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Former Castle Hotel Chef, Neil Matthews, interview



"I wanted to work with Richard Guest at The Castle Hotel, simply because his food is the best I’ve ever tasted in my life."






The first ever BRAZZ Comedy Night was a huge success!




Somerset County Cricket Club are delighted to announce that international rock legend Rod Stewart will be performing a concert at The County Ground on Wednesday 18 June 2014 in support of Somerset-based St Margaret’s Hospice!




Book your advance tickets at



Castle Bow Bar & Grill makes it in the Good Food Guide 2014





Tuesday, 10th September 2013

“Superb in every way” claims the just-published 2014 Good Food Guide about Chef Liam Finnegan’s “carefully considered cooking”.

After a year’s absence due to a change of chef, The Castle storms back with Somerset’s top restaurant ranking.

The write-up in the Good Food Guide continues: “A lusciously elegant, 1920’s-style dining room, overseen by assured and friendly staff, makes a relaxed but suitably special setting for “imaginative and creative dishes informed by classic techniques and flavour combinations”.

Proprietor Kit Chapman commented: “I am absolutely thrilled to be back in The Good Food Guide. I am very proud of our great young team both in the kitchen and front of house”.

For further information, please contact Sarah Berry on T: 01823 328304



Thursday, 6th June 2013
Kevin Horner of Stoke St Gregory won the ‘Day in the Castle Kitchen with Liam Finnegan’ competition after his name was drawn out of several hundred entries shortly after 12.00 noon on Friday, 31st May.


Mr Horner will enjoy a day of ‘hands on’ tutelage under the experienced guidance of Head Chef, Liam Finnegan preparing a menu of his choice. The fruits of his labours will be enjoyed by Mr Horner and his wife, Linda, in The Castle's stylish Art Deco Grill Room - Castle Bow Bar & Grill, followed by an overnight stay in one of The Castle’s Garden Rooms.


Kit Chapman, proprietor of The Castle, commented: “Congratulations to Mr Horner! You can look forward to a really interesting and exciting day with Liam.”



The Castle at Taunton One of the 50 Best British Hotels
From romantic boltholes in the Scottish Highlands to chic city-centre boutiques, Sophie Morris offers the experts’ guide to the nation’s greatest places to get away from it all...

VIEW >>>


FoodBank Trolley Push Against Poverty


Tuesday, 9th April 2013 in front of HMV, Taunton


Fundraising for Taunton Foodbank to help feed local people in crisis


As the Welfare Reforms start to take effect, growing numbers of people are turning to Foodbanks for emergency food. Foodbanks across the UK are joining the Trussell Trust’s nationwide Trolley Push to help stop people going hungry.


The Foodbank trolley, like the Olympic torch, is making its way around the UK, starting in Salisbury on Monday 8th April and will arrive in Taunton at 10am on Tuesday 9th April, outside HMV in the town centre.


The Trolley nicknamed ‘Phil’ will be visiting 50 Foodbank locations and covering more than 2,300 miles as it tours the country over five weeks. Taunton Foodbank will be raising money and awareness for people in crisis needing emergency food parcels. The Foodbank has seen a significant increase in the need for emergency food parcels and anticipate a further increase as the Welfare Reforms take effect.


Taking part in a nationwide campaign of The Trussell Trust, Taunton Foodbank is calling for people to help fill ‘Phil’ the trolley by donating money, which will be used to support their work and benefit of local people who are unable to buy food.


Activities will include:

  • Matt Buckley, Sous chef from the Castle Hotel, will be preparing a meal using the ingredients from an emergency food parcel
  • Buying a piece of cake in the shape of a shopping trolley
  • Trying to knock over baked bean cans and destroy poverty
  • Guessing how much food the Foodbank has given away since opening
  • Children’s activities
  • Sponsoring a food basket

    As well as making people aware of Taunton Foodbank, the goal of the event is to raise at least £500. Everyone is invited to join and donate money for the purchase of new boxes for Taunton Foodbank. These boxes are used for a safe and easy storage as well as transportation of food that has been donated. For £3 a box can be bought and the name of the sponsor will be attached to it.


