Totnes Castle, dating back to Norman times, can be seen in tantalizing glimpses from virtually all over town. Here it is, giving you rather more than a glimpse:
Its circular stone keep has walls fifteen feet thick and the mound (or motte) on which it is built rises over fifty feet from the bailey below. The inner bailey was once surrounded by a deep moat and there used to be a chapel and a large hall within the bailey. There was plenty of space to accommodate a large contingent of men and horses, along with all their stores, but by the fifteenth century it was solely used as an occasional administrative centre for Totnes. For example, The Assize of Bread and Ale took place in the castle.
In case you’re wondering, an assize was a 13th century statute in late medieval English law, regulating the price, quality and weight of the bread and beer manufactured and sold in hamlets, villages and towns.
As I live within a few yards of the Castle, it is a useful landmark to tell my visitors who are new to Totnes to look out for when trying to find my house in the slightly bewildering traffic system we have here! It is the one building that you’d think nobody could possibly miss as it dominates the town from its lofty height. (But some people do manage to miss it!)
In an earlier post I told of the way May Day is celebrated up there at daybreak annually on 1st May, so I won’t go into that again here. I’ll just mention that I don’t always welcome the steep climb up to the Castle at 5.30 am!
Here are a few of the tantalizing glimpses of Totnes Castle from here, there and everywhere:
How would you like to have a haircut here?
A stranger in town? There it is again, on the horizon:
And finally, over the tree tops from China Blue:
One thing’s certain – being a near-neighbour of Totnes Castle, I should never have a problem finding my way home!