Castle of Dreams – Week Nine

Good evening, and welcome back to the Castle of Dreams blog series, I hope the change in weather has inspired your own dreams!

This week I am delighted to welcome Sophie E Tallis, author and illustrator of The Darkling Chronicles. Sophie is one of my favourite debut authors, and another fellow member of the wonderful Alliance of Worldbuilders.

I feel really honoured actually, because Sophie has contributed two pieces – her own Castles of Dreams, and an excerpt from Book One of the Darkling Chronicles, White Mountain. I’m running these side by side, this week, with the change in the weather, I’m going to let Sophie tell you about her favourite “real” castles, in the hope it may inspire you to visit your own.

Over to you Sophie…

Ever since I was child I have loved dragons, trees and castles. I grew up in a small village but the local town was less than a 10 minute bike ride away and had its own castle, Thornbury Castle. Now as castles go it’s pretty new, built in 1511, and was built as more of a Tudor country home and status symbol than as a real fortified castle.

Wikipedia Image – Thornbury Castle

But. it marked my first foray and love of history and old buildings. I even did an A-Level History project on it! Now, it’s a rather posh hotel with its own vineyard and restaurant, which also serves a delicious afternoon cream tea in the turret room! As a kid, all plaits and scuffed knees, I used to cycle down and spend hours drawing its beautiful windows and twisted Tudor chimneys. A lovely way to spend a day! But, as beautiful as Thornbury Castle is, and even though it was certainly my ‘local castle’, there are two other castles which are far more dear to me and which I still find remarkably moving and profoundly magical every time I visit. I was about seven when I first went to Tintagel in Cornwall (built 1250, though earlier remains date back to 5th century). Even at that age, I was already aware of the legends of King Arthur, Merlin, Camelot and the Knights of the Round Table. I remember being sneaky and staying up late to watch John Boorman’s Excalibur on the TV, wow, what an impression THAT made! I bought Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana shortly afterwards and found myself immersed in my imaginary world of legend, quest and danger. I love Tintagel, despite all the tourist trappings, there is still a melancholia about the place, a reminder of high times lost long ago and the power of the pounding sea below. A truly wonderful place.

My other ‘castle love’ is the one I found for myself, quite unexpectedly, as I was travelling around on my own. As a teenager, as soon as I could drive, I had a habit of taking off for a few days and having mini-adventures on my own, escaping I guess. I’d always let the road take me where it wanted. I’d stay in tiny B&B places, (a lot of really grotty dives) and even slept in the car once (not recommended in a Citroen 2CV). It was on one of these trips that I found myself in Devon, on the northern fringes of Dartmoor and in what has to be one of the most glorious of ruins, Okehampton Castle (built around 1086). Apparently one of the most haunted places, it sits proudly defiant against the ravages of time, on a small hill (motte and bailey), with a beautiful stream skirting it’s southern flanks. It was a misty sort of day and as I walked up to the ruins, all I could hear was that Excalibur theme tune running through my head. THIS was a place for magic, mysticism, dark doings, heroic deeds, romance and danger. As ruinous as it is and as small, I just fell in love with it. This truly is a castle of dreams…

Inside Okehampton Castle

Okehampton Castle
Sophie that was wonderful. I can’t wait to read the extract from White Mountain next week!

To find out more about Sophie and her writing and her artwork, follow these links:


Author Blog:

Book FB Page:

Author FB page:

Amazon UK:

Amazon US:


Online Artwork:

See you next week!

Leave a comment


  1. Thank you SO much Andrea, I’m very honoured and humbled to be here amongst such wonderful writing talent! I love your Castle of Dreams series, really wonderful and evocative stuff. 😀 xx

  2. Excellent piece, Soph. And i so agree about Tintagel, it is the most wonderful place, with the wild sea boiling about the rocks below the castle walls.

  3. Agree with Will – excellent writing, Sophie. I could picture myself standing there next to you! Now, to scrounge the money up to visit these lovely places for real… 😀

  4. Just fantastic. I love this series!

  5. Wonderful Sophie!! We visited many many castles as children on holiday with our parents, but Tintagel is the one I remember most vividly. Such an awe-inspiring place, definitely one of my favourites too! 😀

  1. Castle of Dreams… | Sophie E Tallis

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