Nunney Castle, located south of Bath in Nunney, Somerset, England, is a small French style castle surrounded by a deep moat that was built by John Delamare, a knight for King Edward of England in 1373. Nunney Castle is unique compared to other British castles with its strong French influence. The only other one like it can be found in Ireland.
Nunney Castle consists of a rectangular Tower house with large drum towers at each corner built with beautiful ashlar masonry. Its cuspid tops and mullions finish off this early Perpendicular style. The building impressed the locals as nothing more than a fortified manor house because it lacked any battlements.
William John Prather, Esq. (1492-1547) and his son and heir, George Prather, Esq. (1510-1564) purchased Nunney Castle and the entire estate of John Delamare in a tax trade deal in about 1560 from their cousin, Sir William Paulett, Lord St John, who inherited it through marriage. After they purchased the vast estate consisting of 4,000 acres of meadowland, 300 acres of timber, 40 farms with dwellings and surfs, 30 farms with no dwellings, Mills, Dove Cotts, several wool washing and processing manors and a Tenament in Oxford, John’s younger son Richard Prater, Esq. (1540-1580) moved into Nunney Castle where he died in 1580.
When Richard died he named his brother Anthony Prater, Gentleman, (1545-1593) as “Trustee” of the estate until Richards son and heir, George (1562-1621), was old enough to inherit the estate. Different Prater heirs lived in the castle until the English Civil War in 1645 when Col. Richard Prater (1590-1651) lost the castle in a battle that took place at Nunney. During the Civil War the castle was garrisoned for the King and had a large magazine of about 80 men to defend the castle. Fearing his castle would be destroyed, Col. Richard, a Royalist and an ordained Roman Catholic priest, surrendered and offered to switch sides. Fairfax, the commander of Cromwells forces, refused his offer and confiscated the castle and destroyed it, never to be lived in again. Richard and his family sought refuge in the All Saints’ Church in Nunney then eventually moved into the Court House next to the church where they remained until their deaths.
Richard died in 1651 and he lay next to his wife as Effigies in the All Saints’ Church in Nunney. The Praters who lived in and around Somerset and Wiltshire controlled the woolen industry by owning all of the major wool washing and processing centers and controlled major grazing for 1000’s of sheep. They were titled gentlemen, but not farmers.
Finally, it has been rumored that the soul of Col. Richard riding a big black stallion can be heard late into the evening trotting down the main street in Nunney. Louder and louder the horse gets closer with Col. Richard sitting upright and alert in full armor looking from side to side as if he is expecting someone or something to appear. It has been said that he always goes to the entrance of the castle but has never been seen coming out.