Tretower Court and Castle, Powys
Tretower, 10 miles North West of Abergavenny
A40 / A479
Recognised as a strategically important location since Roman times, Tretower was founded as a motte and bailey castle. In the 12th century, a shell-keep was added to the motte. By the early 13th century a tall cylindrical tower was added to the inside of the shell-keep and the space between was roofed over. At this time the earlier bailey wall was walled in stone with towers. The residential buildings were constructed away from the original fortifications forming today's Tretower Court.
Over time the lords of Tretower favoured the more luxurious Court and the castle fell into disuse.
The keep is three stories high with an entrance at the first floor level. Together, this substantial fortified manor house and the ruins of Tretower Castle illustrate quite clearly the changing times and fortunes of medieval life. Situated in a very picturesque valley, beneath the shadow of the Black Mountains, this is an extremely fascinating and evocative site.
~ History ~
1080's - A timber motte and bailey is built by a Norman knight of the Picard family who had assisted Bernard de Neufmarche in his conquest of the Welsh Kingdom of Brycheiniog. A dry ditch 30 feet wide is dug around the motte and a bailey 200 by 150 feet is surrounded by a wooden palisade.
1150 - The castle shell keep is built along with a gatehouse.
1160 - The remaining timber defences of the castle are replaced in stone.
1233 - The castle is taken by Welsh forces but returns to English ownership once the uprising is crushed.
1240 - The castle is rebuilt and repaired, including a round tower within the shell keep.
1322 - The castle is again seized during a Welsh uprising.
1300's - Tretower Court is built to provide more comfortable accomodation.
1403 - The castle is back into English hands.
1404 - Sir James Berkeley successfully withstands an attack by Owain Glyndwr. Not long after the castle passes to Sir Roger Vaughan.
1540 - Roger Vaughan is given Tretower by his half-brother Sir William Herbert and soon begins an extensive program of modernization and new buildings to the Court. He also adds battlements to the wall-walk and gatehouse enclosing the courtyard.
1630 - Further alterations and improvements are made by Charles Vaughan before being handed over to be used as a farm.