Things to see in Compton Castle garden
The garden at Compton Castle is small but perfectly formed, its character and appearance changing with the seasons. Among the highlights are a medieval-style knot garden, a rose garden and an orchard, and its different areas reflect the many lives of the building set in the middle of it. Take your time wandering around and enjoy the variety of plants, sights and smells.
Compton Castle is now closed for winter
Thanks for all your support this year. Compton Castle is now closed for the season and will reopen in April 2024. We look forward to welcoming you back then.
Lawns and orchards
As you arrive at Compton Castle the tidy lawns either side of the central path, bordered with lavender, are the first thing you see. This sunny spot is home to traditional games such as croquet and quoits if you fancy a game, or you're welcome to just relax on the lawn. Through a gateway at the bottom left of the lawn is an orchard where apple trees blossom in spring and grow fruitful with apples in autumn.
Spot the squirrels
The squirrel is significant to Compton Castle as it was the name of the ship Sir Humphrey Gilbert sailed on to found the first English colony in Newfoundland in 1583 in the name of Queen Elizabeth I.
As you explore this treasured family home, can you spot any squirrels?
Rose garden and knot garden
Steps at the top left of the lawns lead you to the rose garden. In the summer months the heady smell of roses and scented wisteria hits you before you finish climbing the steps, and then the sight of many roses climbing the pergola and lining the paths takes your breath away.
Look out for the Armillary Sphere in the rose garden which was forged in 1983 to mark the 400th anniversary of Sir Humphrey Gilbert’s colonisation of Newfoundland, and take a seat on the bench by the pond for a quiet moment to take it all in. The knot garden also commemorates this as at its heart is a squirrel statue, inspired by Sir Humphrey's ship The Squirrel.
Picnic in the orchard
Whatever the time of year, a picnic in the orchard is a must-do when visiting Compton Castle. In the spring you can lunch under the blossom of the apple trees, in the summer soak up the sunshine and race around the trails mown into the long grass, and in the autumn look for apples ripening on the trees.
Inside the castle
You may meet volunteers dressed in Tudor outfits. In the Medieval Kitchen herbs from the herb garden are laid out – crush these in the pestle and mortar to release their aroma.
The garden, planned by the Gilbert family and now cared for by a National Trust gardener and a team of volunteers, has grown through public donations and events.
Additions such as the pergola in 2001 and the planting of the medieval-style Knot Garden in 2003 wouldn't have been possible without public support, and that is true to this day.
Funds raised through admissions income and donations go directly towards the care and upkeep of the Castle and garden. In 2022 we installed new oak benches carved locally with the Gilbert Coat of Arms thanks to funds raised at Compton Castle.
Step inside this fortified medieval manor, complete with a Great Hall and a sub solar, and learn about the lives of people that once called it home.
Follow the changing fortunes of this medieval castle, home to the Gilbert family for over 600 years, though its periods of disrepair and restoration.
Learn about volunteering at Compton Castle and other properties on the English Riviera in Devon, including the opportunities available and how to get involved.
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