Talgarth Tower House
Talgarth Tower House, The Square
This four-storey tower is a survivor from an era of turmoil in the Welsh borders. It is one of only a handful of buildings of its kind in Wales.
It was built as a fortified house, probably to defend the settlement and the strategic crossing point on the river Ennig. It is thought to date from the 13th or 14th century. In the 16th century it was described as “the old prison”. Shops were built onto the tower in the 19th century (at the front) and 20th century, obscuring most of the arrow slits.
The pyramidal roof you can see today was added in the 18th century. Before then, the top of the building featured a defensible parapet, similar to the top of a castle tower. The stairs are built into the thickness of the wall, again like a castle. The sections of masonry which stick out from the tower wall above the front shop are the remnants of a garderobe – a toilet designed to allow the inhabitants to keep the interior free of yucky stuff even if the building was under siege.
The tower’s exterior walls were once covered with render and limewashed. We know this because some of the limewash survives, hidden by the floor of the front shop. The basement, below modern ground level, was once a dungeon with no means of exit except by ladder.
Much of Talgarth was part of the extensive Ashburnham estate from the 17th to the 19th centuries. The tower house was used to collect the estate’s local rents and tithes, which were a form of tax which farmers commonly paid with a share of their produce.
The tower is now a private house. The front shop now houses the Talgarth Information and Resource Centre, established by the Talgarth Trust in 1999. Today the centre is run by a community association.
Postcode: LD3 0DD