When you think of a castle, you probably think of a huge old fortified building perched atop a tall hill with a moat around it and a drawbridge leading up to its entrance. Sure, those sorts of buildings are dotted around Cornwall but we also have smaller ‘castles’, like the one in the sand dunes that overlooks Summerleaze Beach in the beating heart of Bude.
Known by many as Bude Castle, The Castle is neither large nor grand. But it is a Grade II listed Victorian period building – one of the oldest in the area – and it’s steeped in history. It’s not really a castle, only being called thus when it was built in 1830, but it is – as the name suggests – a heritage centre that was established in 2007 and just has to be visited if you’re interested in the history of the local area. It is divided into themed zones that cover local heritage and there’s also a special exhibition area dedicated to the inventor who built The Castle, Sir Goldsworthy Gurney. Many paintings that depict the important Battle of Stratton which was fought on land near the town during the English Civil War also pepper the walls.
Alongside the heritage centre, there are three art galleries here, with a regularly changing programme of works. Many showcase the talents of local artists and cover anything from paintings and ceramics to photos and animations. Also worth hitting up is The Castle’s café, Limelight, that offers great views out across the beach from its outdoor patio and serves up tasty items like jacket potatoes, cheese sandwiches and bacon rolls. A pre-booked afternoon tea for a group of people is also available. Finish off your tour of The Castle at its gift shop, which stocks all sorts of souvenirs from Bude and beyond.
Okay, The Castle in Bude is hardly a castle like Tintagel, Pendennis or even Restormel. But it is a highly recommended attraction that serves as an excellent place to learn about the area and its history, to check out some of the most talented artists in Cornwall, to sample a sumptuous afternoon tea and to cap off your trip to Bude in fine style. Without spending a penny. Unless you go for that afternoon tea, that is…