Exploring Compton Castle
A rare survivor, this fortified medieval manor house with high curtain walls, towers and a portcullis, set in a landscape of rolling hills and orchards, is a mixture of romance and history. Wander round this charming small castle's medieval kitchen, Great Hall, Solar and Sub Solar.
Explore the Great Hall
In 1931 the castle was in complete ruin, and the Great Hall needed complete restoration. It remained roofless until 1955, but is now a light and impressive room. On chilly days apple wood burns on the fire, filling the hall with aromatic smells. Look out for a model of Sir Humphrey Gilbert's ship the Squirrel in this room: in 1583, in the name of Queen Elizabeth I, Sir Humphrey Gilbert colonised Newfoundland
The Great Hall is also home to a table top shop where you can pick up a memento of your visit.
See the Sub Solar and Solar
This Solar was originally a cellar but in 1450, when the family wanted more space, this whole block to the west of the Great Hall was rebuilt. The ceiling was raised to make a comfortable new room. A climb up the fifteenth century staircase leads to the Solar; in large medieval houses the Solar was a private living room away from the noise of the Great Hall.
Step back in time in the medieval kitchen
Don't miss the defences
No castle is complete without its defences. The manor was enlarged in the 1450s and then fortified in response to French raids on Plymouth in the 1520s. A close eye could be kept on the two portcullises from the lookout holes close to the ground, and arrows fired through loop holes, kept attackers at bay. Anyone that got through and climbed the walls met stones or boiling oil thrown down holes high up on the walls.
To the right of the hearth, the kitchen opens into one of the inner towers originally built to help defend the castle. The tower has several floors and the room directly above may have been used as a guard room.