Farleigh Hungerford Castle, near Bath, is on a hillside above the Somerset bank of the River Frome, the other bank being in Wiltshire. Originally a manor house, it was sold to Thomas Hungerford in 1369, who proceeded to build a castle with tall corner towers. The castle remained in the possession of the Hungerford family for over 300 years. In 1377, Sir Thomas Hungerford became the first recorded Speaker of the House of Commons. There is documentary evidence that the castle was in existence in November 1383. It is now in ruins, but the south-east and south-west towers remain almost to their full height.
The Chapel is well preserved and the most impressive of the surviving buildings, containing an important collection of medieval, Tudor and 17th century monuments and wall paintings. It was built by Sir Thomas Hungerford as the new parish church for Farleigh Hungerford. His son, Walter Hungerford, enclosed the Chapel within the outer court of the castle in the 15th century and built a new parish church on the hill in the village. Beneath the chapel is a burial vault, holding a collection of lead coffins, containing the remains of four men, two women and two children. Four of the coffins have ‘death masks’, probably cast from the faces of the deceased.
In the 17th century, the castle developed into a luxurious mansion, before falling into ruins from around 1700. In 1915, the castle came under the control of the Ministry of Works, before English Heritage acquired it in 1984.
Where in England is Farleigh Hungerford, Somerset
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