History of Woodhouse Castle
Reputed to have once been the largest
fortified manor house in the West of England, it is amazing
that so little remains – not only of the structure but also in
It would appear that the first structure
dates back to after the Norman Conquest in 1066, when it was
given to one of King William’s knights, Sir John Vernon.
Subsequently the Manor House and surrounding
lands was owned by the same family for over 400 years. By the
17th Century it had passed into the hands of the powerful
landowners, the Arundell family from Wardour.
Lord Arundell was a prominent catholic at
the time of the English Civil War, so Woodhouse Castle became a
prime target. Parliamentary forces under the command of Major
Wansey, a watchmaker from Warminster, captured the castle on 1
A year later in July 1644, Francis
Doddington under the command of Sir Ralph Hopton retook the
castle for the Royalist cause.
In a ferocious battle, the castle walls were bombarded by canon. Such was the
damage that it is unlikely that the castle was ever inhabited again after the Civil War
Most of the rubble from the remains was used to build the adjacent farmhouse,
and the new Manor House for the Arundell family, which is now on the far side of Horningsham next
to the Church.
Very little remains of Woodhouse Castle today
The ruins have become overgrown and very, very slowly nature is reclaiming the
stone structure that has stood on the site for over 800 years. The site is now a scheduled monument
so it is protected in law in that it can not be altered or disturbed in anyway.
Woodhouse Castle is located on private property, a part of the
Longleat Estate. The owners have decided that because of the condition of the castle and for health
and safety reasons, access for the public is not allowed.
Woodhouse Castle Map
Woodhouse Castle in a larger map