Sker House

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Sker House in 1996
Sker House overlooks the sand dunes in Cornelly Community, Bridgend County Borough, South Wales.

Sker House is a historical building in Wales. Originally built as a monastic grange of the Cistercian order over 900 years ago, it is situated just outside the village of Kenfig, near Bridgend. Little remains of the original structure and it was completely rebuilt in the late sixteenth century. Its residential form appears to have been determined by the preceding monastic grange. The house was made famous as the basis of R. D. Blackmore's book The Maid of Sker.


Sker House was constructed about 900 years ago as the grange of Neath Abbey. There would have been a farm with outbuildings and barns, accommodation for the Cistercian monks who worked there and a chapel. Not much of the medieval house remains but one of the buildings may be preserved as part of the nearby large barn, Ty yr Ychen, which is also medieval.[1] In 1543, after the dissolution of the monasteries, the property was purchased by Richard Williams, and soon afterwards repurchased by Christopher Turberville.[2]

The original house had a single storey but in the late sixteenth century, under the ownership of Jenkin Turberville, substantial rebuilding took place, probably retaining the layout of the original building. The house now became a gaunt grey three-storey building with attics. The east wing had two large, symmetrically arranged turrets, where the main doors were and through which all the storeys could be accessed. The west wing had several more randomly-placed turrets and towers, one of which housed a staircase to all floors.[1]

The great hall occupied the central part of the house on the first floor, and extended upwards into the second floor. There was a parlour on one side of this and living accommodation on the other, while the ground floor housed the kitchens, offices and servants quarters.[1]

Modern times[edit]

After the Turbervilles left the property, it was held by absentee landlords and let to a series of tenants and its condition declined. It belonged to the Margam Estate until 1941. After many years of abandonment, the south wing eventually collapsed. Beginning on 31 March 1999, the building underwent a significant restoration.[1] The project ended in July 2003. The house's troubled history continued when the contractors for the restoration ran into massive overspending and went into receivership at the end of 1999.

In 2003, the house was sold to Niall Ferguson. It now stands whitewashed in yellow against the backdrop of the barren sands of Kenfig Burrows and the sea. It is a Grade I listed building.[2]


Two ghosts are said to haunt Sker House: the captain of a ship that wrecked on nearby Sker Point, and Elizabeth Williams. Williams' father locked her in a room of the house to prevent her from running off with her lover. Legend has it she died in that room of a broken heart.[3]

Sker House was made famous through a novel written by R.D. Blackmore, The Maid of Sker, published in 1872.[3]

More information[edit]

Coordinates: 51°30′17″N 3°44′14″W / 51.5047°N 3.7371°W / 51.5047; -3.7371


  1. ^ a b c d "The Great House at Sker". Kenfig - The Complete History. Retrieved 9 April 2016.
  2. ^ a b "Sker House, Cornelly". British Listed Buildings. Retrieved 18 July 2015.
  3. ^ a b "Halloween: Haunted house 'reduced a rugby player to tears'". BBC Wales News. BBC Wales. Retrieved 31 October 2018.