Sham Castle

Coordinates: 51°22′57″N 2°20′15″W / 51.38250°N 2.33750°W / 51.38250; -2.33750
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Sham Castle
Ralph Allens Castle - - 1762356.jpg
LocationClaverton Down, Somerset, England
Coordinates51°22′57″N 2°20′15″W / 51.38250°N 2.33750°W / 51.38250; -2.33750
ArchitectSanderson Miller
Listed Building – Grade II*
Designated1 February 1956[1]
Reference no.32038
Sham Castle is located in Somerset
Sham Castle
Location of Sham Castle in Somerset

Sham Castle is a folly on Claverton Down overlooking the city of Bath, Somerset, England. It is a Grade II* listed building.[1][2] It is a screen wall with a central pointed arch flanked by two 3-storey circular turrets, which extend sideways to a 2-storey square tower at each end of the wall.[1]

It was probably designed around 1755 by Sanderson Miller and built in 1762 by Richard James, master mason for Ralph Allen, "to improve the prospect" from Allen's town house in Bath.[3]

Sham Castle is now illuminated at night.[4]

Generic term[edit]

Other 18th-century so-called "sham castles" exist at Hagley Hall, Clent Grove, Castle Hill, Filleigh and two at Croome Court (Dunstall and Pirton castles).

Rear view of Sham Castle, showing that the castle was intended to be viewed only from the front.

Ralph Allen's nearby Prior Park Landscape Garden is home to the Sham Bridge.[5] This structure is likewise a screen at the end of the Serpentine Lake which appears to be a bridge. Much like the Sham Castle, it dates from the mid-18th century.

Another nearby folly castle is that of Midford Castle. Sham Castle is one of three follies overlooking Bath, the others being Beckford's Tower and Browne's Folly.

In Piltown, County Kilkenny, Ireland is a partially-built monument known as 'Sham Castle'. It was intended to commemorate someone believed to have died but who later turned up during construction.


  1. ^ a b c "Sham Castle". Retrieved 15 March 2008.
  2. ^ Historic England. "Sham Castle (Grade II*) (1312449)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 6 July 2015.
  3. ^ Dunning, Robert (1995). Somerset Castles. Tiverton: Somerset Books. p. 77. ISBN 0-86183-278-7.
  4. ^ Scott, Shane (1995). The hidden places of Somerset. Aldermaston: Travel Publishing Ltd. pp. 16–17. ISBN 1-902007-01-8.
  5. ^ "Prior Park". Parks and Gardens Data Services Ltd. 27 July 2007. Retrieved 6 July 2015.