Featured image of Watermouth Castle

The History Of Watermouth Castle

LocationWatermouth, Devon, England (Google Maps)
Open for VisitorsYes
Owned byDeborah Haines
Official WebsiteWatermouth Castle
Rooms AvailableYes (Stay)

Watermouth Castle is a family-friendly historic site known as one of North Devon’s premier tourist attractions with entertainment for the whole family. It is set in the quaint Victorian seaside resorts, glorious Blue Flag beaches, and the beauty and wildness of the Exmoor National Park.


Arthur Davie Basset built Watermouth Castle in 1825 as a country residence for his bride Harriet Basset. The Bassets were recorded in the Domesday Book, coming to Britain with William the Conqueror. After Arthur’s death by accident, his joint-heirs were his son, the Reverend Arthur Crawfurth Davie Bassett, and his daughter Harriet Mary Williams. They managed the castle and estate until Harriet’s brother died, and the property was inherited by her husband in 1880 when they married. They became the sole owners of the castle, and eventually, it passed to their son Walter and his sister Edith. However, times were changing, and the great wealth that Harriet’s father had inherited was beginning to disappear. Much of it was employed into completing the castle, a constant drain on their resources.

Walter also got involved in constructing gigantic Ferris wheels, which became a costly hobby. His involvement with the Ferris wheel entailed setting up a company that supplied the money to build and run them. The castle was used as a Convalescent Home for Army Officers wounded in the First World War in 1916. During the Second World War, it was used as Headquarters for P.L.U.T.O., Pipe-Line-Under-The- Ocean.

Watermouth Castle was vacated by the Basset family during the Great War when it became a military hospital. The Basset family’s last descendant moved from Watermouth Castle to Scotland around 1945. Subsequently, the castle has had several different owners after that. In 1977 the near-derelict castle was bought by Richard Haines and his family. They turned the castle into a tourist attraction promising entertainment for the whole family.


Watermouth Castle
Watermouth Castle by  Dave Skinner licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Watermouth Castle is a Grade 2 listed building designed by Architect George Wightwick. It was built in the Gothic style, appearing romantic, and the grouping of the neighbouring knolls and ridges are gorgeous. The evidence of a labyrinth of tunnels and fortification in the castle suggests a smuggler’s haven. The legendary Smuggler’s Tunnel is believed to have been blocked up in the latter half of the Nineteenth Century. The castle’s interiors include the family apartments, the Great Hall, kitchen, and dairy. The present evidence is that around 40 domestic staff were employed in the running of this Victorian Estate. The castle’s 50-acre estate features lovely landscaped gardens. There are ducks and waterfowl in the lake and beautiful views from the castle over Watermouth Bay and its harbour.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where is Watermouth castle?

Watermouth Castle is situated on the main A399 coast road midway between Ilfracombe and Combe Martin, North Devon, England. Barnstaple is the nearest railway station, and there is no direct bus. Therefore, you have to go to Ilfracombe Bus Station and change to Combe Martin, or you can take a taxi.

Who lived in Watermouth Castle?

The Basset family has lived in Watermouth Castle since it was built in the mid 19th century by Arthur Davie Basset until they moved to Scotland around 1945.

Have you visited this castle before? If yes, why not share some beautiful pictures with us!
You can email us your pictures of the castle at castrumtocastle@gmail.com. Please use the name of the castle in the subject line.
Also, don’t forget to mention your name and social media profile link if you want the credits!

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