Ruperra Castle

Has been described as a Rejected Masonry Castle

There are major building remains

NameRuperra Castle
Alternative NamesRhiwperra Castle; Ruppera
Historic CountryGlamorgan
Modern AuthorityCaerphilly
1974 AuthorityMid Glamorgan
CommunityRudry

Each front of this cube with rounded corner towers is symmetrical or nearly so. Fire, followed by rebuilding, has obscured much of the original plan which, however, retained the hall and screens passage. The whole house is built on a basement which contains the kitchen and service rooms. The basement became a feature of a large number of late renaissance houses. The surviving detail shows a mixture of late Gothic windows (probably consciously archaic as befitted a mock castle) and early Renaissance Classical detail in the porch and some doorways. (Coflein)

Approximately 2.5km E of Rudry Church, on high ground above Rhymney valley and reached by private drive W of minor road between Michaelston-y-Fedw and Draethen.

Built c1626 by Sir Thomas Morgan, steward to the Earl of Pembroke, and the latest example of the Elizabethan and Jacobean court taste for castellated mansions. Its square plan with towers at the angles was broadly similar to Wollaton Hall in Nottinghamshire (c1580) and Lulworth Castle in Dorset (c1608). Charles I stayed there in 1645 after the Battle of Naseby, when the house was described as one of the few houses fit for a king. Brick was used extensively in the original building, one of the earliest such uses in Glamorgan. In the early C18 Ruperra was sold to the Morgan family of Machen and Tredegar. From 1782 the main residence was Tredegar House, Ruperra Castle being occupied by the heir to the estate. Ruperra Castle was badly damaged by fire in 1785, after which it was remodelled by Thomas Hardwick, when gablets in the S and E elevations were replaced by embattled parapets. The house remained occupied until the early C20. Additions made after 1909 by Commander Courtenay Morgan included porches to the E and W elevations, but by the 1920s the house was used only occasionally. In 1941 troops were billeted there after Dunkirk and the house was gutted by fire in December of the that year, since when it has stood abandoned

Not inspected at time of survey. Said by RCAHM Wales to retain few early features. The hall was situated on the first floor E of the porch, and 2 dressed stone doorways survive at this level and were part of the screens passage. In the lower storey. A kitchen on the N side has a fireplace with moulded jambs and segmental head, and 2 doorways with similar mouldings lead to an inner kitchen and pantry.

A ruined large 3-storey house, roughly square in plan, with 5-bay elevations between round towers at the angles. The walls are roughcast with brick and stone behind, and have embattled parapets. The entrance front is on the S side and has 3-light stepped mullioned windows (decreasing in height in the upper storeys) with hood moulds (forming a continuous string course in the middle storey) and a central 2-storey porch in ashlar. The porch is richly detailed in Bath stone, although the relief work is now eroded. The main doorway is round-headed and flanked by shell-headed niches, and surmounted by shallow strapwork, friezes and cornice. The cornice is carried up to form broken pediments to the L and R over heraldic achievements (the arms of the Earls of Pembroke to the L and the Morgans to the R), beyond which are damaged putti on corbels. Centrally-placed above the cornice is an aedicule with Ionic columns, a broken pediment and acroteria, and a Royal Arms (probably Charles I). In the upper storey is a stepped mullioned window similar to the main wall, and an open balustrade. The towers have 2-light mullioned windows with hood moulds continuing as string courses. The SE tower partly collapsed in 1982. The E and W elevations have similar stepped mullioned windows to the S wall except that there are 2 bays of smaller 2-light windows between the central and outer bays. The E elevation has a porch added c1909. The W elevation has a porch also added c1909 and now overgrown, and windows on 4 storeys, as does the N elevation, which has a central bay of 3-light windows flanked by bays 2 bays of 2-light windows and a basement doorway on its E side. (Listed Building Report)

Gatehouse Comments

Spurgeon writes the castle was built on the site of earlier building but there is no evidence this was fortified.

- 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 ReferenceST219863
Latitude51.5702705383301
Longitude-3.12714004516602
Eastings321980
Northings186310
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink
Copyright Rob Gale and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.
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
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
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights Reserved

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Books

  • Goodall, John, 2011, The English Castle 1066-1650 (Yale University Press) p. 482
  • Morgan, Gerald, 2008, Castles in Wales: A Handbook (Talybont: Y Lolfa Cyf.) p. 255 (listed as C16 house)
  • Cooper, Nicholas, 1999, Houses of the Gentry, 1480-1680 (Yale University Press) p. 14
  • RCAHMW, 1981, An Inventory of the Ancient Monuments in Glamorgan Vol. 4 Part 1: The Greater Houses (London: HMSO) no. 30 p. 262-8

Journals

  • Jones-Jenkind, P., 2012, 'Ruperra Castle' Castle Studies Group Bulletin Vol. 14 p. 2-3 (news on rescue campaign)
  • 2010, 'Ruppera Castle' Castle Studies Group Journal Vol. 23 p. 150 (news report)
  • Spurgeon, C.J. with Roberts, D.J. and Thomas, H.J., 1999, 'Supposed Castles in Glamorgan; A review' Archaeology in Wales Vol. 39 27-40