Penhow Castle, Gwent
6 m E Newport
Set high on a hilltop above the Newport to Chepstow road, Penhow Castle is set within its own grounds beyond the Parish Church, reached by a drive from the main road.
Built as a moated and fortified stone manor house with central courtyard, the castle is in magnificent condition and is still lived in. As it is in private ownership, the castle is best viewed from the chuch which overlooks its grounds.
~ History ~
1129 ~ Sir Roger de St Maur, in return for the task of keeping down the Welsh , providing a quota of men for the guard of Chepstow Castle for his liege lord, is permitted to usurp the manor of Penhow from its native Welsh prince. He builds himself a tower upon a rocky knoll to protect his farmland and to serve as an outlying watchtower to give warning to any Welsh uprising to the Norman lords.
1230's ~ A curtain wall is added to protect the small keep.
1240's ~ The great lordship of Chepstow is in the hands of the powerful Marshal family, Earls of Pembroke.
Sir William de St Maur marries the 3rd daughter of the Earl and enters into an agreement with his mighty brother-in-law, to deprive Morgan ap Howell, the last Welsh prince of Gwent, of his manor located just four miles from Penhow.
The agreement made clear that should Sir William encounter any resistance from the Welsh, he could call upon the full might of Marshal's army. In due course the two of them divide the spoils and plant a vineyard on their newly aquired lands.
1300's ~ A branch of the family move to more peacefull and green pastures in Wiltshire. The family that remain take the name Seymour. By the end of the century the family find itself without a male heir.
1430 ~ Isabella Seymour's husband John Bowles dies. The Bowles adopt the arms of the Seymour family.
1438 ~ Thomas Bowles, John's grandson, leads a small force of men from Penhow to Berwick-upon-Tweed to assist in the siege of this important Scottish border town. For his services, Thomas Bowels is knighted by the Duke of Gloucester and returns to Penhow with a substantial pension. He then marries Maud, daughter of Sir Thomas Morgan of nearby Pencoed Castle. Sir Thomas's son produces an only daughter, Maria, who marries Sir George Somerset, brother of the 2nd earl of Worcester, Lord of Raglan Castle.
A great hall is added to the tower to greatly enlarge the castle.
1674 ~ The castle is bought by Thomas Lewis of St Pierre following the English civil war which had left Penhow undamaged, unlike most castles in South Wales.