Okehampton has the distinction of being the largest castle in Devon and there is plenty to explore onsite. Before proceeding on our tour, I will begin with a brief overview of its history.
Okehampton was founded in the late eleventh century after the Norman Conquest by Baldwin de Brionne as a motte and bailey castle with a stone keep. It later passed into the ownership of the Courtenay earls of Devon, with Hugh Courtenay responsible for rebuilding much of the castle in the early fourteenth century. After the execution of Edward Courtenay for treason by Henry VIII in 1539, Okehampton gradually fell into decay and became a picturesque ruin.
The castle is entered through a barbican, which leads via a passageway up to the Gatehouse.
This leads to the bailey, with the Great Hall, Buttery, and kitchens located on the west side, which primarily date from the fourteenth century.
Whereas the other side of the bailey contains the Eastern Lodgings, Chapel, Priest’s Lodging, and Western Lodgings.
The Motte is the most prominent feature of the castle, which is some 25 metres tall, with the eleventh century keep expanded in size in the fourteenth century.
Okehampton was once adjoined by a huge deer park some 1,700 acres in size, and there are some nice walks around the castle that can be explored.
This concludes my tour of Okehampton Castle, if you have any feedback or suggestions for future tours then feel free to leave a comment!
The site is managed by English Heritage and there is an entrance fee.
Alan Endacott, Okehampton Castle (London: English Heritage, 2005)
All photographs taken by Dan Spencer ©