition.
The castle is considered as one of the most haunted castles in Britain. There are numerous legends associated with the castle and one of them is about two female ghosts which haunt the castle. The ghosts are called the White Lady and the Blue Lady. The Blue Lady is not confined to specific areas of the castle. It is said that she beckon from help by passers-by, luring them to her tower. If they go to her, it is said they fall to their death.
Locals believe that she was the daughter of a Norman lord who wanders the dungeons mourning the loss of her baby, which she murdered as it was sired by her own father. The White Lady is the spirit of Margaret Pomeroy, who was imprisoned in the dungeons by her sister Eleanor.
According to the legend, Eleanor was jealous of her sister’s beauty and because of that, she locked her in the dungeons. The extremely rare archaeological remains show the exact placement of these original buildings. In 1978, a Wall painting was discovered in the upper storey of the gatehouse which represents the Adoration of the Magi and has been dated to 1490. Between 1980 and 1996 the castle was subjected to extensive archaeological excavations, fully documented in the 1996 volume of Devon Archaeological Society Proceedings.
Today, the castle is owned by the Duke of Somerset, though it is administered by English Heritage.
It is a Grade I listed building that can be approached by a modern half-mile long wooden drive that runs alongside the original drive which is visible as an earthwork in the adjacent woods.