Our History

The Castle was built in 1830 by Sir Goldsworthy Gurney.

It was the middle section of The Castle that is seen today. He rented the land off the Acland family and engineered a way to build his house in amongst the sand dunes. His contemporaries scoffed, to which he said, ‘we’ll have to wait and see’. The Castle has stood the test of time and is evidence to his brilliance.

Sir Goldsworthy Gurney is often described as Cornwall’s ‘Forgotten Genius’. He trained as a surgeon but excelled as an inventor, engineer and scientist. Gurney was inspired by another Cornish engineer, the better known Richard Trevithick, and you may be surprised to discover he came up with numerous inventions and innovations that changed British life.

One of Gurney’s most innovative ideas involved his home here at The Castle, where by injecting a stream of oxygen into an oil flame, he invented a completely new system of lighting known as the Bude Light which was used to illuminate Trafalgar Square, Pall Mall and the Houses of Parliament as well as The Castle. Other inventions included Limelight, which lit the stages in Victorian theatres, the Gurney Stove which heated hundreds of churches, cathedrals and the Houses of Parliament and a system to fumigate mines making them safe to work.

Subsequent residents were: Reverend William Maskell who extended the building further to its present size it is today, Charles Morgan Cowie, who took an active role in the community and lastly, his niece, Lady Nicholson.

Lady Nicholson and her husband, Admiral Nicholson, took over the lease in 1930. Lady Nicholson then took ownership of The Castle, off the Acland family, becoming the first and only owner and resident. During their time at The Castle, the Nicholson’s, championed White Russian emigres fleeing Russia during the revolution. Russian princes and members of the Tolstoy family all stayed with them. She then sold The Castle to Bude Urban District Council in 1947.

The Castle then became the home of the council in different guises including the magistrate’s court and the town library. In 2007 The Castle was converted to the heritage centre which it is today.