Billed as a theme park, this does have many of the attributes of a museum. Watermouth Castle was built in 1825 by Arthur Davie Basset for his bride Harriet. It is worth noting that the Basset’s are recorded in the Domesday Book, having come to Britain with William the Conqueror. The existing evidence of a labyrinth of tunnels and fortification for the Harbour opposite suggests a smugglers haven. The legendary Smugglers’ Tunnel is believed to have been blocked up in the latter half of the Nineteenth Century. The family apartments, kitchen and dairy, show that around 40 domestics were employed in the running of this Victorian Estate. Walter Basset (grandson of Arthur Basset) was an engineer and built the first European Fairground Wheel designed by the American engineer Ferris. He then went on to construct the Giant Ferris Wheel in the late 1890’s which is still standing today in Prater Park, Vienna. In 1916 the Castle was used as a Convalescent Home for Army Officers wounded in the First World War, and during the Second World War it was H.Q. for P.LU.T.O., Pipe-Line-Under-The- Ocean.
Enter the Castle’s Great Hall with its magnificent suits of armour, classic handcarts and sporting trophies. Then step back in time to enjoy some simple pleasures of Victorian life such as antique pier machines, toys, games and displays - including a fabulous N Gauge Model Railway, mechanical music machines and strange and wonderful curios of every kind. Also on display for your entertainment is a working Decap La Palma organ, built around the 1950’s, with full size animated robots playing the instruments in the band. They have several rooms set up to demonstrate how life would have been in the Victorian times - with a kitchen scene full of fabulous relics from the past, and an old dairy full of interesting items. In addition there is a formal sitting room display depicting a master and servants going about their daily business. All displays include fully costumed model
There are three sets of ladies and gentlemen’s toilets situated around the Park. Disabled toilets and baby changing facilities can be found in the Castle courtyard and in the Gardens. The majority of the Castle and Gardens are accessible to wheel chairs users, (they have a route to follow), and all the pathways are tarmac, but, some are steep in places and it is recommended that you are accompanied by someone willing and able to help in these areas. Guide dogs only are permitted in the Castle of Gardens.
Location : Berrynarbor, Ilfracombe, Devon EX34
Transport: Barnstaple (National Rail) then bus to Ilfracombe then bus 301. Bus Routes : Filers Travel, no. 301 from either Ilfracombe or Combe Martin stops here.
Opening Times : Most Days (Check here) 10:30 - 16:30.
Tickets : Adults & Children 92cm+ £13.50; Seniors £10.00 (includes all attractions)
Tel: 01271 867474