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Hay Castle

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Hay Castle
Hay Castle, Hay-on-Wye - geograph.org.uk - 583851.jpg
Hay Castle from the north, showing the gateway and keep (left) and the mansion house (right)
Hay Castle is located in Powys
Hay Castle
Location within Powys
General information
Location Hay-on-Wye, Powys, Wales
Coordinates 52°07′36″N 3°12′47″W / 52.12667°N 3.21306°W / 52.12667; -3.21306
Construction started Late 11th or early 12th century

Hay Castle is a medieval fortification and 17th-century mansion house in the small town of Hay-on-Wye in Powys, Wales. Originally constructed as part of the Norman invasion of Wales, the castle was designed as a ringwork overlooking the town in either the late-11th or early-12th centuries. It was rebuilt in stone around 1200 by the de Braose family and then had a turbulent history, being attacked and burnt several times during the First and Second Barons' Wars, the wars with the Welsh princes, the rebellion of Owain Glyndŵr and the Wars of the Roses. In the 17th century a Jacobean mansion house was built alongside the medieval keep and the property became a private home. Serious fires in 1939 and 1977 gutted the castle and, despite repairs in the 1980s, by the 21st century much of the building was derelict and unstable. Since 2011 it has been owned by the Hay Castle Trust who plan to renovate the property to form an arts and education centre.

History[edit]

11th–16th centuries[edit]

Depiction of Hay-on-Wye in 1823, showing the castle overlooking the town

The Normans began to make incursions into South Wales from the late-1060s onwards, pushing westwards from their bases in recently occupied England.[1] Their advance was marked by the construction of castles and the creation of regional lordships.[2] The Norman adventurer Bernard de Neufmarché conquered Brecknock in 1091 and assigned the manor of Hay to one of his followers, Philip Walwyn.[3] The first castle in Hay, later abandoned, was built by St Mary's church outside the main settlement, where a motte known as Hay Tump still survives.[4] The English lordship of Hay, known as Hay Anglicana, became a wealthy walled town and the lands passed by marriage to Miles of Gloucester and then into the de Braose family.[5] In the late 11th or early 12th century, a new fortification was built inside Hay-on-Wye itself, on high ground around 200 metres (660 ft) from the old motte, taking the form of an earth ringwork with a stone gate-tower.[6]

The de Braose dynasty expanded Hay Castle in stone around 1200 with a curtain wall reinforced by intramural timbers, turning the gate-tower into a keep.[7] The castle tenants used the chapel of St John in the town for their worship.[8] During the First Barons' War, Reginald de Braose joined the alliance against King John who successfully attacked the castle in 1215.[9] The Welsh prince Llewelyn the Great attacked and burnt the town and castle in 1231 and the castle was then rebuilt by Henry III in 1233.[10] During the Second Barons' War, Prince Edward captured the castle in 1263 but it was recaptured and burnt by Simon de Montfort and Llywelyn ap Gruffudd the following year.[9] It was further damaged by the Welsh rebellion led by Owain Glyndŵr around 1401 and in 1460 during the Wars of the Roses.[11] By the time the antiquarian John Leland visited in the 16th century, the town of Hay was "wonderfully decaied" although the castle was described as having once "bene right stately".[12]

17th–19th centuries[edit]

Depiction of the castle in 1816

Hay Castle was substantially expanded in the 17th century, creating a Jacobean mansion.[13] Two explanations have been offered by historians for this redevelopment. One option is that during the first half of the 17th century, Howell Gwynne built a manor house to the west of the old keep, which was replaced by a new mansion in 1660 by James Boyle of Hereford.[13] Another reverses this sequence, suggesting that James Boyle left the castle to Howell Gwynne in 1603, and that the mansion was built at the beginning of the century.[14] In either case, the Jacobean building was two storeys tall, three with its facade included, and featured seven dormer gables in a Dutch style and a large staircase.[15] It was built from stone and incorporated the upper floors of the old keep into its design.[16] Formal gardens were constructed outside the keep either around the start of the 17th century or after 1660.[17] In 1702, the house was divided up among different tenants, and passed into the hands of the local Wellington family.[18] Until 1812, the basement of the keep was used to supplement the town gaol.[19]