    All of the money paid will be collected in the trolley itself. Between 10am and 12 noon we aim to fill the trolley to the top. People are encouraged to pay a visit to the stand, to help fill the trolley with money and to sponsor storage boxes.


    Keith Whittaker from Taunton Foodbank said: “We really need the help of people in Taunton as we are seeing a significant increase in people needing emergency food parcels. We anticipate a further increase as the welfare reforms take effect.”


    Since the official start of Taunton Foodbank in July 2012, over 600 people have been fed, including more than 150 children.





    Liam Finnegan, Marc Mac Closkey & Hilde Stuiver


    Taunton’s family-owned Castle Hotel has won two early catering contracts which mark the successful launch of its new Castle Events & Contract Catering division. The two contracts, for the Museum of Somerset and the Somerset County Library, were awarded after a competitive tendering process in January.


    In 2011, the Museum of Somerset reopened after a £7 million refit which harnessed world-class curating values to create a remarkable new visitor attraction. Its 90,000 visitors through 2012 have made the museum Taunton’s top tourist destination. The museum also includes a fabulous exhibition of artefacts in the 12th century Great Hall, a dramatic space which can accommodate up to 200 people for special events for which The Castle will now cater.


    The bid for the contracts was led by Marc Mac Closkey, Director & General Manager of The Castle. He was supported by the hotel’s Director of Finance, Jon Peilow, and Head Chef, Liam Finnegan, who will direct the production kitchen.


    The Board has appointed Hilde Stuiver, also a member of the bid team, as Head of the new division. Ms Stuiver, who is Dutch with a degree from Maastrict University’s School of Hospitality Management, has 20 years’ experience in the business. Her international career includes stints with Four Seasons hotels and Mandarin Oriental.


    Kit Chapman, Proprietor of The Castle, commented: “ We are all thrilled by this early success. Hilde Stuiver is an outstanding professional who has the flair and ability to develop our new business. Indeed, we already have more contracts in our sights and we are in negotiation to cater for a major event in Taunton later this year.” 


    Carrie Blogg, Business Manager at the Museum of Somerset, said: “We are delighted to be working with The Castle Hotel on this exciting new venture. The museum has become well known for its high standards of customer service, and the hotel’s excellent reputation for great food and great service will enhance this even further.”







    Taunton’s historic Castle Hotel has appointed General Manager Marc Mac Closkey a Director of the company after only twelve months in post.


    Proprietor Kit Chapman commented: “My Family and fellow directors were unanimous in their decision”.

    Louise Chapman went on: “Marc’s arrival last year was something of a baptism of fire with all the disruption of the development works on Castle Green.


    “In spite of this challenge, he led the successful opening of our new restaurant - Castle Bow Bar & Grill – and recruited Liam Finnegan, a fellow Irishman, as its star Chef.”


    The Castle’s new Grill restaurant is a £100,000 investment in an exciting Art Deco-inspired dining room designed by Mrs Chapman.


    “Finally”, noted Kit Chapman, “in the face of this period of severe economic austerity, Marc ended 2012 by achieving the Hotel’s most successful Christmas and New Year Season ever! He has established The Castle, The Grill and BRAZZ as where you want to be for a great party!


    “As for 2013, we are delighted to report an upsurge in wedding bookings. And we are expecting to announce an exciting new business venture very shortly.”


    For further information, please contact either Sarah Berry on 01823 328304 or Lorrie Kelly on 01823 328324.





    It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas... to watch the preparations, click here!




    WAR MEMORIALS: a talk by Sue Tall
    Saturday 10 November 2012 at 2.00pm
    Somerset Heritage Centre


    Friends of Somerset Archives will be holding a talk on Saturday, 10th November in the Somerset Heritage Centre "War Memorials" with Sue Tall.


    Admission is free for members and under 16s. £3 donation is suggested for non-members that would like to attend.





    If you haven't seen the newly rejeuvenated Castle Green public space, November and December will offer some wonderful opportunities to 'Come and join the fun'!


    Here's the line-up of upcoming events:


    Saturday, 17 & Sunday, 18 November from 9.30am until 8.00pm you can enjoy the Castle Green Fun Fair in support of Taunton Christmas Street Fair and the 'Make Taunton Sparkle' campaign. Free family crafts and Santa's grotto are sure to delight the children (Museum of Somerset - £3 per child).


