Moynes Court

Has been described as a Questionable Timber Castle (Motte), and also as a Questionable Fortified Manor House

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains

NameMoynes Court
Alternative Names
Historic CountryMonmouthshire
Modern AuthorityMonmouthshire
1974 AuthorityGwent

Moynes Court was originally C13 stone fortified manor house, founded by Sir Bogo de Knovil. The large oval platform encased by a ditch, with a counterscarp bank, now supports an early Tudor three gabled mansion house. C14 gatehouse and 'a sub-rectangular platform, c.56m E-W by 44m, defined by a moat, with an outer bank except on the N, where there is a causewayed entrance (Coflein)'.

Moynes Court has origins as the medieval castle of Moyns built by the Bishop of Llandaff, the moat and mound of which survives to the south west; but the present house was largely rebuilt by the Bishop of Landaff 1609-10 (probably Bishop Francis Godwin) and was occupied as their main seat after leaving Mathern Palace The heraldic plaque over the main entrance to the house has his coat of arms and is dated 1609 to record his rebuilding of the pre-existing country house, but how much of the older house survives within the present one is uncertain. (Cadw listing database–S Fielding RCAHMW 13/07/2005)

The gateway is the surviving portion of the medieval castle of Moyns built by the Bishops of Llandaff, the moat and mound of which survives to the south west (MM187 MON). It probably originated in the C14, suggested by the ribbed arch, but the building had a very major re-modelling, particularly the upper walls, in the early C17, contemporary with Moynes Court, built by the Bishop of Landaff in 1609-10 and occupied as their main seat after leaving Mathern Palace (qv). The Bishop moved to Cardiff in 1763 and Moynes Court was sold by the diocese in 1889. The towers had conical roofs for some unknown period, these were removed in 1893. The Gateway is now owned with the larger portion of Moynes Court (qv), and was restored and re-roofed in c1990.

The towers contain spiral staircases, only the one to the left (from outside) was climbed

This gives access to the room over the arch which contains stone doorways and a small C17 fireplace. The staircase continues to the roof of the tower offering an excellent view of Moynes Court and its surroundings. The two rooms on the right hand side, approached by a different stair, were not seen.

The gateway is built of roughly coursed pink sandstone rubble with a Welsh slate roof. In appearance it is wholly C17 and domestic, and it is only the archway which really suggests medieval origins, and little disturbance is visible in the stonework, other than round the arch and to the right of it on the external face. Rectangular block with the archway off-centre. A tower is attached to the right hand gable and to the rear of the left hand gable. The archway has a 2-centred head and opens onto a ribbed passage with large chamfered ribs; this could be medieval. There is an extremely fine oak double door of 1610, with vertical planks studded with nails, and with ledges on the inner face; a wicket with ogee head in the left hand leaf. To the right of the arch is a 2-light early C17 window with ovolo mullion, dripmould and leaded lattices. Above the arch is a 3-light one similar and another 3-light one in the gable over this. The gable is coped and has a finial. Plain roof with coped gable to left. The right hand tower is square and rises to four corner battlement type finials which were added in 1893, the left hand tower the same. The inner face has the archway off-centre to the right but is otherwise extremely similar. There is a 2-light window to the left of the arch and a small foot arch with 2-centred head to the right, this accesses a studded plank door to the stair. Windows in the gable as before, the gable has kneelers with finials, these are probably chimneys. Slit windows to the tower stairs and a 2-light and a single light one in the upper part of the right hand one. External staircase to the first floor on the left hand tower. (Listed Building Report 2042)

Gatehouse Comments

The gatehouse, which Coflein record 20439 described as '17th century gateway. 2 tall towers. Embattled corners. Arched carriageway. Gable. Stone mullions', is available as a 'luxury period property' for short lets. There is clearly some difference between given histories and the dating of the gatehouse which require further investigation and study. Other than the listings database there seem to be no descriptions of the site as a castle but 'moat and mound' seem to suggest an early motte and bailey. I welcome any information anyone has on this. Certain as a fortified manor house, doubtful as an early timber castle.

- Philip Davis

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

This is a Grade 2* listed building protected by law

Historic Wales CADW listed database record number
The National Monument Record (Coflein) number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceST519908
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  • Salter, Mike, 1991, The Castles of Gwent, Glamorgan and Gower (Malvern) p. 74 (slight)
  • Bradney, Sir Joseph, 1994 (reprint of original 1933 edition), A History of Monmouthshire, Vol IV, The Hundred of Caldicot (Merton Priory Press) p. 50