A pair of what were once much larger castles, Bickleigh Castle and Tiverton Castle were both largely destroyed during the English Civil War in the mid 1600s. There still remains plenty of interest though as they have adapted to the changing circumstances.
Parts of both date back to Norman times in the 1100s, but the bulk of Bickleigh Castle dates from the 15th century, when the Courtenay family built a mansion. By the start of the 20th century though the remaining buildings were used as a farm store and cottage. They have now been restored and are primarily used for flash weddings for up to 120 guests, with up to 40 able to stay onsite in the numerous buildings.
It’s not huge but there a fair amount to see inside, including many reminders of the Civil War.
Outside are pleasant gardens, the remains of the moat, and various cottages and other buildings.
The most interesting part was the chapel, which potentially is the oldest complete building in Devon, dating back 1,400 years in places, though it has been modified and restored since. It would be a lovely spot for a wedding but as a family chapel the Church of England will only allow the owners or people who works at Bickleigh Castle to be married there. Everyone else gets married in the large room above, and has a blessing in the chapel.
Tiverton Castle was built in the 1100s and enlarged in the 13th and 14th centuries to be a major fortification. General Sir Thomas Fairfax lay siege to it during the English Civil War, which was much shorter than the defendants hoped, after a lucky shot broken the drawbridge chain and allowed troops into the castle. Some of the original castle walls remain.
The gardens are quite lovely, full of colour.
Inside the gate house, also the main surviving building at Bickleigh Castle, is history including the Civil War and a medieval long drop toilet.