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Weobley Castle

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Leyshanston; castrum de Webbeley

In the community of Llanrhidian Lower.
In the historic county of Glamorgan.
Modern authority of Swansea.
Preserved county of West Glamorgan.

OS Map Grid Reference: SS47829274
Latitude 51.61275° Longitude -4.19931°

Weobley Castle has been described as a certain Fortified Manor House.

There are major building remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.
This is a Grade 1 listed building protected by law*.

Description

The substantial remains of Weobley castle are group around a small, open courtyard, with few indications of serious fortification. There is no firm evidence that suggests that the site was fortified before 1304, though the substantial foundations of the south-west tower have been compared with earlier defensive stone keeps. Building work at Weobley castle commenced in the early fourteenth century, with the earliest buildings constructed being the hall block, the two southern towers and sections of the east curtain. The latter was intended to form the outer walls of the east range. Later, a second phase of building concentrated a more economical approach to building and less defensible. To complete the enclosure of the site, three buildings were constructed; the solar block, the simple gateway on the west, and the chapel to the south, together with a short section of the eastern curtain wall. Chambers were also constructed in the east range. It is most likely that most of the work was done during the tenure of David de la Bere between 1304 and 1327. Although various modifications were subsequently made to the fourteenth century buildings, there were no significant additions to the castle until the late fifteenth century. Weobley was then held by Sir Rhys ap Thomas and it is he who added the porch block to provide an improved entrance to the hall and private quarters. It was this last addition which, in the sixteenth century, was modified for domestic use when the castle had degenerated into a tenant farmhouse. (Coflein–ref. Williams, 1995)

250m north of the minor road from Oldwalls to Landimore, on a scarp overlooking Llandimore Marsh and the Burry Estuary.
Weobley was established in the C14 by the de la Bere family; the two earliest phases of construction have been attributed to David de la Bere, c.1304-1327. The earliest surviving work includes the hall, sections of the east curtain wall, and two southern towers. Beneath the hall is a kitchen and to its north east corner a stairs turret rising to a lookout. To the east side is a much altered set of rooms with large fireplaces at ground and first floor levels, and to the west side a solar above store rooms and an entrance gatehouse. The considerable alterations especially at the west side are taken to be a second early phase, implying a decision to reduce the ambitiousness of the plan. In the late C15 Weobley came into the ownership of Sir Rhys ap Thomas of Dinefwr who improved the house. His work may be taken as a third phase. He improved the entrance to the Great Hall from within the ward by adding a two-storey porch block. The central section of the south range is also attributed to Sir Rhys; this appears to have incorporated a first-floor chapel, but is now ruined. The lordship passed to the Crown under Henry VIII and thence to Sir William Herbert, Earl of Pembroke. The castle fell into decay and has been in official guardianship since 1911.
Weobley castle consists of ranges of buildings surrounding an approximately square ward. The parts to the north perched on the edge of the Llanrhidian scarp survive to nearly their full height except for the loss of the roofs, forming a most impressive mass. The parts to the south side are less well preserved, but at ground level the plan is complete. The buildings are in local limestone, roughly coursed, with dressings of freestone. The roofs of the solar and the porch building leading to the hall have restored under guardianship. The weakly-defensive entrance building on the west side of the ward survives to two storeys, with large equilateral-arched doorways to the outside and to the ward. The inner arch is of rough construction. Above each is a small lancet window and a billet-corbelled parapet. The upper storey of this building would have provided domestic accommodation additional to the adjacent solar. The link to the corner turret to its south is lost.To the north side is the Great Hall with its later porch facing the ward and a later solar to its west above storerooms. The hall is entered at its south east corner, where there is a hole at the side of the doorway for a defensive drawbar. The east window is of mullion and transom type with cinquefoil heads to the top lights and shutter rebates. Segmental arch over deep reveals with moulded arrises. Remains of a similar window in the north side and another lost to form a fireplace, and another to south overlooking the ward. Recess in the west wall for lost dais panelling or tapestry. Pointed doorway with eroded mouldings to the stairs turret. This door appears to have had a label mould. Corbels indicate a roof in four bays. The solar attached to this hall is now re-roofed and used for an exhibition showing the history of the castle and other Gower monuments. This room has a mullion and transom window overlooking the ward, the two main lights and the top light all simply pointed. To the exterior there is only a small lancet. The kitchen beneath the hall has a part-pitched floor with drain depressions. Three low windows to the north, fireplaces to north and east. (The kitchen beneath the hall may have served initially as the hall itself.) The porch building added in the C16 has Tudor four-centred arches to the entrance and a blocked up window beside it, and small square headed lights to the storey above. A passage east from the hall leads to a garderobe at the north side and vaulted semi-cellars at the south, over which are two storeys with a good trefoil-headed lancet facing the ward and two flat-headed Tudor windows. Beyond this block to the east are rooms of two or three storeys, much altered, incorporating a large north fireplace at the north side and at first floor level a large fireplace to north and to east. Trefoil headed lancet windows beside the latter. The rooms to the south side of the ward only survive at undercroft level; excavation here has produced a carved piscina, and the chapel is taken to have been at first floor level. To the east of the castle is a round freestanding early limekiln, evidently used for the original construction work as the first phase masonry appears to overlie it. (Listed Building Report)

Weobley Castle was built on a new site in the early 14th century as the caput of the newly created fee of Weobley, or Leyston. The north side is strongly protected by a steep natural scarp which falls abruptly to wide salt marches fringing the broad Llwchwr estuary. The site is most easily approached from the west, across level ground which shows superficial traces of destroyed ancillary buildings. Internal emphasis on the provision of domestic comfort rather than serious fortification has led to its classification as manor house. There was uncertainty as to its nature even in its original state: in 1389 it was described as a castle ('castrum de Webbeley'), while in 1403 it was refered to as a fortified manor house ('manerium batellattum vocatum Webley'). The castle was thought to have been built in three stages. A circular limekiln, similar to one found at Ogmore Castle dated c1300, is thought to have been built in the late 13th/early 14th century to produce lime for the works of the first stage, while a barn to the south of the castle, now incorporated into a modern farmyard, is thought to belong to the second phase of construction during the late 15th century. A further phase of building occurred in the 16th century. Additionally, in the 18th century the hall-block was converted into a farmhouse: additions and modifications of this period were however cleared away by 1920, except for the corn-drying chamber inserted on the upper floor of the 15th century porch. (Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust HER)
Links to archaeological and architectural databases, mapping and other online resources

Data >
Coflein   County HER       Listing   Historic Wales
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Sources of information, references and further reading
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This record last updated on Saturday, July 26, 2014


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