Old Beaupre Castle

Has been described as a Possible Fortified Manor House

There are major building remains

NameOld Beaupre Castle
Alternative NamesBewpyr; Beawpire; Y Bewpur; Bewerpere
Historic CountryGlamorgan
Modern AuthorityVale of Glamorgan
1974 AuthoritySouth Glamorgan
CommunityLlanfair

The C16-C17 mansion is arranged about three courts, covering an area c.100m N-S by 25-56m. The main N-S axis of approach is marked by the gatehouse, between the outer and middle courts and focussed on the porch, on the S side of the middle court. Original fabric thought to be c.1300, house descended to farmhouse, c.1709 (Coflein)

Located approximately 2km SW of St Hilary on the E bank of the river Thaw, set on a platformed site, with pedestrian access from St Hilary to St Mary Church road to NW, opposite Howe Mill Farm.

Substantial fortified manor house dating from the C14 to the early C17, now primarily a roofless ruin in State guardianship. The Bassett family occupied the site from the first recorded references in 1262. During the occupancy of Sir Rice Mansel during the C16 the house was extended and developed; the outer gatehouse, the enclosure of the middle court and the later storeyed porch to the central range were erected in 1586 and 1600 respectively. In the C17 the Bassett family abandoned Beaupre in favour of the smaller nearby Fishweir. However, there is evidence of partial habitation during the early C18 with blocked fireplaces and windows in attempts at tax avoidance. The manor was sold in 1709. The building became progressively ruinous with only the SE block continuing to be inhabited as a farmhouse to the present day (separately listed). The history of the house is fully documented in the RCAHMW Inventory.

Largely ruinous with some fireplaces and staircases surviving, particularly in the outer gatehouse and the SE wing. Of particular note is the use of complexly moulded door surrounds with hourglass and thistle stops which are unusual within the Vale. A small fragment of decorative plasterwork survives within the roofed section of the SE range depicting a large Tudor rose and lion rampant. The substantial Great Hall fireplace remains in the S range with armorial shields carved upon the lintol

Full details of the interior and exterior are documented within the RCAHMW Inventory.

Constructed of coursed lias limestone rubble with dressings variously of Sutton stone and Bathstone. Roofless and largely floorless. Primarily of three phases of construction . Approached from the NW via an outer court enclosed by low rubble walls; the formerly crenellated gatehouse and curtain wall now ruinous enclose the Middle Court dating from c1586. The gatehouse is of two and a half storeys with dressed four-centred stone doorway and with flanking fluted Ionic pilasters with Bassett coat of arms above flanked by balusters with the initials "R.B,C.B/1586/RB" and the motto: "Gwell angay na chwilydd" (Better death than dishonour). Above are two three-light, square-headed mullioned windows with fragments of a centrally placed, smaller, three-light window above. The S side of the Middle Court is unfenestrated and links the gatehouse to the main hall range to the S and E. On the W side of the Middle Court is a three storey range dating from c1540, having three stacked, four-light mullioned windows, centrally placed on the courtyard elevation. On the S side of these windows is a former grand stairwell which gave access to the Great Chamber on the S and a further large chamber to the N. The S wing is a tall two storey range entered by a magnificent full-height, three-storeyed, late Renaissance porch inscribed with the date 1600, comparable to the frontispiece of other Elizabethan/Jacobean Prodigy Houses eg Kirby Hall, Northants. Flanked by a pair of fluted pilasters standing on plinths of diminishing scale with corresponding Doric capitals to ground, Ionic capitals to first and Corinthian to second floor. At first floor level the Bassett coat of arms with family motto and inscription to Richard Bassett commemorating the construction of the porch in 1600 is surmounted by scrolled and pierced strapwork, set between the pilasters. The ground floor has a four-centred doorway with arabesques to the spandrels, the columns to either side sit on plinths formerly with raised lozenges to the faces. The entablature has alternating paterae and bucrania set within the metopes. The second floor has an eight-light mullion and transom window with strapwork pediment above with engaged pilasters enriched with strapwork and modillion cornice with finial above. Side-lights at first and second floor levels. The S range is four bays wide, floorless and roofless, except for a modern floor at E end. Lit on the N side by two 3-light, square-headed mullioned windows at E end, placed above each other. Lit on the S elevation of the projecting wing at the E end by a three-light, square-headed window with doorway to the E connecting the high level walkway and this wing. Above a corbel table is a two-light window in the gable. The S elevation of the W range is four storeys high and roofless, with six pairs of two-light windows above a narrow four-centred doorway at the N end and in the centre three sets of four-light windows with a wide four-centred doorway at ground floor level. and two, square-headed stairlights at the far N end. The S elevation of the S range is three storeys and roofless and has some surviving mullioned windows at the E end while those at the N end have been lost and the openings left empty. (Listed Building Report)

