How many castles in the Vale of Glamorgan have you discovered yet? There are so many to explore so we've put together a list of some we think you'll like.
From Ogmore Castle, part of a trio of fortresses built to guard Glamorgan against attacks from the Welsh-held west, to Fonmon castle, one of the few medieval castles which is still lived in as a home, to many more!
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Overlooking a picturesque river crossing still marked by a series of ancient steppingstones, Ogmore (along with Coity and Newcastle) is part of a trio of fortresses built to guard Glamorgan against attacks from the Welsh-held west. Beginning as a castle of earth and wood in the early 12th century, it was quickly fortified in stone before being further strengthened with a curtain wall in the early 13th century.
Unusually, the later additions have not obscured the castle’s earliest defensive features, with the banks and ditches built at Ogmore’s birth still clearly visible. Another original feature is the deep ditch around the inner ward, designed to fill with sea water at high tide.
When visiting Ogmore Castle, why not take explore OGMORE BY SEA WALK ’Vale Trail 1’ that takes you through the grounds of this incredible castle in Wales. This route also takes you along the Glamorgan Heritage Coast, designated for its unique geology and wildlife. Above Dunraven Bay, you’ll have one of the best views along the entire Glamorgan Heritage Coast.
St Donats Castle
On selected dates St Donats Castle opens its doors to the public, and what a sight beholds the visitor! Antique ceilings, fireplaces, a moat, battlements, dungeons - in short, over 800 years of history, which also included Celtic kings defying the Romans, ghosts wailing on stormy nights, executed pirates, and even a witch called Mally-y-Nos.
The castle was also a favourite haunt of some Hollywood legends who holidayed there while it was owned by the American millionaire William Randolph Hearst.
Check out Coast and Lighthouse Walk ‘Vale Trail 2’, a breath-taking walk featuring the Wales Coast Path as you explore the spectacular cliffs of the Glamorgan Heritage Coast. Inland, you’ll cross rural farmland and ancient woodlands, and discover historic buildings including St Donats Castle.
St Donats Castle offers a range of events, theatre performances and entertainment throughout the year, including Christmas fayres, community activities and an outdoor cinema! Check out our events page and follow us on social media to stay up to date with events in the Vale!
St Quentins Castle
St Quentins castle was probably built by English nobleman and military commander Gilbert de Clare in the early 14th century, the most notable remnants of this castle are its huge, twin-towered gatehouse and high stretch of curtain wall on the north of the site.
In the centre of what was once a large fortress is an earthen mound with the remains of a thick-walled building on top of it, which may be all that’s left of an earlier keep.
Old Beaupre Castle
Despite the name and its medieval origins, Old Beaupre is really more manor house than castle. Built in two stages, the older part was constructed around 1300 while a major renovation in the 16th century by the Bassett family produced some of its most impressive remaining features. These include the well-preserved three-storeyed gatehouse and striking porch, decorated with columns inspired by the architecture of ancient Greece and bearing the family’s heraldic crest carved in stone.
Designed to demonstrate Bassetts’ wealth and importance, these Tudor symbols of status give a revealing glimpse into how this grand property would have looked in its heyday. Visitors can park in the Car park 250 metres from monument (approx. 3 cars), and have to cross farm land (3 fields), climb over stone stile and two kissing gates. But its worth the effort we promise you!
Did you know, BBCs Journeys End, (set over four days in March 1918 in the WWI trenches on the front line, and starring Sam Claflin) includes scenes shot at Old Beaupre Castle.
Hensol Castle dates back to at least 1419. From its early days to the present, a succession of different owners have altered, improved and added their own individual tastes and designs. Check out the Hensol Castle website for full history of the castle.
Hensol Castle now is home to South Wales' first full scale gin distillery. The distillery is located in the cellar of Hensol Castle where there is a craft spirit distillery, bonded warehouse, gin school and visitor experience. The combination of Hensol Castle which is steeped in history together with the modern vibes and fun nature of small-batch craft gin creates a truly distinctive experience, especially with the odd tipple or two included.
Magical Forest Walk ‘Vale Trail 8’ is a great way to explore Hensol Castle and the best of inland Vale of Glamorgan: rich and colourful landscape, large areas of native forest, pretty villages, and a series of impressive views of the coast, nearby towns and the city of Cardiff.
Visitors to Fonmon Castle and Estate can experience a Dinosaur Experience, reconstructed Medieval Working Farm, Lost Victorian Gardens, Pirate Adventure, an interactive Story Telling Adventure, Fairy Village, Mad Hatter's Garden, Woodland Walks, Children’s Playgrounds, Themed Gardens and a host of On-Site costumed staff.
Fonmon Estate sits on 350 acres and the current owners are committed to enhancing South Wales by providing an interactive, outdoor and fun environment. Visitors can interact in Welsh and English and all staff are keen to impart their wealth of local knowledge.
Although most of the present castle dates from the post-medieval period, the rectangular keep was built c.1200 and is still the core of the castle. In later centuries the castle was enlarged by adding wings to the medieval keep accompanied by stunning Georgian interiors. Originally, the Castle was surrounded by outer defensive works that enclosed about 2.5 acres. As time passed and the need for defence faded, this enclosure was converted into the present flower gardens and fruit and vegetable growing areas. Due to the steep ravine immediately to the East of the Castle, these spaces lie to the North, West and South of the main building. On the East, the Castle is backed by mature woodland mostly planted in the 19th or early20th centuries. As Fonmon Castle is one of the last residential castles of Wales, access to the interiors at all times cannot be guaranteed. However, at certain times of the year, the owners of this beautiful historic building allow visitors to wander and explore some of their highly decorative Georgian rooms.
What remains of Barry Castle is only a fraction of what once stood here, although it was never a castle in the sense of a military stronghold. Built on the site of a former Romano-British farmstead, it was a fortified manor house.
Barry Castle was the home of the de Barry family, who held the manor of Barry under feudal tenure as a sub-manor from their overlords – the de Umfraville family of Penmark. The manor of Barry was held at one knight’s fee, meaning that the resident lord of Barry was obliged to provide his overlord with military service as and when required.
The de Barry family likely acquired the manor of Barry early in the twelfth century. The name de Barry is believed to derive from the name St Baruc, whose chapel on Barry Island was well known and visited by pilgrims.
Many of the Castles of the Vale feature on our Vale Tales App. Offering a unique, digital experience, you can listen to the many and varied stories of the area, narrated by local legend Iolo Morganwg, while exploring and experiencing the beauty of the Vale of Glamorgan.
Uncover the myths and legends ingrained in the heritage of the Vale of Glamorgan with Vale Tales – a GPS triggered storytelling app. There are sad tales, mysterious tales, romantic and historical tales, all brought to you by Iolo Morgannwg, the Welsh master of the tall tale. Many of the stories are based on our castles, so download before you go to hear all about those that lived, and dies in these magnificent locations.