070216.Tucking Mill, Never Say Never

February 16, 2007 at 12:22 AM | Posted in Architecture, Bath, Bridges, Castles, Mansion, Overcast, Pevsner, somerset, Towers, Tucking Mill | 20 Comments

Copy of 070215.33.Somset.Tucking Mills.Gothik Midford Castle.dJohn Carter.1775
So has this ever happened to you: you get tired of working in your room and you say I need a walk. –After strolling around in circles a few times you end up 3 miles south of Bath and have no actual idea where you are since you’re in a heavily wooded area and the sun has been blocked by the perpetual overcast weather?
070215.38.Somset.Tucking Mills
No? Yes? Well, it happened to me yesterday. I was on a muddy dirt road in the middle of nowhere wilderness when all of a sudden I see a hidden tunnel, possibly abandoned,  with some pavement beneath! I’m suddenly again interested in my surroundings and decide to explore…where does the tunnel lead? Where am I now and why is there wilderness above the tunnel? Or even, how do I get down there? As I’m trying to get on that new path, I find this crazy “Gothik” castle, decked out like a supervillain headquarters with all these bizarre deck of cards’ “club” patterns on its walls–(or quatrefoils, but the plan was definately a club-shape). Either in Midford, itself, or nearby Tucking Mill, the fortress compound is complete with a deceptively-rickety old antenna capable of receiving signals from a satellite relay station. And then, as I’m staring at it, a plane seemingly takes off from nearby, but there’s no airport anywhere in this region! This had to be the lair of some James Bond nemesis—“Dr. Club,” or…(pick a better name.)
070215.28.Somset.Tucking Mills.Gothik Midford Castle.dJohn Carter.1775Copy of 070215.35.Somset.Tucking Mills.Gothik Midford Castle.dJohn Carter.1775
070215.39.Somset.Tucking Mills
More out of boredom than anything else, I go into secret agent mode, leave the road and jump from tree to tree for cover. I wind up coming to a “private property” sign that doesn’t clearly distinguish the private from the public footpath, so I continue. The place, in any event, looks abandoned. An old, junked railroad bridge, which may or may not according to the county belong to Wessex Water (according to an Internet search, its ownership isn’t so much in dispute as it is denied by all parties concerned), with a reservoir lake at the base. On the other thickly-wooded side, there is a series of large tanks and generator-looking devices…and uniformed workers marching around: yes, henchmen! I couldn’t photograph everything that was going on (because my camera makes an annoying chirping sound every time it’s turned on or takes a picture—still haven’t figured out how to turn that off) but as I went down the wooded hill toward the generators, a siren went off, and I had to make a fast getaway.
070215.42.Somset.Tucking Mill.Viaduct.Ownershipindoubt.Fisheries
070215.40.Somset.Tucking Mill.Viaduct.Ownershipindoubt

So here’s what it turned out to be…(but don’t be fooled, this Forysth could be in their employ…)
Midford Castle, Midford Rd. Beautifully placed in wooded grounds with a s view down to Cane Brook and Midford Brook, this is the most eccentric of the substantial villas that surround Bath. It was build for Henry Disney Roebuck, c. 1775, after a design by John Carter for “a Gothic Mansion,” published in Builder’s Magazine in 1774. It is tower-like, three-storeyed, on an ingenious trefoil plan with semicircular corners, raised on a large plinth containing the service accommodation. Each floor has a lozenge-shaped hall and three rooms giving off it with three-windowed ends. (A story, coined in 1899, said that the plan commemorates some prodigious gambling success of Henry Roebuck and represent the ace of clubs.) The two principal floors have pointed windows with ogee0hoods, the upper windows, straight hoods. To give the appearance of towers, the battlemented parapet projects upwards at in blind arches like eyebrows. The interior has charming light plasterwork, chiefly long branches with sparse leave, attributed to Thomas Stocking. The house is an early example of the unusual-shaped villas, mainly triangular and sometimes castlelated, that architects experimented with in the 1780s-90s. These include Carr’s Grimston Garth, Yorkshire (1781-6), Adam’s Walkinshaw House, Renfrewshire (1791), and Nash’s Castle House, Aberystwyth for Uvedale Price (c.1795).
“Castellated also, the early C19 gatehouse (four-centred head of the archway, quatrefoils in the spandrels) and the picturesque group of stables and tower of the former chapel. This has a tower with pinnacles (and a cupola as well). In the NE part of the grounds are the ruins of a summerhouse known as the priory. A two-storeyed circular tower with a higher circular stair-turret, embattled, with quatrefoil windows. Originally, this had a nave with an apse, with ogee-headed niches. This was presumably built at the same time as the castle as it is mentioned in Collinson’s History of Somerset, 1791. On the brow of a steep descent is a rustic hermitage, now restored. Collinson also mentions this.” —Michael Forsyth, Bath (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003), 288-289. Midford Castle was also apparently the estate of Charles Conolly….


