After our trip to Stoney Littleton Long Barrow, we decided to head down to Fairleigh Hungerford Castle which can be found in the village of the same name located on the Somerset/Wiltshire border about 9 miles from the city of Bath. It was only a 10 minute drive so it seemed like a good idea to pop in while we were in the area. The site is run by English Heritage and is a Grade I listed building.
Most of the site is now ruined with only foundations visible in the inner courtyard, however, there are the outer walls along with the shells of 2 towers on the South Western and South Eastern corners respectively. The most complete of these is the South West or ‘Lady Tower’ which was so named as the site where Lady Elizabeth Hungerford was believed to have been held prisoner by her husband.
The castle was purchased in the 1300s by Sir Thomas Hungerford who built phase 1 of the castle on the site of an existing manor house, the second phase was completed later in the 1400s by Sir Walter Hungerford who extended the castle by building an outer court which also enveloped the local chapel. The chapel is an interesting place to visit, with medieval murals still visible on the walls and in a small chapel in the North sept where you can visit the 17th-century tombs of members of the Hungerford family.
Behind the chapel is the Priest’s house which is still intact and now houses a museum and also interestingly there is an old crypt which houses some lead coffins. These were apparently pretty commonplace during the late 16th and 17th Centuries but are now quite rare and the collection there is said to be one of the best collections within the UK. They were actually pretty creepy.
Car parking is free but you will be asked to pay for entry or you can join English Heritage here if you wish. Audio guides and guidebooks are available in the gift shop.