    On Thursday, 22nd November between 6.00 - 9.00pm Queens College will showcase their musical production of 'Our House', a celebration of 35 years of London band, Madness. It is also the first official night of late Christmas shopping!


    Saturday, 1st December you can enjoy the Community Christmas Carol Event & Brass Band on the green & make a free paper lantern at The Museum of Somerset between 2 - 4.30pm.


    Friday, 7th December, Castle Green will be filled with festive cheer as The Castle Hotel will host the Exeter Cathedral Choir Evening. Carols, entertainment and a 3-course dinner with the choristers costs £69 (to include wine).


    And in BRAZZ there will be a Christmas Party Night complete with 3-course dinner, a strolling magician and disco til 1am! Price: £37.50, but if you buy 9 you get the 10th free!


    Also on Friday, 7th December there will be a Lady's Night Fashion Show and other events in aid of Breast Cancer.


    On Saturday, 8th December Taunton's Beer Festival with live music will be held on Castle Green. And the day after, Sunday, 9th December, there will be BreakFest on the green.


    Whatever you do, you simply shouldn't miss the Traditional Christmas Street Fair being held on Saturday, 15th December between 10.30am and 5.00pm. Market stalls, festive music, traditional Christmas rides, crafts and the Great Taunton Turkey Derby will be followed by Somerset folk carols at 7.30pm in the Museum of Somerset. All in aid of CLIC sergeant. Advance tickets can be purchased for £8pp.



    Kit Chapman calls for a cut in VAT for the Hospitality and Tourism industry. And for the portfolio to move to the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills.

    In a wide-ranging keynote speech at the University of Surrey this weekend, Kit Chapman, proprietor of The Castle at Taunton, will be calling on government to start taking the Hospitality & Tourism industry seriously. (The speech will be broadcast live online at 11.00am Saturday, 14th July 2012


    Currently under the aegis of the Department of Culture, Media & Sport, Mr Chapman wants Hospitality & Tourism moved to the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills as part of the portfolio of the Trade Minister.


    "We are not some kind of Tom & Jerry show!" he says. "We generate £90 billion of direct business annually for the UK, support over 2.5 million jobs and rank among the top six biggest sectors in our economy."

    Dismissing as "arrant nonsense" and a "huge porkie" the government's claim that UK tourism is a "priority industry", Mr Chapman goes on to state: "George Osborne's U-turn on the pasty tax and VAT on holiday caravans betrays the government's cynical indifference to the value of tourism to UK plc. They just don't get it. The Westminster/Whitehall machine has not registered our country's huge potential in this globalised and highly competitive business world".


    On VAT he says: "We are competing with our European neighbours with one arm tied behind our back. In France VAT on hotels has been reduced to 5.5%. In Italy it is 10% and Spain 8%. Indeed, our industry is now ranked 135th out of 139 countries on price competitiveness". He wants to see VAT on hotels and restaurants slashed to 5% to boost jobs, investment and growth in the sector.


    Mr Chapman has been invited to speak at the University of Surrey's Guildford Campus for its inaugural International Alumni Day on Saturday, 14th July.


    His speech, aimed at a general audience of over 400 delegates and covering a range of issues including the UK's failing educational system and benefit culture, will be screened live as a webcast at 11.00am on Saturday morning. Go to


    For more information:
    Contact Lorrie Kelly at The Castle Hotel, Taunton, TA1 1NF
    Tel: 01823 328324



    Our big news story this summer is the opening of our new restaurant, Castle Bow Bar & Grill. A retro-chic new dining space that promises to be cool, informal & stylish with a delicious menu of seasonal dishes - both à la carte and fixed price. We think you'll love it!




    Marc Mac Closkey New General Manager of The Castle and BRAZZ
    We are delighted to announce that Marc Mac Closkey will be taking up his position as General Manager at The Castle on Monday, 9th January 2012. Read More...