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  1. I always end up 3 miles south of Bath when I get bored.

    And I can just see you muttering the “Mission: Impossible” theme under your breath as you jump from tree to tree.

    Have yourself a nice cup of hot cocoa. Destress your brain a little more. Or just go play secret agent in the woods again.

  2. Lord, I wish this was possible in New York City! Amazing… Thanks so much for the lovely distraction, I’ll be daydreaming about this castle while I’m bored at work today!

  3. Like Ann, I too will be dreaming of this while working. Nothing at all like this to be found here in Portland, Oregon (USA). PS, I enjoy your photoblog very much. My wife and I were in Bath last spring and enjoyed it very much.

  4. ce chateau est tres beau, il ressemble beaucoup au manoir que l’on trouve dans le perigord profond.

    this castle is very beautiful, it resembles much the manor which one finds in the deep perigord.

  5. cheers for all the comments.
    jc, come on? secret agent? no way, I’m more likely to hum Mission Impossible.

    Ann, thanks for the visit and happy 365th. If you take the Taconic upstate into Dutchess County, you’ll find Dick’s Castle. That’s got to be cool, I hear they were dividing it into luxury condos….

    Ryan, thanks for the visit. glad you enjoyed Bath. I enjoyed Portland, OR last spring so that’d be funny if we traveled at the same time. Yeah, I guess there are no castles in OR but you do have the world’s largest glockenspiel at Mt. Angel, right?

    Olivier, thanks for the comment, and I’m sure the French have finer manors than this….

  6. Ooh, good call! I’ve seen that from the train heading Upstate to visit my mom but had never done research into what it was. thanks for that! now I have another annoying tidbit of knowledge with which to bore my fellow Amtrak passengers into a stupor 😉

  7. love the second one down…i want to be there

  8. Hi,
    I just read your adventure thru the wood and the castle and just to let everybody know that the famous actor Nicolas Cage just purchase the Midford gothic castle in the city of Bath.

  9. I bet he was plotting to steal the Magna Carta or something.

  10. Hey,
    I just happened across your story after hearing about Nicolas Cage buying the castle. I live in upstate NY one county above Dutchess and never even heard of Dick’s Castle… suppose I’ll have to look it up now! Thanks for the info!

  11. Hey, I enjoyed reading your blog, I found it through a link about Cage’s castle. Your story was more interesting. I enjoy photography and couldn’t help but write you to tell you that I presume if you go to your Menu section on your camera, there will be a section for sounds, probably has a picture of tools or a little camera, you can change individual sounds or you should have a general mute button. Now you can go on with your secret missions! Take care.

  12. Thank you Liz, Aaron, Roger, and Michael for your kind comments.

  13. this castle is very wonderful

  14. beautiful castle, And its just been bought by “Nicolas Cage” who also owns a property in the city at “The Circus”.

    i live about a mile from this and walk over there nearly everyday…..

  15. Must have moved in, passed him today by Tucking Mill Viaduct. His wife and him asked for directions to Monkton Combe, getting to know the local area eh!

  16. I live in Midford just down the road from Cages castle so I recognise all your pics. I am keen to get a copy of the old pic of Tucking Mill viaduct with the rails still down.
    Can you help please?

  17. What a super picture of my castle I stroll round it everyday before I begin my work in the studio its nice to see a shot of it almost head on.

    How lucky you are to live so close to it.

  18. Found this site while researching nearby Combe Hay. My ancestors have been traced back to c1796, when my 4xgt grandparents married there. John was a carpenter as were most of his descendants. I would like to think they may have had some input into the woodwork in the Castle, wishful thinking? John definately worked on the Caisson Boat lift in Combe Hay in 1799 when King George IV visited. Perhaps he also visited the castle, anyone know?


  19. Wonderful writing!! Will visit again=D

  20. Hey there I am so happy I found your blog page, I really found you by mistake, while I was researching on Askjeeve for
    something else, Regardless I am here now and would just
    like to say thank you for a remarkable post and a all round enjoyable blog (I also love the theme/design), I don’t have time to read through it all at the moment but I have saved it and also added in your RSS feeds, so when I have time I will be back to read more, Please do keep up the great job.

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