A spectacular nine bedroom, Victorian home in Wiltshire that was built to replace Medieval Devizes Castle has gone on sale for a cool £2.5 million.
The site has a long history. The original motte-and-bailey Devizes Castle was built in 1080 and rebuilt by 1120, after being burned down. The building was used for twenty years as a political prison to hold Robert Curthose, eldest son of William the Conqueror. It was gifted by Henry VIII to Catherine of Aragon during the early stages of his reign, but reclaimed after their divorce. The Tudors described Devizes Castle as ‘the most gorgeous in Christendom’.
Devizes Castle was handed down through the Royal family until the 17th century and was frequented by many monarchs and dignitaries of the era. The building was destroyed during the Civil War in 1648.
Nearly 200 years later, in 1840, a new Devizes Castle was built as a home on the footprint of the original castle, and its elevated position offers extensive views over Devizes itself and the surrounding open English countryside. The property was designed by the 19th century architect, Henry Goodridge, who also designed churches and chapels in the south west of England, one of the most famous buildings being Downside Abbey in Somerset.
Goodridge took care to make sure the heritage of the property stayed in keeping by using historic archways and battlements. The new Grade I listed building retained original stone mullioned windows, turrets and grand fireplaces, and was built over five storeys with grandly proportioned rooms, beautiful oak floors and picturesque gardens.
During the Second World War, Devizes Castle was used as a Prisoner of War camp for Italian captives.
The current building has all mod cons with a beautiful kitchen, albeit in a more traditional setting so they do not look too out of keeping. The building has a large entrance hall, inner hallway, kitchen/breakfast room, dining room, drawing room, family room, library, study, long gallery, drawing room, nine bedrooms (two of which are in the tower) and five bathrooms; not to mention a wine cellar, fernery and courtyard!
There are large, welcoming fireplaces in the most focal parts of the castle, and the dining room offers space for entertaining with a huge table and chandelier taking centre stage. Suits of armour are dotted around the building and there are decorative wall hangings, similar to those that would originally have been hung in many of the rooms.
The beautiful view from the top turret of the castle is enough to encourage any would-be buyer to part with their millions as it offers a panoramic glimpse of Devizes amongst green trees in a tranquil setting. It also offers seclusion by its location behind mature trees at the front of the building and ramparts at the rear.
Not much of the original castle remains but the outline of the moat and foundations of a great hall are still visible. The northern tower has incorporated the remains of a 17th century windmill and further alterations to the building have remained true to character.
The castle was built originally as a single private home but the building has since been split for two families which are in separate private ownership. In 2010, the larger part of the castle was sold for £2 million and then rented out as a rather grand holiday home. It is this that is now for sale, with the smaller South Tower remaining in separate ownership.
The site and its buildings have seen a lot of comings and goings, changes, wars and monarchs in its day. George Nares from Savills which is marketing the property said: “Naturally it will appeal to a history lover, but I think it will also have to be someone quite fun. You have the benefit of the history and nature of it being a castle but at the same time it also has wonderfully proportioned rooms, which lends itself extremely well to modern family living, which is rare in a castle. It’s also great for entertaining, with high ceilings and wonderful cornicing and carvings.”
Like its castle, the town of Devizes has a rich history, and was known for manufacturing and textiles from the 16th century onwards. Devizes had the largest corn market in the west country by the beginning of the 18th century and other established trades include brewing, snuff making and tobacco curing. These days Devizes is a thriving town and is a popular place in which to settle.
If you’re buying older property, even if you aren’t planning on moving into a castle, an Independent Chartered Surveyor will overlook the condition and structural elements of your new property in a Building Survey to help you safeguard your investment.