Last Photographed: Sunday 11th May 2014
Tretower Court is a medieval manor house dating from the 14th Century. It adjoins the ruins of an earlier castle, which in turn began life as a Norman motte and bailey fortification, built to protect a strategic route through the Black Mountains.
Although the exact construction date isn't known, it can be assumed that it was built in late 11th Century following the Norman push into south Wales. The initial structure is likely to have been timber, with the stone walls added at a later date. Around 1150AD, a shell keep and gatehouse were constructed inside the palisade. By 1230AD, a cylindrical keep had also been added within the shell keep, and the intervening space roofed over. Stone curtain walls were also built around the same time.
Although use of the castle continued into the 15th Century, work had already begun on the adjacent manor by the early 14th century. Despite an on-going requirement for a defensive fortification, it is clear that the Norman nobles were already hankering after more comfortable accommodation.
Tretower saw action on a number of occasions, being seized briefly by the Welsh in 1233AD and 1322AD. Most notably, Tretower came under attack in 1404AD during Owain Glyndwr's uprising. It can be assumed that this attack was fended off from the castle, which was still listed as one of the king's defensible strongholds in 1403AD.
In 1450AD, Tretower fell into the hands of Sir Roger Vaughan. Roger was a man of some wealth, and undertook work to turn the manor into a residence befitting his status. The house appears today much as he left it.
The Vaughan family continued to occupy Tretower until its sale in 1783AD. Following this change of ownership, the property fell into decline. It changed hands a number of times, and its rooms were used on various occasions as residences, stores and barns. By the 20th Century, the structure was in danger of permanent ruin, until in 1930AD it was taken into the hands of the state and restoration work begun.
Today, Tretower sits in a beautifully tranquil location, nestled serenely amongst the Welsh mountains and slightly off the beaten track. The setting is perfect, and the property enjoys a feeling of timelessness, isolated from the intrusion of the modern world. The manor house survives in extremely good condition, despite its lack of interior furnishings. Wooden partitions, galleries, and an assortment of ornate stonework make this a fascinating property to explore, with something to catch the eye at every turn. At the site of the adjacent castle, the shell keep and circular tower survive, along with segments of the medieval curtain wall. The curious juxtaposition of these disparate elements makes Tretower court a unique and rewarding property to visit.