Nunney Castle is a moated castle which was built during the 1370’s by Sir John de la Mere. Sir John was a local knight who was beginning to enjoy royal favour. Sir John was not extensively wealthy but by the construction of his castle, he was able to flaunt his growing power within the locality.
The castle was considerably modernised sometime during the late 16th century by a rich man from London, Richard Prater and it is thought that it remained in the possession of the Prater family until the Civil War. During the Civil War, the castle was held for the King but was besieged by Parliamentarian cannon in 1645. The gun damaged portion of the wall which was broken by Cromwell’s men finally collapsed into the moat on 25th December 1910.
The castle had a tower which stood inside a larger courtyard which was enclosed on three sides by a wall and on a fourth by a brook. Several service buildings most probably existed within the courtyard. A stream-fed moat encircled the castle. A line of battlements ran around the top of the walls and upon each corner a turret stood which was capped by a conical roof.
Inside the tower, a kitchen was situated upon the ground floor; there was a hall on the third floor and withdrawing chambers upon the top floor. A chapel was situated into the far right-hand corner tower.
In 1926, the site was taken into state guardianship and the moat was excavated, revealing the medieval drawbridge pit at the far end of the bridge. The area was also cleared of rubble and plants.
The remains of Nunney Castle are still beautiful which is no wonder as it is thought that the design of the castle may have been based upon the Bastille in Paris. Sir John de la Mere built the castle after returning from France and the French influence upon the architecture is certainly still evident.
Having arrived at the castle we couldn’t wait to get started with the investigation and we were excited about communicating with any of the castle’s formal inhabitants, if they still lingered.
On Friday 29th April 2011, a small group of the Twilight Shadows Paranormal team conducted a paranormal investigation at Nunney Castle in Somerset.
The castle looked majestic as we approached and I was in awe of it as we crossed the bridge over the moat.
We assembled inside the castle and from the very beginning; I was convinced that there was an extra person in our small group. I kept counting as I was felt that there were seven of us, instead of six.
Dave felt that he had someone attached to him from the time we left Stoney Littleton earlier that evening. He said that when he had spent time alone inside the chambered long barrow, he felt another presence and he could feel the presence still with him inside the castle and it felt as if it was holding onto his shoulders and pushing down onto his back.
Jacky said that she felt as if someone was peering down upon us from one of the upstairs windows. Pete confirmed this by saying “We are being watched.” I still felt as if there was an extra person amongst us and I kept doing a head count. Jacky was experiencing the feeling she gets when spirit are close which is a strange feeling in her back. The palms of my hands were tingling which is what I experience when I feel that spirits are within my aura.
We all heard a single bell tolling and this sound added to the sinister atmosphere. The bell was the church bell from the historic church of All Saints. This church is a Grade I, 12th century building. The church contains a tomb which is supposed to contain the body of Sir John de la Mere who died in 1383. An effigy of a knight upon the sill of a window inside the church is said to be Sir John. The effigy has the De la Mere lions emblazoned on his surcoat.
We stood together quietly and after a while Jacky said “There’s someone here.” I could not shake the feeling that there was an extra person with us. I kept counting seven heads and there were only six of us. I told the rest of the group and Jacky said “Yes.” Pete then said “Yes, it’s a man and he is dressed in black like a baron.”
After a while Jacky ‘called out.’ We heard a strange noise and froze for a minute but we quickly discovered that the noise was coming from some pigeons nesting in that part of the castle.
We stood silently for a while and I thought that the feeling of being watched from above was intense. Just as I was thinking this, Dave expressed the same thing and everyone agreed. Jacky had felt spooked by the main doorway area since we had arrived.
We stood quietly. Suddenly, Jacky said “Did you hear that?” Nobody else had heard anything. Jacky said that she had heard a hushed whisper. Jacky was sure she had heard a whisper and she asked Dave if it had been him. He said that he had not made a sound and I could confirm this as I had been looking at him at the time.
All was quiet for a short while and then Pete said that he heard footsteps close by us. We were standing inside the centre of the castle and so we could be sure that the footsteps were not animal sounds as we could clearly see the whole area which surrounded us. Jacky said “It’s quite eerie.” Pete said that he was sure that there was more below, like a cellar. We could not see any evidence of a cellar but it was obvious that the floor upon which we were standing was not original.
Jacky asked Dave if he was OK as he was looking disorientated and he said that he felt as if he was spinning. Pete was standing next to Dave and he said that he was also feeling physically strange while standing in that spot.
Loretta said that she heard a shifting type noise. I heard it as well. The noise sounded like feet shuffling on the ground, moving a stone. Jacky was staring at the main door and she said again “Did I tell you that I don’t like that door?” We all laughed. As we were laughing, I heard the sound of a male voice. We walked closer to where this sound originated and we heard a footstep and a stone kicking across the floor again.
Jacky ‘asked out’ again and there was a sound from the far turret. Jacky and I asked for the spirits to step forward, throw a stone or make any noise. To our surprise a stone came flying towards us and landed near our feet. This was followed by a smaller scattering of stones aimed towards us but not at us. We all heard footsteps and then we noticed that the atmosphere seemed darker suddenly. Some more stones were thrown. We asked for more stones and we all heard the stones hit the floor near us again.