    Battersea 120 event
    Graduates from both Battersea Polytechnic and the College of Technology were invited to receive Honorary Bachelor Degree awards at a special ceremony on 2 November 2011 to mark the University of Surrey's 120th anniversary. Among the graduates was our beloved proprietor, Kit Chapman.




    The Castle at Taunton launches its own "Great British Bake Off"!
    9 October 2011

    We've decided to launch our own open competition, calling on all bakers - gifted amateurs as well as professionals - to register your interest send a written or emailed application to Kit Chapman.




    The MUSEUM of SOMERSET Opening
    Thursday, 29 September 2011

    With amazing new galleries to explore, and extraordinary objects to discover, the Museum of Somerset is a must-see visitor attraction for everyone from Somerset and beyond.




    Taunton Literary Festival Programme of Events
    Tuesday, 28th June

    Brendon Books inaugural Taunton Literary Festival website is now online, with over 40 events over 11 days at venues all over Taunton.




    Letter from the Archipelago: Politics, ouzo and a souvlaki with horta!
    16th June 2011, by Kit Chapman

    These are dark days for Greece. Commentators are beginning to wonder if the country is ungovernable as an embattled George Papandreou faces riots on the streets of Athens, general strikes and a parliament in disarray over the IMF/EU rescue plan.




    Letter from the Archipelago: A wedding on Lake Como
    6th June 2011 by Kit Chapman

    We have returned to our Aegean island – the place that provided so much inspiration for the writing of My Archipelago, my latest book.




    Our Garden Party on July 3rd will feature BBQ Cider-Can Chicken!
    May 28, 2011 by Kit Chapman

    Ah! The garden party! That great English institution of the English summer. An opportunity to show off your garden to friends, neighbours and visitors just at that moment when your borders, shrubs and rose bushes are in their prime.




    The Tesla Electric car battles with Ferrari for a carbon-free world at Taunton's Castle Hotel
    Saturday, May 21st

    This weekend, The Castle at Taunton will mark an historic moment in mankind's search for a clean energy future.




    An open message to George Goring, OBE and The Goring Hotel by Kit Chapman
    A report about you in the Sunday Times (08.05.11) had me gasping for breath!
    Michael Caines, the Dean of Exeter and how charity is good for business
    On Friday, Louise and I enjoyed another excellent lunch at Michael Caines's restaurant, Abode in Exeter- aka the Royal Clarence Hotel.




    The Royal Wedding: The greatest marketing show on Earth
    April 30, 2011 by Kit Chapman

    I must confess to a twinge of envy for my old pal George Goring, owner of the eponymous hotel which became the Middleton family's billet before the Royal Wedding. At a stroke, The Goring has become world famous and the most famous hotel in London. For years to come, this 5-star address will become the most desirable place to stay for visitors to the capital.




    Von Essen Hotels – A case of one man's hubris
    April 22, 2011 by Kit Chapman

    For many observers, the demise of Von Essen Hotels has come as no surprise. What is surprising is that it took so long.




    Valerie Harper & Gill Whatmore
    After more than 40 years of outstanding service here at the Castle, Valerie Harper and Gill Whatmore celebrated their retirement with a wonderful springtime luncheon in our Penthouse.




    BRAZZ@The Castle will offer Jamie Raftery's perfect Chicken Liver Parfait
    Saturday, March 5th

    In April we shall be relaunching BRAZZ, the Castle's town-centre bar and brasserie. But, I hasten to add, the revamped menu will still retain all the old favourites… our famous fishcakes, our fish 'n' chips, our steaks and burgers, and so on.




    A tale of snails, sea urchins, frogs' legs and calves' heads
    Sunday, 27th February

    "I call it Beatrix Potter syndrome – a condition which makes English middle class stomachs wrench in the face of menus offering esoteric French classics."




    The Castle Restaurant will be transformed into a private events space on 4th April
    From 4th April 2011, The Castle Restaurant will be transformed into a private events space, devoted to parties, functions and special occasions. BRAZZ will become our exclusive restaurant, with the professional team from The Castle running the show.




    60 Years at the Castle, HT interview with Kit Chapman
    Kit Chapman's energy, personality and enthusiasms have ensured that the Castle Hotel, Taunton 'punches well above its weight' in this business. A 44 bedroom hotel in a West Country market town would not normally aspire to a national reputation, but "The Castle" does and it has earned it.




