Hay Castle

Has been described as a Certain Timber Castle (Ringwork), and also as a Certain Masonry Castle

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains

NameHay Castle
Alternative NamesHay-on-Wye Castle; Gelli; Tregelli; castello de haia; La Haie Taillee
Historic CountryBrecknockshire
Modern AuthorityPowys
1974 AuthorityPowys
CommunityHay

Hay Castle is one of numerous castles in the March, but is unusual in that it has been continuously occupied for the last 800 years. It has a residential keep of c.1200 with a 13th/14th century gateway with pointed archway and portcullis slot. The gate has two phases with different styles of carpentry. The north leaf (with wicket) was thought to be 14th century but this work shows that it is a 17th century replacement; the possibly original south leaf failed to date. The keep is a four-storey residential tower, now unroofed, in which the upper floors were annexed to the adjoining Castle House. Sampling of a first-floor timber fireplace beam showed that the keep had been refitted in the 16th century. Castle House, a Jacobean mansion of about 1660 (NPRN 25592), is built against the tower and the castle enclosure has been adapted for its grounds and gardens. (Coflein–Richard Suggett/RCAHMW/2009)

Early records to the castle probably refer to the motte near the church (PRN 439) which was abandoned when the castle was built. Thought to have been built around 1200. Rebuilt in 1231, suffered extensive damage in 1265 and again in 1460. It consists of a strong ringwork, a square keep and curtain wall, now much altered. A late 12th century gate with portcullis grooves and a medieval door still survive. The keep is incorporated into a later tower. The castle mound is c110 metres east-west by 100 metres north-south, damaged on the west by modern buildings and encircled by a modern retaining wall. Adjoining the tower to the west is a large late Tudor mansion which was badly damaged by fire in 1939. (Silvester, R J & Dorling, P J 1993, 30). (Clwyd Powys Archaeological Trust HER)

Dominating the town with Back Fold, Castle Lane and Oxford Road bordering the castle grounds.

Probably built by Bernard de Newmarch and once surrounded by a moat

The castle is traditionally thought to have been rebuilt by Maude de St Valerie; was burnt by King John in 1216, rebuilt by Henry III in 1233, burnt by Prince Edward in 1263 and later suffered further damage under Owain Glyndwr. The double pile Castle House was begun by James Boyle ca 1660; divided up after 1702 and in 1844 sold to Sir Joseph Bailey. Major restoration by W D Caroe ca 1910; major fires in 1934 (E half) and 1977 (W half); long-term restoration in progress at time of inspection (May 1987).

The interior is partly gutted but retains spinal corridors with largely replaced massive studded partition, pointed Jacobethan openings and timber mullioned internal windows. Replaced A-frame pegged trusses; panelled shutters and doors; chamfered cross beams to 2nd floor. Remains of spiral staircase; dog-leg back stair and openwell timber staircase with swept up handrail - fine Jacobean staircase lost in fire. Projecting stone fireplace to 1st floor and late medieval fireplace to kitchen; late Romanesque quarter-round jambs to pointed arch entrance into spinal passage. Carved head corbels to SW part.

Dominating the town with Back Fold, Castle Lane and Oxford Road bordering the castle grounds. The main front faces the town to NW. 3-storeys, 7-windows; coursed rubble with freestone window dressings and Jacobean shaped gables with finials (central two missing). Stone tile M shaped roof retained to right, the hipped end is thought to be part of Caroe's restoration; roofless hall to left. Massive brick stellar chimney stacks. Mainly small pane sash windows (some missing) or similar dummy windows. Tall central window over former main entrance (reached by modern steps) with pair of fine console brackets; truncated chimney stack above beside paired horned sashes. Scrolled iron brace plates to centre right. Former keep advanced at an angle to left end with massive corner buttresses. Late Romanesque window to ground floor and paired Tudor lights above with labels; broken down wallhead. Attached outer wall of former gatehouse, refaced in 1233 with segmental outer arch and portcullis slot; pointed 2-order arched entrance and studded timber doors, one cross braced to inner side. Battered coursed rubble wall continues to left. Segmental arch to inner side of gateway with rere arch supporting stone staircase to wallwalk and leading in to the now floorless keep with basement to front. SE face of keep retains late Romanesque twin opening under containing arch; dove holes below. Stepped forward to left is a linking bay with irregularly shaped gables, cross-frame windows and diamond leaded glazing under Tudor labels (formerly lighting the main staircase). 5 windows 3-storey SE (garden) front with similar gables to left with quatrefoil panels blocking former attic windows. Sash and casement windows and small rubble porch with pointed arch entrance. (Listed Building Report)

