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East Orchard Castle

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Norchete Manor

In the community of St Athan.
In the historic county of Glamorgan.
Modern authority of Vale of Glamorgan.
Preserved county of South Glamorgan.

OS Map Grid Reference: ST02896804
Latitude 51.40316° Longitude -3.39769°

East Orchard Castle has been described as a Fortified Manor House but is rejected as such.

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.
This is a Grade 2 listed building protected by law*.


Manorial complex, loosely disposed out two courts over an area, c.75m square. The principal range comprises a hall with 2/3 storey ranges at either end, there are remains also of a kitchen, large barn and other structures, including: chapel (Nprn307687), barn (Nprn37528), dovecote (Nprn37529). The main fabric is thought to be 14th c. with later additions, the house being dismantled from 1756. (Coflein)

On the eastern boundary of the Community and about 1100m east of the Church of St Athan. It stands on the low cliff on the west side of the River Thaw and is approached via the lands of Rock Farm.
Built for domestic use, and probably a hall for the East Orchard retainers but later converted to a barn It is one of the two most complete survivals of the East Orchard great house (see also Dovecote) owned by the Stradlings of St. Donat's Castle from 1411-1756 and was probably built by them in the early C16. The new owners, the Jones of Fonmon Castle (qv Rhoose Community) allowed East Orchard to fall into ruin, but a later owner re-roofed this building as a barn in the C19. It is shown as being in use on the Tithe Map of 1839, but has, however, been disused for many years.
There is no evidence of internal divisions or of a fireplace. C19 seven bay queen strut roof with iron reinforcement on the struts.
Built of coursed, roughly squared local lias limestone rubble pierced by putlog holes, battered base to the walls, corrugated asbestos sheet roof. Long rectangular single storey range aligned north-south which divided the upper and lower courtyards of East Orchard. Opposed doorways of which the east one survives intact. This has a pointed head of chamfered dressings, but the jambs are square and unchamfered. To the north of the doorway is a small square window with another in the north gable and one above it which is recorded in 1869 as having a trefoil head with dressed quoins and openings. Slit vent in the south gable. (Listed Building Report)

Medieval manorial complex including a hall, free-standing chapel, and various farm buildings. Collapse of a partition wall showed surviving later gypsum floor and underlying debris in section. The sealed debris yielded a large crested ridge tile fragment, green window-glass fragments, an ornamented bronze buckle, iron scissors and a few medieval potsherds. (Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust HER)

The monument comprises the remains of medieval manor house. The site is a complex of ruined buildings on an east-facing slope above the small valley of the River Thaw. The main building is set on level ground, with a small rectangular building next to it, and next to that the chapel. Above these is a rectangular barn, and above that is the dovecot. The main building overlooks the river valley. It is built of roughly coursed grey stone, and its walls are c. 0.7m thick and up to 6m high. There is no roof. The north side is in reasonable condition, standing up to 6m high, with a gable end at the east end. There are a number of small square holes, and one high window in the middle. The east side stands c. 6m high, and its stonework is in reasonable condition on the outside. There are a number of small square holes, some window openings, and a blocked doorway at ground level in the middle. On the south side the east side of the gable end is standing, up to a height of 6m. There is then a gap before the wall resumes. At the bottom of the west corner of this side is a large hole in the wall. West of this is a discontinuous low ruined wall, c. 0.5m high, ending at a large tree. The west side of the building is built into the bank, and is c. 1 - 1.5m high. Outside it on the north side is a low wall c. 0.5m high and some large chunks of masonry on the ground. Inside the building, on the ground in the north-east corner is alot of fallen stone. There is a large gap in the wall on the east side here. In places the stonework has lost its facing. There is quite alot of plaster still on the walls, especially at the higher levels. Some fireplaces and chimneys remain in the upper storeys. The east end is divided in two east - west, with doors at both ends. To the south of the main building, at its west end, are the ruins of a rectangular gable-ended building. Its walls stand up to 2m high on the gable ends (north and south) and 0 - 1.5m on the east side, where the wall is leaning out, and has fallen to the inside in places. No wall is left on the west side. The inside is full of fallen stone. South of this building runs a low wall c. 1m high, with two gaps in it, and ruinous at its southern end which abuts onto the chapel. (The inside of this wall is well built, with shaped stones on the top). The chapel is a simple rectangular building. The north wall is mostly 1m high, rising to 2 - 3m at its ends. The middle section has recently fallen, the rubble lying mostly inside the building. The east wall stands up to 4m high, with a large gap in the middle. The south wall stands to a similar height, but is built into the slope on its west side. There is a large gap towards the east end. The west wall is similar, with a 2.5m wide gap in the middle. Inside the chapel the south side is clear, but there is newly fallen stone on the north side. North-west of the chapel, slightly higher up the slope stands a gable-ended rectangular barn. The maximum height of the barn, at the gable ends, is 4m. Above the barn, further west are two small ruined rectangular stone buildings, with walls up to 2m thick. Further north is a small rectangular dovecot, with gable ends on the east and west standing to 4m. There is a small doorway on the south side. (Scheduling Report)

Said to be a possibly fortified manor house of the Berkerolles. King and Spurgeon rejects the site as a castle writing domestic house only. The separate chapel and other buildings were unenclosed so not even a fortified manor although the remains are of strong walls.
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Sources of information, references and further reading
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This record last updated 06/07/2016 17:20:38