Woodhouse Castle

Woodhouse Castle

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 historical records.

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 were 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 May 1643.

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 canons. Such was the damage that it is unlikely that the castle was ever inhabited again after the Civil War attack.

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 by law in that it can not be altered or disturbed in any way.

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 to the public is not allowed.

Woodhouse Castle Map

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