Penhow – castle


   The Penhow Castle was erected around 1129 by the Norman knight Sir Roger de St Maur. His family, later known as Seymours, eventually grew to the most prominent in Britain, and Jane Seymour became the third wife of king Henry VIII. In the 16th century, the estate went through a marriage to the Somerset family. Unlike most other castles in Monmouthshire, Penhow survived the English civil war of the 17th century without any damages, and in 1674 it was bought by Thomas Lewis of St Pierre. Probably then the castle was rebuilt into a residence. In 1861, it was bought by the Perry-Herrick family from Leicestershire, and in 1914 by Lord Rhondd. Currently, it is owned by Stephen Weeks, who restored the monument in 1973.


   Penhow was situated on a fairly high hill, with rocky and steep slopes, especially on the north and east sides. The fortifications of the castle drew an irregular polygon, about 28 meters long from north to south and 23 meters from east to west. Among them, the earliest building was a three-story tower house from the beginning of the 13th century, erected on a square plan. Probably it was originally surrounded by a wooden and earth defensive circuit (ringwork) with a gate located on the south side. Archaeological research revealed a moat carved in the rock, separated the castle from the outer ward located in the south. It was about 55 x 70 meters.
   In the 13th / 14th century, the wooden fortifications were rebuilt into a stone defensive wall with a four-sided projection on the south side, flanking the entrance gate. In the second half of the fourteenth century or in the fifteenth century, in the northern part of the courtyard, a two-story building of a representative hall was erected with a kitchen and pantries on the ground floor and the great hall on the first floor. It was used to organize feasts, host guests, organize ceremonies and conduct courts. A spiral staircase in the annex led to it. Hall was heated by a centrally placed fireplace and was connected at the floor level with the tower house.

Current state

   A small castle in Penhow was significantly expanded and rebuilt in the eighteenth century, but thanks to the work carried out in the twentieth century, its original features were emphasized and the original character of the building was restored to some extent. The property is currently privately owned and is not open to the public from the inside.

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Lindsay E., The castles of Wales, London 1998.

Website, Penhow Castle.
Website, Penhow Castle.