Talgarth Tower

Has been described as a Certain Pele Tower, and also as a Certain Urban Defence

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains

NameTalgarth Tower
Alternative Names
Historic CountryBrecknockshire
Modern AuthorityPowys
1974 AuthorityPowys
CommunityTalgarth

Square stone tower. One room on each of 3 floors and basement. Pyramidal roof of low pitch. Surviving gargoyle on back elevation. This structure, set beside bridge (Nprn23763) at centre of Talgarth (Nprn401895), can be interpreted as a 14th century, or later strong tower subsequently incorporated into modern house. (Coflein)

Located at the corner of the Square, at the side of the A479, adjoining the bridge over the River Enig.

Talgarth was a borough from the early C14 and had 73 burgesses in 1309, with grants of market and fairs. The tower house is probably of the C14, so placed as to guard the river crossing and town. It was described by Leland as 'a little prison'. It has C19 extensions on both west and east sides providing shops.

The tower has a fireplace in the SW wall obscured by a C19 carved Jacobean style surround, and in the SE corner, a lobby at the foot of the stair rising in the SE wall thickness is lit by a small window. The stairs are covered with stepped stone slabs, and, facing at the top a garderobe in the NW wall, with a low wall cupboard adjacent. The first floor has two off-centre opposing half-round corbels for a former floor beam. The fireplace is obscured. A second wall stair commences from the window embrasure on the SE wall leading to the top floor with a high ceiling, and opposite the opening The stair continues up to the former parapet walk. On this floor the wall fireplace has a megalithic lintel, 0.7m thick, and there is a second window on the NW side with access from the reveal to another garderobe. Roof structure replaced late C20. The cellar, also accessed by wall stairs, has the remains of a stone built oven on the SW wall, and an opening to the C19 kitchen in the SW extension. It is said locally to have underground passages to Talgarth Church, to Bronllys Castle and, more ambitiously, to Cardiff.

Rubble stonework with stone slate roof, slate to extensions

The tower itself is square in plan, and consists of 3 storeys and cellar, the walls 1.68 thick, originally rising to a defensible parapet, probably machicolated with a paved wall walk. Added to this structure on the E, a 2-storey rubble shop extension with a pitched slate roof; this was initially a lower lean-to, the evidence surviving as a line on the left gable. Two 6-paned sashes over a simple classical C19 pilastered shop front with bracketed cornice decorated with anthemia, and a central double-doored entrance with overlight. On the SW side is a further C19 2-storey and basement lean-to addition, rising directly from the river, with a rubble chimney stack and various C19 windows with brick quoining. Shop front and door to road, and a boarded door from cellar to river bank. The upper part of the medieval tower above the shop has a short chamfered lancet window set off-centre, with the remains of machicolations to the right, and on the SW side a gargoyle. The NW side is largely obscured by the early C20 National Westminster Bank replacing a steep roofed building, but retains a slightly projecting garderobe. The SE elevation of the tower has a small paned window to the top floor, a round-arched window on the intermediate floor, and a blocked doorway on the ground level. The building attached on the SW side conceals a small lancet window on the first floor of the tower. (Listed Building Report)

Gatehouse Comments

Usually described as C14 but Remfry suggests early C13 and Armitage writes C13 and standing on a small motte (No other author supports this suggestion of a motte). The town directly overlook the bridge into the town, Soulsby states 'It was intended to guard the river crossing, and when this function was no longer required it housed the borough prison' Originally a borough, as opposed to private, building and whilst it may have had a defensive function probably operated more as a toll house and strong house for the boroughs money and documents.

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

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 ReferenceSO154337
Latitude51.9957504272461
Longitude-3.23251008987427
Eastings315472
Northings233753
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights Reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights Reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved

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Books

  • Morgan, Gerald, 2008, Castles in Wales: A Handbook (Talybont: Y Lolfa Cyf.) p. 251 (listed as tower house)
  • Salter, Mike, 2001, The Castles of Mid Wales (Malvern) p. 32 (plan)
  • Emery, Anthony, 2000, Greater Medieval Houses Vol. 2 (Cambridge) p. 654-5
  • Pettifer, Adrian, 2000, Welsh Castles, A Guide by Counties (Boydell Press) p. 15
  • Remfry, Paul, 1998, Castles of Breconshire (Logaston Press) p. 171-3
  • Soulsby, Ian, 1983, The Towns of Medieval Wales (Phillimore; Chichester) p. 247-8
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 20
  • Smith, P. 1975, The Houses of the Welsh Countryside (HMSO) p. 136
  • Evans, 1912, Breconshire (Cambridge County Geography, Cambridge) p. 121-2
  • Armitage, Ella, 1912, The Early Norman Castles of the British Isles (London: John Murray) p. 292 online copy
  • Lewis, Samual, 1849, A Topographical Dictionary of Wales online copy

Antiquarian

  • Toulmin-Smith, Lucy (ed), 1906, Leland's Itinerary in Wales  (Bell and Sons; London) p. 108 online copy

Journals

  • Neil Ludlow, 2000, ‘Excavations within medieval Talgarth’ Brycheiniog Vol. 32 p. 11-48 (for context)
  • 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
  • Jones, S.R. and Smith, J.T., 1964, ‘The houses of Breconshire. Part II. The Hay and Talgarth district’ Brycheiniog Vol. 10 p. 69-183 (espec p. 74-5) online copy
  • King, D.J.C., 1961, ‘The castles of Breconshire’ Brycheiniog Vol. 7 p. 83 online copy