Castle HistoryBanwell Castle History

Banwell Castle has a long and varied history spanning over 250 years.


Property & land owned by Bishop of Bath & Wells
Sold to John & Joan Landown
Sold to Symon Sympson
Mansion house complete by Sympson's son Joseph Dyer & wife Amelia Louisa
1854 -1874
Residents: Henry & Elizabeth Ellen Pigou. Then Sir William & Lady Frances Baker
Sold to Wolsley Partridge & Elizabeth Ellen Emerton
Caretakers, The Brown family, looked after the Castle
Freehold sold to Kate Brehens
Brehens gave the estate to her husband Henry Oliver Hope
Sold to Richard & Constance Calvert
RAF took over the castle as Area Headquarters for the Barrage Balloon Section. The gatehouse being used by the ARP
Rhodyate Lodge was built by the Eccles family
Sold to Simon & Philipa Wills and family
Sold to Charles Skilton & Jean Desebrock
Present day owners William & Hugh Parsons

Stained Glass Window at Banwell Castle

Before 1753 the property and land was owned by the Bishop of Bath and Wells. In that year it was sold to John and Joan Landown.

Symon Sympson was owner in 1837. His son Joseph Dyer Sympson, a solicitor of 7 Golden Square, London, together with his wife Amelia Louisa, had the mansion house built. It was completed by 1847. They later had Banwell Abbey rebuilt to Hans Price design. The castle was built in the Gothic Revival style, common to the eccentricity of the wealthy landowners at the time, to a Augustus Pugin design.

From 1854 until 1874 the Castle was let to Henry and Elizabeth Ellen Pigou. It was then let to Sir William and Lady Frances Baker. In 1883 the estate was sold to Wolsley Partridge and Elizabeth Ellen Emerton. Wolsley being a retired barrister, and Elizabeth’s second husband. Elizabeth was daughter of James Yates (Iron Founder) of Oakwood Hall, Rotherham. When her father died, as the only surviving child, she was left very rich. She had 5 children. After she died, in 1897, the family moved to the Isle of White and the Castle was left empty. The Brown family being the caretakers.

In 1905 Kate Brehens of Ballisfield Park, Whitchurch, Shropshire purchased the freehold from Elizabeth’s son Earnest Bentley Shaw-Yates. She married Henry Oliver Hope in 1907. In 1911 she gave the estate to her husband.

One of the previous owners of Banwell Castle

In 1917 Richard and Constance Calvert from Churchill Court were the next owners. He was a solicitor whose family had been in the cotton trade in Bolton. Mr and Mrs Calvert had Bristol architect, Sir George Oatley do the work on the Castle in 1919. They had one adoptive daughter, Bunty.

During the Second World War the estate was taken over by the RAF as Area Headquarters for the Barrage Balloon Section. The Gatehouse being used by the local Air Raid Precautions (A.R.P.)

Mrs Calvert died in 1956 after which the Eccles family moved in to look after their uncle Richard. When he died they had Rhodyate Lodge built in the grounds. The estate was then sold to Simon and Phillipa Wills (of W.D. & H.O. Wills, Bristol), who with their children loved here until 1976 when they moved to Walton Manor in Gordano. The next owners being Charles Skilton, a book and postcard publisher, together with Jean Desebrock from South Africa. When Charles Skilton moved to Whittingehame House, near Edinburgh in 1988, William and Hugh Parsons purchased the main house having been on the estate since 1969 from a farming family in Cheddar.