Okehampton Castle may be a picturesque ruin today, but it was once the largest castle in Devon. Built between 1068 and 1086, the castle was owned by the de Courtenays who later went on to become the Earls of Devon. The castle stayed in the same family for generations, before their involvement in the War of the Roses led to the head of the family’s unfortunate end at the hands of Henry VIII and the castle was abandoned to fall into disrepair. The castle also had a deer park, which was rented out by the crown following the demise of Courtenay.
Now owned by English Heritage, the ruined castle has long been a favourite with painters, and it’s inspired one of Devon’s most enduring folk tales. Local lore has it that the castle is haunted by Lady Howard who was said to have murdered all four of her husbands. It’s said that she can be seen each night at midnight, travelling from Okehampton to Tavistock in a carriage made of bones with a headless driver. She must pluck one blade of grass from the castle’s hillside every night, and she will only be released from her penance when every blade has been picked.
Castle Lodge, Okehampton, Devon - EX20 1JA