Restormel Castle – 13th Century Circular Castle

Introduction

Restormel Castle sits high above the valley of the River Fowey, protecting what was once an important river crossing. The picturesque ruins are all that’s left of a luxurious castle. The castle once belonged to Edward of Woodstock (the Black Prince), the eldest son of Edward III.

The Prince inherited the title, Duke of Cornwall, in 1337 along with a large estate. Part of the estate was the castle and manor of Restormel and the nearby town of Lostwithiel. The Prince visited the castle twice, in 1354 and over Christmas in 1362.

Spectacular countryside surrounds the castle. From the top of its walls, there are fantastic views of the River Fowey valley. The views in springtime are especially good when the banks around the castle are full of bluebells and daffodils. Also, the surrounding woodland is full of flowering Rhododendron.

A deep and wide moat protects the castle. The circular wall forms a large Shell Keep, which houses domestic buildings and a large, rectangular chapel which protrudes outside. It is the best remaining example of a circular castle anywhere in the UK. 

I enjoy visiting historic places and Restormel didn’t disappoint. It is well worth visiting. The site is very well preserved and sits in a stunning location.

Directions to Restormel Castle

Restormel Castle is located just off the A390 about a mile and a half north of Lostwithiel. The site has a car park with spaces for 25 cars. This is about 70 metres from the site entrance. There is also free car parking in Lostwithiel, although you’d then have a walk of just over a mile to visit the site. Satnav postcode is PL22 0EE.

If you park in Lostwithiel, use the Lostwithiel Community Centre. From the car park entrance, cross the A390 onto Restormel Road and follow this as far as Restormel Farm. Turn left up the hill to Restormel Castle.

The castle is open from April to October at the following times:
July and August 10:00-6:00pm
April to June and September 10:00-5:00pm
October 10:00-4:00pm.

At the time of writing, you need to prebook your visit. If you are an English Heritage member, entry is free although you still need to prebook. Dogs on leads are welcome at Restormel Castle.

There are toilets on site but no other facilities.

About Restormel Castle

The remains of the keep have left some clues to the castle’s past grandeur. The large fireplaces, high windows and the Great Hall suggest this was once a place with luxurious surroundings.

Restormel is one of the four Norman castles that survive in Cornwall (the other three are Tintagel, Launceston and Trematon). In its day the castle would have been an impressive sight.

Today you enter the Keep through the strong gateway, just above the moat. The moat dried up a long time ago.

As well as exploring the interior, climb the stone staircase from the courtyard. Once on top, you can walk around the wall inside the keep. From here it’s easy to imagine how people once lived inside the castle.

As well as the views into the inside of the castle, look outwards and there are stunning views of the surrounding countryside. The grounds of the castle are a haven for wildflowers, wildlife and birds. If you are lucky you might see a rare Black Pheasant that inhabits the grounds and nearby woodlands.

Restormel Castle – A Brief History

The Castle’s early history is a bit of a mystery. The doomsday book doesn’t mention it.

11th Century – Castle built of wood shortly after the Norman Conquest.

1100 – A square gateway was added.

13th Century – Stone building replaces the timber keep. The Internal buildings were rebuilt in stone. Chapel constructed. The castle’s importance increased when the administrative centre for the area moved from Launceston to Lostwithiel.

1299 – After Edmund II, the Earl of Cornwall died in 1299, the Earldom reverted to the crown. Restormel then lost its importance and was left to decay.

1337 – Ownership of the castle passed to the first Duke of Cornwall – Edward, The Black Prince, son of Edward III. At this time the castle had a large deer park which was one of its main attractions.

1376 – Edward died and the castle fell into disrepair.

17th Century – Restormel was briefly reoccupied and fought over during the English Civil War. It was then abandoned once again.

18th Century – The castle was an ivy clad ruin.

1925 onwards – Restormel has been owned by the Duchy of Cornwall and cared for by English Heritage.

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