The first castle in Pencoed was built around the middle of the 13th century. Originally it belonged to the de la Mores family, from which Sir Richard descended, whose “house in Pencoyde” was mentioned in written sources in 1271. Then, in the fourteenth century, the castle belonged to Maurice and Walter de Kemys, and around 1470 the property was in the hands of the Morgan family of Tredegar. It was owned by Morgan ap Jenkin Philip, and later by his son, Sir Thomas Morgan, who fought at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485.
After the end of the War of Roses, a longer period of peace allowed for the reconstruction of the castle into a more comfortable manor. Sir Thomas Morgan did it before 1510, probably after 1495, when he was knighted, which would explain the desire to give his seat a form reminiscent of classic medieval castles, but with a much higher standard of living. The residence was expanded by his grandson, also Sir Thomas, in 1542-1565.
Around 1584 Pencoed became the property of Sir Walter Montagu, husband of granddaughter of Thomas Morgan, Anna. In 1701, the descendants of Montagu sold Pencoed to Mr John Jeffreys. His son, in turn, sold it to Admiral Thomas Mathews of Llandaff in 1749. In later years, the estate was in turn owned by Sir Mark Wood, Sir Robert Salusbury and Thomas Perry, but began to fall into disrepair and was transformed into a farm. At the beginning of the 20th century, small works were undertaken to rebuild the monument, but were never completed.
A simple medieval castle probably consisted of a four-sided perimeter of defensive walls, reinforced with at least one corner tower, and preceded by a ditch. The main residential building of the late-medieval residence was a tower-like house, built of red sandstone in the south-eastern part of the roughly square courtyard, with sides length of about 35 meters.
The entrance to the courtyard was on the west side, since the mid-16th century in a three-story gatehouse with two turrets at the facade. Although the gatehouse was crowned with a parapet set on corbels and a battlement, its defensive function was limited due to the large number of windows. In the ground floor there was a vaulted gate passage, and above it two floors with living rooms. There was a staircase in one of the side turrets, the other was equipped with latrines.
The southern part of the courtyard was closed by a curtain of the wall about 1.6 meters thick, ended in the south-west corner with a cylindrical tower with a diameter of about 5 meters. The tower housed two low rooms connected by stairs and the third floor, originally accessible from the level of the wall-walk in the crown of the defensive wall. The residential buildings on the eastern side of the courtyard had three floors and also a three-story entrance vestibule. Originally there was a kitchen in the northern wing. In the 16th century, a dovecote was built near the castle on the north-eastern side.
The mansion is currently in a state of ruin and urgently expects a new host to renovate it. Given the excellent state of preservation, it can be a great example of a 16th-century building in the form of a transition between a castle and a early modern residence. Currently, the monument is not open to visitors, it is only possible to view it from the outside. The corner tower seems to be the oldest medieval building, it is also possible that some of the walls making up the buildings of the eastern part of the courtyard are of the 14th / 15th century origin.
Davis P.R., Forgotten Castles of Wales and the Marches, Eardisley 2021.
Salter M., The castles of Gwent, Glamorgan & Gower, Malvern 2002.