In 1809, the industrialist Sir Joseph Bailey leased the castle, going on to purchase it outright in 1844, and established a walled kitchen garden known as Castle Gardens to the south-west of the main castle.[20] It was used as a vicarage from 1825 onwards, including by Archdeacon William Bevan.[21] The terraced gardens were maintained during the 19th century, with various trees planted behind the castle in the 1860s and 1870s, and a stable block was built within the grounds.[22]

20th–21st centuries[edit]

Plan of the castle in the 21st century; A – terraced gardens; B – mansion; C – keep and gateway; D – stable and service block; E – rear garden

Between 1904 and 1906 the castle was rented by the Morell family, after which it was occupied by the Dowager Lady Glanusk.[13] The architect W. D. Caroe was employed to restore the house in 1910 and it was sold to the banker Benjamin Guiness in 1937.[13] A major fire then destroyed the interior of the eastern side of the castle in 1939.[23] Around 1961, the castle was acquired by Richard Booth who used it as a bookstore and as a location for parties, with a holiday cottage in the grounds.[24] Much of the walled garden was sold for development in 1975, and another fire in 1977 destroyed the interior of the western half of the castle: repairs were carried out from the 1980s onwards.[25]

In 2011 the castle was sold for around £2 million to the Hay Castle Trust, who intended to turn it into an arts and education centre.[26] The firm of Rick Mather Architects were taken on in 2015 to manage the work at a projected cost of £4.35 million, to include a new art gallery and a viewing point at the top of the keep.[27] A grant of £528,600 from the Heritage Lottery Fund in 2014 supported initial planning, and further grants were given by the Country Houses Foundation and the Headley Trust.[28]