Jacky asked “Can you show yourself or speak to us?” Another stone dropped right by us. Jacky said that she thought she could see someone standing up on the turret near to us. I could see what she meant. Pete shone a torch at the turret but there was no figure there.
Dave heard a mumbling sound and he turned around and for an instant, he thought he saw someone standing there. We all started chatting and another small scattering of stones were thrown. We asked for more and Pete said that he heard a spirit laugh. I looked up and saw what I thought was a stone materialising in the air. (I have experienced this once before at Woodchester Manor in Gloucestershire).
Pete said that the Lord’s wouldn’t have been down on this level so the spirits who were watching us from above were probably gentry. We started talking about the history of the castle and I saw a glittering light in my peripheral vision. I expected this to disappear as I turned my head to look directly at it but it didn’t. This little light was flickering in one of the doorways and I was astonished that I was watching this small light display with my own eyes and not through night vision camera. The light eventually disappeared.
Dave said that he could hear muffled voices. Stones were thrown again in our direction. Pete said “We know that you are watching us, do something else.” We walked towards the fireplace. Dave and Pete said that it was strangely warmer there. The rest of us went closer to see if we could feel this and we could. It was much warmer. It felt like the fire had been lit and that the stonework was still warm from the remnants of a fire.
We noticed that we were all staring upwards towards the upstairs windows; we were drawn to looking up there continually. We were all expecting to see a figure.
Everyone except Loretta and I decided to go for a walk around the outside of the castle. Loretta and I sat on the floor inside the castle on our own. We sat there deciding whether this had been a good idea and there were footsteps directly behind Loretta. We ‘called out.’ We heard movement nearby. We asked for something to be thrown towards us and we asked if it could be an old coin or an object from the past. Loretta said “What’s that, there are noises over there which sounds like something is falling.”
We sat in silence for a while and suddenly Loretta grabbed me making me jump out of my skin. When she calmed down, she told me that she had heard a shifting noise, like a footstep very close behind her.
Jacky joined us. I heard a whistle and Jacky and Loretta heard it too. It sounded very close to us. We ‘called out’ again. Dave, Pete and Nettie rejoined us and we ‘called out.’ We heard footsteps nearby. Dave said that he felt ‘heavy’ and Jacky said that it was getting even darker.
After this, the spooky atmosphere seemed to lift and all was quiet. We eventually decided to end the investigation and we left this beautiful castle. Thank you Jacky for arranging this amazing investigation.
Written by: Maria Williams
Our location was the beautiful but well hidden secret of Nunney Catch. Within this very quiet and picturesque village lies the spectacular vision of Nunney Castle. The castle was built in 1370's by Sir John de la Mere when he gained royal favour during the reign of Edward III. After returning from France during the Hundred Years War he built his castle in the French style of architecture. There are those who believe that the castle may have been based on the Bastille in Paris. The beautiful ashlars masonry with windows that have cusped tops and mullions of early Perpendicular style all add to the picturesque beauty of this small castle.
In the late 16th century the castle was modernised, unfortunately the interior was ruined during the Civil Wars (1642-51). The castle was besieged by Cromwell's men who used cannons to blast a huge hole in the north wall. The attack by the Parliamentarian forces virtually destroyed the interior of the small castle; however, the damaged north wall remained standing until Christmas Day 1910 when it collapsed into the moat. The wide, deep moat, which was cleared of debris, together with the walls and towers are still intact and lend a measure of charm to the houses of the village which surround the castle.
I kept quiet as Pete, Nettie, Maria and Loretta had no idea of what lay ahead. We parked up by the very beautiful 12th century All Saints Church (also of historical interest) and after a pleasant but brief exchange with a local gentleman (with the cutest fluffiest dog I have ever seen) who was concerned we were lost, we made our way through the village towards the castle.
Everyone’s reaction when they saw the impressive building loom out of the darkness was the same as ours when Dave and I went to visit this lovely place during the day. It literally stops you in your tracks. We entered the grounds through the gate and walked around the still very full moat around to the damaged wall where the entrance is to the castle. The castle is basically a shell with most of the external wall still standing. There are still the remains of the 4 turrets which form large hollow rooms. There is no ceiling remaining. Along the south external wall you can see a doorway from the west tower leading to a corridor that ran along the very top floor to the east tower which I imagine is still intact.
After we got our bearings I noticed that no-one had looked at the west turret. I didn't like the feeling I was getting from there and said to everyone that I noticed it was being avoided.
Pete wandered off to take a few pictures and after a few minutes he said that he felt that we were being watched by a male spirit, possibly a figure of authority. I started to ask out to see if we could get any activity going and soon we started to hear little stones being thrown. The atmosphere started to change and I felt that the castle shadows had started to look much darker than when we first arrived. We all heard a very strange rustling noise coming from the West tower which made us all jump. This was quickly followed by a pigeon cooing which made us all laugh.
We turned our attention back to the castle and we all agreed that no matter how hard you tried, your eyes were always drawn up to the top floors. It was here that Maria, Loretta and myself heard rustling from the East tower that didn't sound like the rustling made by the pigeon. We heard another stone being thrown and then I heard murmuring which I first thought was Dave but turned out was not. Pete, Nettie, Dave and I decided to walk around the outer perimeter of the castle whilst Maria and Loretta stayed inside. We didn't get any more activity after this time and as it was getting late we decided to move on to our next location.
Written by: Jacky Wicheard