*** UPDATE: As of 2002, I no longer check or maintain this website. I created this site in 1998 on a very young internet using basic HTML knowledge. I intended it to be a site where photos and information on Pencoed Castle could be compiled, since there was next to nothing available on the internet. Since then, there are countless new photos and far better information on this castle and others than I could ever provide. Because some people find the site to be useful, I've chosen to leave the website up and running over the years. If you have any questions, please feel free to e-mail me. ***
Pencoed Castle (pronounced "PEN-coyd") is derived from the Welsh meaning "head (top) of the wood". The castle stands among 370 acres of rolling farmland and countryside. The map below shows the county of Gwent, and the general locaton of the castle may be found in the area under the name "Magor" near the bottom of the county. To see a road map of the area surrounding the castle and how to get to it, click here.
The Castle itself is a fortified Tudor manor house thought to have been built by Sir Thomas Morgan during the first quarter of the 16th Century on the site of a moated Norman castle held in 1270 by Sir Richard de la More and in 1306 by Maurice and Walter de Kemeys. The castle was most likely erected soon after King Henry VII came to the throne. The remains of the outer walls are still intact and can be seen in many of the pictures below. When the castle was built, it is quite possible and likely that the foundations of the aforementioned Norman castle were used in it's construction. The tower still existing at the southwest corner of the courtyard would seem to be of older construction than the other buildings, and is probably one of the towers of the original castle, and the ruined walls and loose stone cluttering the area would seem to add to this theory. The inner portion of the castle is a stone manor house with battlements at the top of the walls. The interior of the castle currently lies in a state of disrepair and is ruined. Nevertheless, the stonework of the castle is beautiful and represents a peaceful period of Welsh affairs.
In 1485 the Battle of Bosworth had ended the Wars of the Roses and in general the Welsh had backed the winning side. It then became possible to construct a large family home without the need for feudal architecture such as loopholes and gun ports. The Morgans, a powerful Monmouthshire family settled at Pencoed for some time. These were the Morgans that had descended from Morgan ap Llywelyn in 1330, the man responsible for the creation of the surname "Morgan". On the map, the location of the nearby Penhow Castle may also be seen, showing that the Morgans did indeed interact and intermarry with residents of Penhow. It is no wonder that they did, because of the close proximity between the two castles. Many of the historical names of that area and period are found within a work of poetry from 1661 entitled "Prosopopoeia Tredegar". It may be described as "A personification of a Morgan patriarch of the acclaimed oldest branch of the Morgan family, that of Tredegar in Monmouthshire, South Wales". This site is currently the only location on the internet where this can be viewed.
Nearby Llanmartin Church once boasted a carefully wrought chapel with carved effigies of an ancient Morgan knight and his wife but a later owner of the manor stripped the lead from the chapel roof and time and decay laid low this memorial. In more recent times, Pencoed was bought by a British admiral who sought seclusion there after a court martial. In 1914 Lord Rhondda purchased the castle and carried out some restoration. After his death in 1918 the work ceased. Recently, a group attempted to buy the castle and it's land to build a large theme park, but the fortunately the plan dissolved and Pencoed was saved from destruction.
Pencoed Castle has been left to itself for most of the twentieth century, but click here to hear about it's brief moment in the spotlight.
(Thanks to www.data-wales.co.uk for much of the information provided. Their tireless work in teaching the world of Welsh culture and exposing the majesty of many great Welsh landmarks including castles is much appreciated).
Photographs copyright © 2002 by Laurie Oliver
Click here for more pictures.
A site with alot of valuable information on Wales and Welsh culture www.data-wales.co.uk
An excellent site on one of the most important landmarks to the Morgan family. This website on the Tredegar House is by far one of the most interesting I have found on the Morgans of that time period. Be sure to check the portraits section. The Tredegar House - Ancestral Home of the Morgan Family
This is probably the best place on the internet to learn Welsh. It is brilliantly done, and has lessons geared for beginners, intermediates, and advanced Welsh speakers alike. With a plethora of audio lessons, it is the number one spot to learn Welsh for free on the web. The BBC's "Catchphrase" Welsh Lessons
This is another great site for those of you who want to learn the Welsh language. Very thorough, so don't expect to get some little site that will tell you how to say "hello". This site will teach you grammar and pronunciation. It's well worth the time. www.cs.brown.edu/fun/welsh/home.html
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