The earliest structure is the slender keep which rises two stories about the basement containing an inserted 19th-century brick wine cellar. The inner southern wall retains a pair of 12th century windows, both of which retain their round-headed rere-arches, the upper its original external tufa dressing and plain two light tracery. Decorative string courses survive at two levels in the eastern, western and southern walls recalling the more elaborate decorated towers at Usk and Goodrich. As initially built the tower appears to have been without integrated stairs and fireplaces. Recent investigations have established that it began as a simple gate tower, the intact inner arch of which was discovered in 2013 within the later wine cellar, the external face at which is buried to above its apex under the present garden to the south. Two low straight joints and an area of patched masonry blocking containing a reset round headed window indicate the position of the corresponding outer arch and can be viewed from the terrace to the north. This is one of a handful of Norman gate towers to survive in Wales and the Marches and may be early de Braose work, echoing the much larger tower at their Sussex caput Bramber.

Out around 1200 the passage was blocked and replaced by a simple transitional gateway with a pointed arch and plain Romanesque squared jambs immediately to the west of the tower and set within a faceted curtain wall, recalling a comparable development at Usk and on a larger scale Ludlow. The arch itself is almost identical to that in William Marshall's middle bailey gate at Chepstow of between 1189 at 1219, and similar to the slightly largest secondary gate at Usk by the younger Marshall between 1213 and 1217 these are almost certainly the work of Reginald or Matilda de Braose. Hanging within the gate are a pair of wooden doors, the western panel being tree-ring dated to the early 17th century and therefore the construction of the Jacobean mansion, whilst the updated eastern panel bears a striking resemblance to the security dated lower bailey gates at Chepstow, the timbers for which were felled between 1159 and 1189. An equally remarkable survival is the wooden sleeve within the drawbar socket and it is hoped that these rarest of survivals can be scientifically dated under the on going programme of conservation works. (Will Davies 2016)

Gatehouse Comments

The initial ringwork was oval enclosure, c.71m by 94m defined by scarps. Although it is usually suggested that Hay castle is a successor to Hay Tump Paul Remfry argues that both sites were occupied at the same time and early records of the castello de haia may refer to either site (More usually to this site). It certainly seems likely the timber castle of Hay Tump did not stay in use for long after the masonry castle was built. The two manors of Hay seem to have became united at an early date.

- Philip Davis

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

This is a Grade 1 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 ReferenceSO229422
Latitude52.0740013122559
Longitude-3.12592005729675
Eastings322930
Northings242290
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink
Photo by Philip Davis. All Rights Reserved

Laitude 52° 4' 24.96" Longitude -3° 7' 33.2"

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Laitude 52° 4' 24.96" Longitude -3° 7' 33.2"

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Laitude 52° 4' 24.96" Longitude -3° 7' 33.2"

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Laitude 52° 4' 24.96" Longitude -3° 7' 33.2"

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Laitude 52° 4' 24.96" Longitude -3° 7' 33.2"

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Laitude 52° 4' 24.96" Longitude -3° 7' 33.2"

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Laitude 52° 4' 24.96" Longitude -3° 7' 33.2"

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Photo by Philip Davis. All Rights Reserved

Laitude 52° 4' 24.96" Longitude -3° 7' 33.2"

