King of the hill

Walton Castle was bought 25 years ago for a pound. Now, after being rebuilt stone by stone, the amazing home has a £3 million price tag

If a child were to build a sandcastle at the seaside, it would look just like Walton Castle. Its squat, round turrets in a castellated wall with a keep in the centre are picture-book perfect. And, while the real castle is under no threat from an incoming tide, it does have spectacular views over the Bristol Channel.

If a child were to build a sandcastle at the seaside, it would look just like Walton Castle. Its squat, round turrets in a castellated wall with a keep in the centre are picture-book perfect. And, while the real castle is under no threat from an incoming tide, it does have spectacular views over the Bristol Channel.

It's not the only view. From its hilltop position in the Somerset countryside you can see over six counties. "It's extraordinary," says Margarita Hamilton, who fell under the castle's spell 20 years ago and bought it as a weekend place. "Light falls everywhere you look and for a castle of this period that is really unusual. Every room has the most fantastic view."

Now that Walton Castle is completely restored - barring a few final touches - the immaculate stonework and manicured lawned gardens give little clue to how close it had come to collapse. "It was virtually a ruin until five years before we bought it," says Hamilton. "It had been sold to the previous owners for one pound, so that gives you an idea of the state it was in. Some essential repairs had been done but in effect we started from scratch."

The site of Walton Castle, to the west of Bristol and above the seaside town of Clevedon, can be traced back to its use as a hill fort in the Iron Age. It is also referred to in the Domesday Book. But it was during the early 17th century that the present building took shape, only to fall victim to the vicissitudes of the Civil War. By 1791 the castle was derelict, the roof and floors had fallen in and part of the building was used as a dairy by a farmer. Nevertheless the structure remained and Pevsner described it in 1957 as "remarkable as a piece of ornamental planning".

That it has taken almost 200 years for its decline to be reversed was an indication of the scale of the task. "It was a labour of love," recalls Hamilton. "The greatest difficulty was hunting down the stone. Every bit had to come from the right quarry and then if that closed we would have to start all over again. The cobbles are mostly from a village in the north of England and took a year to lay. It was a mammoth undertaking." And one that she now feels has come to an end. She is selling in order to move to the south of France and the castle is for sale at a guide price of £3million.

The main octagonal folly sits in the middle of a large sheltered courtyard with a cobbled area at the entrance continuing in the form of a pathway around the entire courtyard below the high, octagonal, castellated stone walls with turrets. The castle is surrounded by gardens bordered by Clevedon golf club. "My ex-husband was very keen on walls and gardens, whereas I wanted to make it a comfortable home. Outside it's a lovely old castle; inside it has the feel of a modern Italian house."

When Hamilton moved into it permanently a few years ago, she made further changes. She kept her main home in the keep while putting each of the turrets to a specific purpose. There is a utility turret, a games turret, a dining turret, turrets with en-suite bedrooms and one with a large garage-cum-workshop.There is even one with the potential for use as a recording studio or conference centre.

"You can have 16 people staying here and not really notice them. They can come and go within the walls rather as they might have done in a medieval village. I can play the piano in peace while children can go to the games area to play pool and bang the drums to their hearts' content. The turrets have an intimate feel and they also have the advantage of being economical to run because they are independent of each other."

The interior of the central keep is arranged over four floors in a contemporary style. A master suite on the top floor has breathtaking views in all directions, an opulent bathroom and doors opening on to a roof terrace.

Below is a similar octaganol-shaped reception room with a huge dining kitchen on the first floor - the heart of the property, according to Margarita Hamilton. "Everything is low-level and it doesn't have a kitcheny feel. It is a wonderful room with a large granite table and huge windows looking out on the garden."

A most un-castle-like luxury is the underground swimming pool complex with L-shaped pool set among pillars and terracotta and marble slabs. At the far end it opens out on to a sheltered sun terrace beyond the walls of the castle.

This is a home in the country that makes a statement. Private inside the walls, but a landmark nonetheless. Hamilton used to run annual charity balls there when the castle was lit by searchlights visible from the motorway.

Despite being in countryside, Walton Castle is only two miles from the M5 and 12 miles from Bristol. John Denney from Hamptons International, the selling agents, says it is an increasingly sought-after location. "I can see it appealing to someone in the entertainment business. It is arguably eccentric but the kind of place the right person would use for their own enjoyment."

Hamptons International: 0117 923 9230

Discover more property articles at Homes and Property
PROMOTED VIDEO
Property search
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SEN Teacher, Permanent Role in Ashford

Competitive Salary: Randstad Education Group: Randstad urgently seeks a qualif...

SAP BI CONSULTANT

£55000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: SAP BI CONSULTA...

Infrastructure Manager - Southampton - Up to £45K

£35000 - £45000 per annum + 36 days holiday and more: Deerfoot IT Resources Li...

Drama Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Liverpool: We are looking for someone who can t...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice