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Roch Castle

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Roche; Castle de Rupe

In the community of Nolton and Roch.
In the historic county of Pembrokeshire.
Modern authority of Pembrokeshire.
Preserved county of Dyfed.

OS Map Grid Reference: SM88032121
Latitude 51.84913° Longitude -5.07895°

Roch Castle has been described as a certain Masonry Castle.

There are major building remains.

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


Roch Castle was first built circa 1200 by Adam de Rupe or de la Roche, founder of Pill Priory, Milford. The present castle has been dated by G.T. Clark to circa 1270. Though built for defence, it appears to have been adapted to habitation with freestone windows and fireplaces. The de la Roche estates were broken up in the fifteenth century and the castle was then ruinous. It was garrisoned for the royal cause during the Civil War and besieged in 1644. From 1901-4 it was restored and made habitable for Sir J. Wynford Philipps Bt of Picton, later Viscount St Davids, to the designs of D.E. Thomas of Haverfordwest. Further works were carried out in 1910 and circa 1918-20, the latter by D.F. Ingleton. The castle has a 'D' shaped plan and is a tall single structure with projecting chambers and stands on an isolated rock outcrop surrounded by a mosted enclosure. (Coflein)

Roch Castle was built in the thirteenth century by Adam de Rupe, founder of Pill Priory. It is a fortified tower, with a bailey. The 1st edition Ordnance Survey map shows the small settlement of Roch to the south-east of the bailey. In 1922 the castle was described as being sited "on an isolated rock with extensive views", and a view of the castle by Fenton, c1811, illustrates this very well. Today the castle is less isolated, as the settlement has expanded considerably to the north and west. (Dyfed Archaeological Trust HER)

Situated in centre of Roch village, on a rocky knoll visible from considerable distances.
Castle, or single peel-tower, first built c1200 by Adam de Rupe or de la Roche, founder of Pill Priory, Milford. The present castle has been dated by G.T. Clark to c1270. Though built for defence, it appears to have been adapted to habitation with freestone windows and fireplaces. The de la Roche estates were broken up in the C15, and the castle was then ruinous. Garrisoned for the royal cause during the Civil War and besieged in 1644. From 1901-4 restored and made habitable for Sir J. Wynford Philipps Bt of Picton, later Viscount St Davids, to designs of D.E. Thomas of Haverfordwest. Further works carried out in 1910 and c1918-20, the latter by D.F. Ingleton. G.T. Clark in 1865 found a lower floor possibly a barrack with straight stair past a garderobe to the front door and chapel. The main room was in the square part with large openings to N, E and W. Smaller room to S and then the oratory, a small vaulted chamber 3.2metres x 2.1 metres, occupying the projection from the S face of the tower. Each floor had a fireplace. The door had no portcullis but was raised, perhaps reached by a wooden stair originally.
Castle, rubble stone with some ashlar for early C20 window dressings. Tall single structure of rough D-plan, actually square to N with battlement angle turrets at NE and NW, but at SW curved round to a projecting square taller S tower, and then diagonal SE side linking back to square N end. Earlier C20 service range added to rear N. Sheer three-storey castle with corbelled battlements. C20 flush stone mullioned windows with hoodmoulds and gunmetal casements. Projecting centre S tower is raised up on a spur of rock and rises sheer to battlements, without corbelling. 2-light mullioned window on each of 3 floors to S, and W side loop two small rectangular windows to successive floors. Chimney on rear N side. E side has 2-light mullion window each floor. Main W front has SW quadrant curve with deep corbelled embattled parapet stopped at two wall-face chimneys. Then NW square section has short length of lower parapet stepped up again at NE octagonal angle turret. Corbelling is continuous, except slight step down at NW turret. Curved part has two small windows in parapet, and just one roughly central 2-light mullion window facing SE. Straight piece to left has different floor levels to curved part: one 2-light mullion-and-transom window to ground floor, 3-light mullioned window above, and then a smaller 3-light similar window above, all with hoodmoulds. A single blank opening in parapet above. Main E side has SE part splayed not curved from S projection. Parapet steps down considerably to junction with lower square NE block. Splayed part has one large C20 plate-traceried 2-light pointed window to ground floor, and section of corbelled walling above and to right. An ivy-clad projection returns N to join with flat NE block. Some projecting stones suggest that a curtain wall was intended to run E. NE part has embattled parapet stepped up to octagonal NE corner turret, corbelling stepped down under turret. E side C20 door and 3-light mullioned window above. N side has similar corbelling and battlements between octagonal NW and NE turrets. One first floor 2-light window, the rest obscured by service range. Early C20 N service range is square, much lower than castle tower, but due to falling ground a full 3 storeys to N, actually a full-height basement and two storeys. Flat corbelled parapets and flat corner turrets slightly raised, echoing castle. W front has outside steps to eroded sandstone ashlar Tudor-arched door with hoodmould to ground floor floor right. 3-light mullion window to ground floor centre and similar, smaller window above. 2-light window to basement left and single light each floor above. N front has basement garage doors and 3-light window to right, similar 3-light to centre of each floor above, each with single-light to right. E side has varied windows, mostly narrow single lights. (Listed Building Report)

Castle was founded in the 2nd half of C13, although the lordship de Rupe (rock) can be traced back to about 1200. An earlier fortress may have existed here, but the prominent D-shaped tower on this isolated rocky outcrop is thought to have been built by Adam de Rupe. (Reid)

Underwent considerable restoration in C20 and now inhabited. The tower stands upon an isolated igneous outcrop within a sub-circular, moated enclosure, c.80m in diameter, with an possible second enclosure, 70m by 60m, to the N.
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Sources of information, references and further reading
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This record last updated 13/04/2017 17:08:41