Hay Castle-4 15042016 131732.Jpg

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Photo by Philip Davis. All Rights Reserved

Laitude 52° 4' 24.96" Longitude -3° 7' 33.2"

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Photo by Philip Davis. All Rights Reserved

Laitude 52° 4' 24.96" Longitude -3° 7' 33.2"

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Photo by Philip Davis. All Rights Reserved

Laitude 52° 4' 24.96" Longitude -3° 7' 33.2"

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Photo by Philip Davis. All Rights Reserved

Laitude 52° 4' 24.96" Longitude -3° 7' 33.2"

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Photo by Philip Davis. All Rights Reserved

Laitude 52° 4' 24.96" Longitude -3° 7' 33.2"

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Medieval Wood In Draw Hole Of Gatehouse

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Prerestoration

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Books

  • Scourfield, R. and Haslam, R., 2013, Buildings of Wales: Powys (Pevsner Architectural Guides Yale University Press)
  • Davis, Paul, R., 2011, The Forgotten Castles of Wales (Almeley: Logaston Press) p. 174
  • Goodall, John, 2011, The English Castle 1066-1650 (Yale University Press) p. 413
  • Morgan, Gerald, 2008, Castles in Wales: A Handbook (Talybont: Y Lolfa Cyf.) p. 54-5
  • Salter, Mike, 2001, The Castles of Mid Wales (Malvern) p. 26-7
  • Clarke, K., 2000, The book of Hay (Almeley: Logaston Press) (esp. chapter 1)
  • Pettifer, Adrian, 2000, Welsh Castles, A Guide by Counties (Boydell Press) p. 13-14
  • Remfry, Paul, 1998, Castles of Breconshire (Logaston Press) p. 109-17 (plan)
  • Reid, Alan, 1998, Castles of Wales (John Jones Publishing) p. 91-3
  • Remfry, Paul, 1995, Hay on Wye Castle, 1066 to 1298 (Worcester: SCS)
  • Higham, R. and Barker, P., 1992, Timber Castles (Batsford) p. 184
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 18
  • Fry, P.S., 1980, Castles of the British Isles (David and Charles) p. 358
  • Renn, D.F., 1973 (2 edn.), Norman Castles of Britain (London: John Baker) p. 202
  • Fairs, Geoffrey L., 1972, History of the Hay (Chichester) p. 4-36, 323-6
  • Colvin, H.M., Brown, R.Allen and Taylor, A.J., 1963, The history of the King's Works Vol. 2: the Middle Ages (London: HMSO) p. 671
  • Oman, Charles W.C., 1926, Castles (1978 edn Beetham House: New York) p. 170
  • Armitage, Ella S., 1912, The Early Norman Castles of the British Isles (London) p. 291
  • Lewis, Samual, 1849, A Topographical Dictionary of Wales online copy
  • Buck, Samuel and Nathenial, 1774, Buck’s Antiquities (London) Vol. 2 p. 355

Antiquarian

  • Chandler, John, 1993, John Leland's Itinerary: travels in Tudor England (Sutton Publishing) p. 226
  • Toulmin-Smith, Lucy (ed), 1906, Leland's Itinerary in Wales  (Bell and Sons; London) p. 111 online copy