Old Beaupre is the name of the farmhouse and associated buildings in current use, converted from a wing of Old Beaupre Castle. The earliest surviving structures from the original house date to the early-14th century and are associated with the Basset family whose possession of the site may have derived from the marriage of John Basset to an heiress of the de Kardiffs, a family that had held land in St Hilary from the 12th century. The house was modified and added to in the 16th century in several stages to create a residence on an impressive scale which still retains much of its dressed-stone detail. The Bassets largely continued ownership of the site until its sale in 1709, after which there were several changes of ownership during which time the site, apart from the one wing occupied as the farmhouse, became ruinous. (Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust HER)

Medieval manor house, modified during the Tudor period, including a magnificently carved Renaissance porch. (CADW)

Gatehouse Comments

King rejects as a castle, writing it is non military. However the original medieval house, loosely arranged around the south court, was strongly built.

- 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 ReferenceST008720
Latitude51.4387588500977
Longitude-3.4273099899292
Eastings300890
Northings172030
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Copyright Philip Blayney All Rights Reserved
Copyright Philip Blayney All Rights Reserved
Copyright Philip Blayney All Rights Reserved
Copyright Philip Blayney All Rights Reserved
Copyright Philip Blayney All Rights Reserved
Copyright Philip Blayney All Rights Reserved
Copyright Philip Blayney All Rights Reserved
Copyright Philip Blayney All Rights Reserved
Copyright Philip Blayney All Rights Reserved
Copyright Philip Blayney All Rights Reserved
Copyright Philip Blayney All Rights Reserved
Copyright Philip Blayney All Rights Reserved
Copyright Philip Blayney All Rights Reserved

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Books

  • Morgan, Gerald, 2008, Castles in Wales: A Handbook (Talybont: Y Lolfa Cyf.) p. 254 (listed as manor house)
  • Emery, Anthony, 2000, Greater Medieval Houses Vol. 2 (Cambridge) p. 652-3
  • Pettifer, Adrian, 2000, Welsh Castles, A Guide by Counties (Boydell Press) p. 82
  • Reid, Alan, 1998, Castles of Wales (John Jones Publishing) p. 29-31
  • Salter, Mike, 1991, The Castles of Gwent, Glamorgan and Gower (Malvern) p. 39
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 174 (reject)
  • RCAHMW, 1981, An Inventory of the Ancient Monuments in Glamorgan Vol. 4 Part 1: The Greater Houses (London: HMSO) no. 1 p. 46-63
  • Davis, Paul R., 1983, Castles of Glamorgan (Alun Books) p. 36-7
  • Fry, P.S., 1980, Castles of the British Isles (David and Charles) p. 369-70
  • Hague, D.B., 1971, in Pugh, T.B. (ed), Glamorgan County History Vol. 3 The Middle Ages (Cardiff) p. 437

Journals

  • Spurgeon, C.J. and Thomas, H.J., 1978, 'Medieval Glamorgan' Morgannwg Vol. 22 p. 24 online copy

Guide Books

  • Hauge, D.B., 1973, Old Beaupre Castle, Glamorgan
  • Hauge, D.B., 1965, Old Beaupre Castle, Glamorgan