The castle site is now approximately 110 by 100 metres (360 by 330 ft) across.[29] As of 2015, the derelict, roofless parts of the castle are in a poor structural condition and infested with ivy, with other parts suffering from death watch beetle.[30] None of the earthworks or curtain wall survive, except for a small portion next to the gateway; this fragment of wall is 6 feet (1.8 m) thick and shows the original bank to have been as much as 25 feet (7.6 m) high when viewed from the outside, but is now in danger of collapse.[31] The wooden door on the left side of the gateway probably dates from around 1300, and the right door from the early-17th century, but they are currently unusable.[32] There are some limited remains of the old walled garden interspersed in the modern housing estate.[33] The main castle site is protected under law as a Grade I listed building.[10]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Carpenter 2004, p. 110
  2. ^ Prior 2006, p. 141; Carpenter 2004, p. 110
  3. ^ Evans 1912, pp. 80–81
  4. ^ King 1961, p. 70
  5. ^ Evans 1912, p. 81; "Hay Castle: A Turbulent History", Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales, retrieved 2 May 2016 ; "Hay-on_Wye" (PDF), Clwyd Powys Archaeological Trust, retrieved 2 May 2016 
  6. ^ King 1961, p. 69; "Hay-on_Wye" (PDF), Clwyd Powys Archaeological Trust, retrieved 2 May 2016 
  7. ^ "Hay-on_Wye" (PDF), Clwyd Powys Archaeological Trust, retrieved 2 May 2016 ; Higham & Barker 2004, p. 184
  8. ^ "Hay-on_Wye" (PDF), Clwyd Powys Archaeological Trust, retrieved 2 May 2016 
  9. ^ a b Samuel Lewis (1849), "'Hay – Herbrandston', in A Topographical Dictionary of Wales", British History Online, retrieved 2 May 2016 
  10. ^ a b Cadw, "Hay Castle, Hay", British Listed Buildings, retrieved 2 May 2016 
  11. ^ Samuel Lewis (1849), "'Hay – Herbrandston', in A Topographical Dictionary of Wales", British History Online, retrieved 2 May 2016 ; Cadw, "Hay Castle, Hay", British Listed Buildings, retrieved 2 May 2016 ; "Hay Castle", Coflein, p. 2, retrieved 2 May 2016 
  12. ^ Smith 1906, p. 111
  13. ^ a b c d "Hay Castle", Coflein, p. 2, retrieved 2 May 2016 
  14. ^ "Hay Castle", Coflein, p. 2, retrieved 2 May 2016 ; "Hay Castle Newsletter", Hay Castle Trust, Autumn 2015, retrieved 2 May 2015 
  15. ^ "Hay Castle", Coflein, p. 2, retrieved 2 May 2016 ; "Castle House Hay", Coflein, retrieved 2 May 2016 
  16. ^ "Hay Castle", Coflein, retrieved 2 May 2016 ; "Castle House Hay", Coflein, retrieved 2 May 2016 
  17. ^ Briggs 1991, p. 154; "Hay Castle", Coflein, p. 3, retrieved 2 May 2016 
  18. ^ Cadw, "Hay Castle, Hay", British Listed Buildings, retrieved 2 May 2016 ; "Hay Castle", Coflein, p. 2, retrieved 2 May 2016 
  19. ^ "Hay Castle", Coflein, p. 2, retrieved 2 May 2016 ; "Hay Castle: A Turbulent History", Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales, retrieved 2 May 2016 
  20. ^ "Hay Castle", Coflein, pp. 2, 4, retrieved 2 May 2016 
  21. ^ "Hay Castle", Coflein, p. 2, retrieved 2 May 2016 ; Forde 2015, p. 14
  22. ^ Briggs 1991, p. 154; "Hay Castle", Rick Mather Architects, retrieved 2 May 2016 ; "Castle House Hay", Coflein, retrieved 2 May 2016 
  23. ^ Forde 2015, p. 15
  24. ^ "Hay Castle", Coflein, p. 2, retrieved 2 May 2016 ; Forde 2015, pp. 14–15; "Gone for nearly £2m – Hay-on-Wye's Norman castle is sold", Wales Online, 22 March 2013, retrieved 2 May 2016 
  25. ^ Forde 2015, pp. 115; Briggs 1991, p. 154
  26. ^ "Gone for nearly £2m – Hay-on-Wye's Norman castle is sold", Wales Online, 23 May 2011, retrieved 2 May 2016 ; "Hay Castle Restoration Boosted by Significant Grants", Hereford Times, 21 September 2015, retrieved 2 May 2016 
  27. ^ "Hay Castle", Rick Mather Architects, retrieved 2 May 2016 
  28. ^ "Lottery grant of £500,000 for Hay Castle revamp", BBC News, 31 May 2014, retrieved 2 May 2016 
  29. ^ "Hay-on-Wye Castle, Masonry Phases", Clwyd Powys Archaeological Trust, retrieved 2 May 2016 
  30. ^ "Restoring Hay Castle: 'Ivy is holding the roof together'", The Telegraph, 23 May 2015, retrieved 2 May 2016 ; "Hay Castle Restoration Boosted by Significant Grants", Hereford Times, 21 September 2015, retrieved 2 May 2016 
  31. ^ King 1961, p. 69; Forde 2015, p. 15
  32. ^ Burton 2010–2011, p. 253; Forde 2015, p. 15
  33. ^ "Hay Castle", Rick Mather Architects, retrieved 2 May 2016 ; "Hay Castle", Coflein, p. d, retrieved 2 May 2016 

Bibliography[edit]

  • Briggs, C. S. (1991). "Garden Archaeology in Wales". In Brown, A. E. Garden Archaeology: Papers Presented to a Conference at Knuston Hall, Northamptonshire, April 1988. London, UK: Council for British Archaeology. pp. 138–159. ISBN 1-872414-17-6. 
  • Burton, Peter A. (2010–2011). "Original Castle Gates and Doors – A Survey". The Castle Studies Group Journal (24): 246–259. 
  • Carpenter, David (2004). The Struggle for Mastery: The Penguin History of Britain 1066–1284. London, UK: Penguin. ISBN 978-0-14-014824-4. 
  • Evans, Christopher J. (1912). Breconshire. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. 
  • Forde, Mari (2015). "Saving the Castle in the Town of Books". Rural Wales (Autumn 2015): 14–15. 
  • Higham, Robert; Barker, Philip (2004). Timber Castles. Exeter, UK: University of Exeter Press. ISBN 978-0-85989-753-2. 
  • King, D.J. Cathcart (1961). "The Castles of Breconshire". Brycheiniog. 7: 71–94. 
  • Prior, Stuart (2006). A Few Well-Positioned Castles: The Norman Art of War. Stroud, UK: Tempus. ISBN 978-0-7524-3651-7. 
  • Smith, Toulmin (1906). The Itinerary in Wales of John Leland in or about the years 1536–1539. London, UK: George Bell and Sons.