Journals

  • Will Davies and Neil Guy, 2016, 'CSG Annual Conference - Hereford - April 2016 - Hay Castle' Castle Studies Group Journal Vol. 30 p. 44-56
  • Fforde, Mari., 2015 (Autumn) ‘Saving the Castle in the Town of Books’ Rural Wales (CPRW, Welshpool)
  • Burton, Peter, 2010-11, 'Original castle gates and doors – A Survey' Castle Studies Group Journal Vol. 24 p. 246-59 online copy
  • Hogg, A.H.A. and King, D.J.C., 1967, 'Masonry castles in Wales and the Marches: a list' Archaeologia Cambrensis Vol. 116 p. 71-132
  • King, D.J.C. and Alcock, L., 1969, 'Ringworks in England and Wales' Château Gaillard Vol. 3 p. 90-127
  • Hogg, A.H.A. and King, D.J.C., 1963, 'Early castles in Wales and the Marches: a preliminary list' Archaeologia Cambrensis Vol. 112 p. 77-124
  • King, D.J.C., 1961, ‘The castles of Breconshire’ Brycheiniog Vol. 7 p. 78-9 no. 6 online copy
  • Brown, R, Allen, 1959, 'A List of Castles, 1154–1216' English Historical Review Vol. 74 p. 249-280 (Reprinted in Brown, R. Allen, 1989, Castles, conquest and charters: collected papers (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 90-121) view online copy (subscription required)
  • Taylor, A.J., 1951, 'Report of the 98th Annual Meeting held at Brecon 1951' Archaeologia Cambrensis Vol. 101 p. 170-76
  • 1914, Country Life Vol. 36 p. 422-7

Primary Sources

  • 1888, Ancient charters, royal and private, prior to A.D. 1200 (Pipe Roll Society 10) p. 8
  • Giraldus Cambrensis, c.1183, Description of Wales view online transcription
  • Brut y Tywysogion 1215, 1216, 1231 (Several transcriptions and translations exist the best being Jones, T., 1952, Brut Y Twysogion (University of Wales, History and Law series 11)–based on the Peniarth MS 20 version. There is a flawed translation Williams ab Ithel, John, 1860, Brut Y Twysogion or The Chronicle of the Princes (Rolls Series) online copy)
  • Williams (ab Ithel), John, (ed), 1860, Annales Cambriae (444 – 1288) (London: Longman, Green, Longman, and Roberts)1231, 1264 online copy
  • 'Annales de Margam' in Luard, H.R (ed), 1857, Annales Monastici (Rolls Series 36) Vol. 1 p. 38 online copy
  • Luard, H.R. (ed), 1890, Flores Historiarum (Rolls Series 95) Vol. 2 p. 486, 498-9 online copy
  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1903, Calendar of Patent Rolls Henry III (1225-32) Vol. 2 p. 336, 229 online copy
  • 1906, Calendar of Patent Rolls Henry III (1232-47) Vol. 3 p. 52 online copy
  • Hog, T. (ed), 1845, F. Nicholai Triveti de ordine frat. praedicatorum Annales sex regum Angliae, qui a comitibus andegavensibus originem traxerunt (English Historical Society) p. 254, 261 online copy
  • Bémont, C., 1884, Simon de Montfort Comte de Leicester (Paris) p. 379 (mention in a fragment of of a chronicle of Battle Abbey on the War of the Barons (1258-1265)) online copy
  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1895, Calendar of Close Rolls Edward II (1318-1323) Vol. 3 p. 415 view online copy (subscription required)
  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1905, Calendar of Patent Rolls Henry IV (1401-05) Vol. 2 p. 296 online copy
  • Rickard, John, 2002, The Castle Community. The Personnel of English and Welsh Castles, 1272-1422 (Boydell Press) (lists sources for 1272-1422) p. 105-6
  • E36/150 (Survey of 1521) (calendared in Brewer, J.S. (ed), 1867, Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, of the Reign of Henry VIII Vol. 3 p. 508 No. 1286 online copy)
  • E36/150 (Survey of 1521) The National Archives reference (calendared in Brewer, J.S. (ed), 1867, Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, of the Reign of Henry VIII Vol. 3 p. 508 No. 1286 [online transcription > http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=91063])

Other

  • Davies, Will, 2016, Castle Studies Group Annual Conference 2016 conference guide
  • Munby, J., 2015, Hay Castle, Hay-on-Wye Archaeology and Buildings (Oxford Archaeology)
  • Silvester, R.J. and Dorling, P.J., 1993, Historic settlements in the Brecon Beacons National Park (CPAT report)