A roughly pentagonal moated castle built, without licence in 1229, with round towers and a twin-tower gatehouse which may well be later. From about 1330 the castle was much altered by the addition of a large square corner tower, a domestic block associated with it and a smaller square tower, the latter of 15th century date. The domestic range to the south was added later, probably in the early 17th century, and remodelled circa 1691. The bridge and possibly the gazebo were built in the 18th century. There are two barns on the site. (Pastscape)
Maurice, the son of Robert Fitzharding “Berkeley”, had a son Maurice who took part against King John, and afterwards incurred the displeasure of Henry III., for “fortifying his castle of Beverston without a licence”, this being the first notice we have of the fortress. In 1291 it passed by a daughter of Philip de Gourney to John ap Adam, but was sold by his son, with the manor, to Thomas, third Lord Berkeley. According to Leland, this lord, Thomas, was taken prisoner in the French wars, but afterwards recovered the losses he suffered in ransom by the battle of Poictiers (1354), obtaining much spoil by the ransom of French prisoners; he then thoroughly rebuilt this castle of Beverston, “a pile at that tyme very preaty”, and said to have been his favourite residence.
Beverston continued in the possession of the Berkeleys until 1597, when the Sir John, the last of his family, having gone through his property, sold it to Sir John Poyntz, from whom it came by purchase shortly after to Sir Michael Hicks, whose family kept it till 1842, when it was sold to Robert Holford, of Weston Birt, whose son, Captain George L. Holford, Equerry to H.R.H. the Prince of Wales, is the present (1896) owner.
Large alterations were made, and additions, in Elizabethan times, and after part had been injured by fire, a farmhouse was formed in the banqueting hall, and the buildings were let; this house also was burned during the war of the seventeenth century, and a new one was built, to be burnt in its turn, in 1691; the house which now stands there being erected subsequently to this date.
During the Parliamentary war, Beverston held one of the King’s garrisons, and a bold attempt on it was made by General Massy, who endeavoured to blow in the great door of the gatehouse, but the petard failing, the assailants were driven off. In 1644 Massy again came to the castle with a force of horse and foot, in the absence of its captain, Colonel Oglethorpe, and the place was surrendered to the Parliament.
The Rev. Dr. Blunt, rector of Beverston in 1877, thus describes the ruin: “The western face of the castle still remains; a large square tower, 34 feet by 30 feet, at the S. end; a smaller one, 24 feet square, set:angularly at the N. end, and a curtain between; the whole side 123 feet long. The great tower, 60 feet high, consists of three storeys; the lower fonned an entry and guard-room; the ascent by a newel staircase in an octagonal turret leads to a large room, 33 feet by 25, which appears to have been made into a chapel early in the fifteenth century”. There is an interesting account of the place in Parker’s “Domestic Architecture”, with drawings and plans of the tower and chapel, and of other parts, and Buck gives an engraving showing the ruin as it was in 1732.
It is a picturesque, ivy-draped relic of a fine fourteenth century house, quadrangular in plan, and having once had towers at the:angles; the whole is surrounded by a moat whose waters wash the foot of the walls, though part of the ditch has been filled in. The curtain, N. of the tower, contains a fine gallery, and below the S. end is the “dismal dungeon” for prisoners, the entrance to which is covered by a trap-door. In 1873 the base of a round tower was discovered in the rectory garden, opposite to the W. face of the great tower, and 37 feet from it, with some stones which seemed to belong to a gateway here. This must have formed part of an outer ward, and there are traces beyond the present tennis-lawn of the outer moat of the castle, which shows the fortress to have been on a larger scale than has previously been supposed. A beautiful Decorated chapel remains, with an oratory on the upper floor; the lofty groined roof and carvings of the former being particularly good. The ruins of the gatehouse show the portcullis groove in the inner archway, protected by two round towers. (Castles Of England, Sir James D. Mackenzie, 1896)