Manorbier Castle

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Manorbier Castle
Part of Pembrokeshire
Manorbier, Wales
Manorbier Castle.jpg
The castle stands right on the coast just above the beach.
Manorbier Castle South Wales Inner Ward.jpg
The inner ward of the castle.
TypeNorman Rectangular castle
HeightUp to 16 metres (52 ft)
Site information
Open to
the public
ConditionPartially restored
Site history
Built12th Century
Built byWilliam de Barri
Listed Building – Grade I

Manorbier Castle (Welsh: Castell Maenorbŷr) is a Norman castle located in the village of Manorbier, five miles south-west of Tenby, West Wales. The castle was part of a mesne lorship under the control of the medieval Earls of Pembroke. It was founded in the late 11th century by the Anglo-Norman de Barry family.


Manorbier is a rectangular enclosure castle that has curtain walls and round and square towers. It stands on a natural coastal promontory and has no external moat. The main entrance to the inner ward is a tower gateway that was defended by a portcullis, roof embrasures and a heavy iron/wood door. A postern gate provided access to the beach and boats. The south-east tower is round but the north-east one is angular. The castle's domestic ranges, which were completed in the 1140s, included kitchens, apartments and a Great hall. Windows replaced the arrowslits in the domestic range. A chapel with elaborate vaulting and plaster-work was built around 1260. Some of the original medieval frescoes survive.

Earthworks completed an outer ward but there was no barbican. A bridge across a neck ditch linked the inner and outer wards.


The castle was originally built on land granted to Odo de Barri, a Norman knight, at the end of the 11th century. Initially he constructed a Motte-and-bailey on the site which had a wooden keep defended by a palisade and earthworks embankments. In the early part of the 12th century, William de Barri, Odo's son, used locally-quarried Limestone to strengthen the fortification.

In 1146 Gerald of Wales, the great 12th century scholar known as Geraldus Cambrensis was born at the castle. He was the fourth and youngest son of William de Barri, who was related on his mothers's side, to the legendary Welsh princess Nest ferch Rhys. Gerald wrote of his birthplace:

In all the broad lands of Wales, Manorbier is the most pleasant place by far.

In the castle's history, it was only attacked twice; both were minor skirmishes. In 1327, Richard de Barri assaulted Manorbier in a dispute over family succession. Then 300 years later during the English Civil War, the castle was seized in 1645 by Parliamentarian forces. It was then slighted to prevent further military use by the Royalists.

Through the 17th and 18th centuries Manorbier fell into decay. However, in 1880 the castle was partially restored by J.R.Cobb, a tenant who carried out repairs to the buildings and walls.

Present day[edit]

The entrance seen from the north east

The castle is now privately owned. It is along with the gardens, dovecote and mill open to the public. The castle is also a wedding venue. Parts of it have been converted into a holiday cottage.

Media appearances[edit]

The castle was used as Cair Paravel and The White Witch Castle by the BBC in an adaption of The Chronicles of Narnia, and would later be used in Dragonworld.

The 2003 film I Capture the Castle was shot largely on location at the castle.

An episode of the 1960's television series 'Dangerman' ('Secret Agent' in the US), "The Conspirators", was partly shot at the castle.


External links[edit]


Vlitos, Roger. Manorbier Castle & Gerald of Wales. p. 32. OCLC 62573088.

Coordinates: 51°38′44″N 4°47′58″W / 51.64555°N 4.7995°W / 51.64555; -4.7995