This is the season inbetwixt: the time of year that commences at the fall of the first bronzed leaf. Where mist rolls in, day quickly turns to twilight, and a sense of magic lingers in the air — for there are festivities ahead. This month, we speak with property owners Tina and Craig about their straight-out-of-a-fairytale Gothic castle on the Somerset coast, where bewitchery hides in every corner.

With some of Thornemead Castle’s bones thought to be over 240 years old, this unique home sure has some stories to tell and some past lives lived — including a stint as a school during the late 18th century, followed by a period of Gothic transformation in 1853 under the guidance of the Crace brothers (from a family of decorators and furniture-makers operating out of a London base between 1768 and 1899). “The spectacular building, set within peaceful, secluded surroundings” was what convinced Tina and Craig to purchase the property in 1993, during “a time where we were looking for a change of direction." They worked in conjunction with English Heritage and the local Conservation Department to turn a neglected historical building into an unorthodox family home made to last the generations.

To the left is Thornemead Castle´s exterior, to the right is the drawing room with snooker tab

The epitome of a storybook castle, Thornemead is complete with turrets, crenellations, arched windows, carved stone, and even a tower, and sits within 10 acres of glorious grounds. Inside, the pair note “the entire ground floor of the house is considered to be extremely historically important, in-keeping with its Grade II status”; and, indeed, here you can almost smell the history. An octagonal hall with beautiful stencilled wall panels, a drawing room with walls adorned with wallpaper made by famed Gothic architect, artist and designer A.W.N Pugin, a leather-scented library with roaring open fire, and a coffee-coloured, oak-panelled dining room await. “The style of the renovations has always been dictated by the historic nature of the building,” they add, with furniture sourced from antique dealers or treasured collections passed through the family, and touches throughout that pay homage to its roots in the form of Victorian fireplaces and Georgian-style headboards. 

To the left is the grand dining room at Thornemead Castle, to the right is the library

Sadly, the family suffered a major fire in the summer of 2016, which meant that the castle underwent a period of major refurbishment: “It was essential for us to restore the important historic and architectural features,” they note “to enable Thornemead to retain its place as the most complete Pugin-inspired property in Britain.”

Those wanting to channel their inner king or queen for a week or weekend would be hard put to find a more suitable place than this; where days can be spent playing snooker in the drawing room, reading about the castle’s rich history in its own library, tucking into breakfasts of boiled eggs and buttered soldiers in the conservatory's morning sunshine, or adventuring through the acres of mature gardens. Ideally situated on the Somerset coast near Weston-super-Mare, attractions such as Cheddar Gorge, the famous Donkey Bluebell Fields and the Mendip Hills AONB are waiting to be explored.

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