    Somerset Food and Drink "An interview with Jamie Raftery"
    JAMIE RAFTERY has been appointed head chef at Kit Chapman's Castle hotel in Taunton. He follows in the footsteps of Gary Rhodes, Phil Vickery and Richard Guest, who have all spearheaded Chapman's vision for increasing the prominence of English cuisine.




    Wassailing The Castle's Apple Orchard in glorious mud!
    18 January 2011

    They came over the Levels through mediaeval mists and thin, intermittent rain. Scores 0f our most loyal, most resolute clients – all bound for Charlton Orchards near Creech St Michael. And what for? To wassail our new apple saplings in deep, thick, sticky mud – an orchard of 60 trees to mark 60 years of the Chapman dynasty at Taunton's Castle Hotel.




    The Castle at Taunton supports Fish Fight!




    Michel Roux's Service on BBC 2: A coup for the restaurant industry
    The arrival Michel Roux's Service, an eight-part prime time TV series which introduces a group of young front-of-house career hopefuls to the restaurant world, is the greatest PR breakthrough our industry has seen in over 30 years.




    An embarrassment of apples. "Drink up and we'll wassail thee"!
    Last week I wrote a letter to all members of The Castle Dining Club – 338 supporters of our special events and, indeed, our most loyal clients. My purpose was to invite them to "wassail" or celebrate the planting of our own orchard of 60 apple trees to mark the 60th year of the Chapman Family's custodianship of the hotel.




    The Castle at Taunton Unveils its 60th Anniversary Apple Orchard
    On 17th January (Old Twelfth Night), the Castle Hotel in Taunton will be unveiling an orchard of 60 apple trees, planted to mark the 60th year of the Chapman family's custodianship of the hotel in 2010.




    Why no matter how hot it's got in the kitchen, Kit has always kept it in the family
    Article featured 28th December, 2010 in the Westcountry Life.
    "Anyone who has ever met Kit Chapman, owner of The Castle at Taunton, knows how passionately he cares about the luxury hotel that has been run by his family for three generations, spanning 60 years."




    One of this country's great castle hotels, the Castle at Taunton in the heart of Somerset has put together a honeymoon for 2011, befitting of royalty – not least the future King William and Queen Catherine. The package includes two night's accommodation in the Castle's luxury Penthouse, with its commanding views of the Quantocks and the Blackdown Hills. A personal butler will be on-hand to ensure that regal requests are fulfilled. The honeymoon costs £2,500, and is available from April 2011. Telephone the Castle Hotel on 01823 328332 or visit for reservations or enquiries.




    Congratulations to William and Kate!
    News has just reached us that Prince William and Kate Middleton are to be married next year. The venue is yet to be announced but where better than a castle? You too can have a royal wedding here at the Castle and for more details on what we can offer you, go to our wedding page or better still come in and see us!




    News from Kit Chapman…June 2010
    As I write these words, the sun is streaming through the windows of the Castle Hotel and shining on the roses in the Norman Garden. And so it has been doing for the past several days. So, let us look forward to a jolly summer with plenty of excitements to amuse you.




    Keep It In The Family, BBC 2 – The Castle at Taunton
    Once a mainstay of business life, the traditional family firm is rapidly becoming a thing of the past. In Britain nine out of ten family businesses now fail to make it past the second generation.




    Unique Easter Festival Celebrates Haydn Bicentenary
    In a ten-day Easter Festival, Taunton's Castle Hotel is playing host to ten of the world's great string quartets who will be performing all 68 Haydn string quartets including four performances of the Seven Last Words op. 51. No other performing arts centre, never mind a hotel, is undertaking a festival on this scale.


    t: 01823 272671

    Castle Green, Taunton, TA1 1NF

    Follow The Castle at Taunton on Twitter! @castletauntonLike The Castle at Taunton on Facebook! Read Liam Finnegan's Blog - Head Chef, The Castle at Taunton, Hotel in Somerset Britains's Finest Luxury Hotels Read the The Good Hotel Guide review Best Loved Hotels logo The Castle Hotel earned its 4-star rating from Visit England