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Restormel Castle

OS Grid ref:- SX 104614

Restormel Castle Restormel Castle dramatically bestrides a hill top overlooking the River Fowey around a mile to the north of Lostwithiel and 9 miles north east of St. Austell.

The castle overlooks what was once the major crossing point of the River Fowey and was founded by Robert, Count of Mortain, the half brother of William the Conqueror. The present castle occupies the site of the earlier wooden Norman fort. Little evidence remains of the earlier fort, but masonry of a very early date may be seen at the base of the Gate Tower.

The stone structure we see today dates from around 1200. The nearly circular, battlemented keep is surrounded by a deep, wide defensive moat. the barbican and towers were added in the following century. The Great Hall, the kitchens and other rooms are still clearly discernable.The castle was entered over a drawbridge, and there is some evidence to suggest that there was once a further drawbridge within the square Gate Tower.

A well chamber which is located in the courtyard once provided the castle with its water supply, but there was an additional source, supplied by a spring, situated on the higher ground outside the castle. The views of the surrounding landscape from the upper sections of the castle walls are superb.

Restormel CastleThe castle was taken by Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester in 1264 during the civil conflicts in the reign of Henry III, but was seized back in turn by the former High Sheriff of Cornwall, Sir Ralph Arundell, in 1265.

The internal buildings were replaced in stone by Edmund Plantagenet, Earl of Cornwall, grandson of Henry III, in the latter part of the thirteenth century. He constructed domestic buildings and barracks and provided a chapel alongside the castle to the east, in the course of adding the chapel a wide archway was cut through the the Keep which led to to a rectangular projection. built specifically for that purpose. Little of this remains today.

Restormel was once home to the famous Edward, the Black Prince, who, as eldest son of King Edward III, was also Prince of Wales and Duke of Cornwall. He covered himself in glory during the Hundred Years War with the French and became the hero of the battles of Crecy and Poiters. The Black Prince visited and occupied Restormel Castle in 1354 and in 1365. At this time, the deer park boasted 300 deer which made it the largest of its kind in Cornwall.

The castle saw action in in 1644, when Royalist forces commanded by Sir Richard Grenville drove out a Parliamentary garrison which had occupied Restormel during the Civil War. Grenville was a local member of the gentry who had been the member of Parliament for Fowey before the war.

Although it is not known if it was 'slighted' after the Civil War, by the eighteenth century the castle was covered in ivy and became a picturesque ruin hidden by woodland. In 1925 English Heritage took over the running of the site that the Restormel Castle was uncovered once more.

Historic Buildings in Cornwall