Weobley Castle ruins, Gower

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This fortified Norman manor house was built in medieval times on a ridgetop site overlooking the extensive Llanrhidian saltmarsh. The drawing by John Henry Roberts is shown here courtesy of the National Library of Wales. It shows the castle in 1830, with boats and cattle at the saltmarsh in the distance.

It’s thought that the castle was established by David de la Bere in the early 14th century. Much of the original building survives, including the Great Hall and both towers on the south side. The remnants show that the building was designed as a high-class residence.

Drawing of Weobley Castle in 1830The de la Beres took the precaution of fortifying the building, hence the crenellated wall tops and the watchtower. The castle was attacked in the early 15th century by the forces of rebel leader Owain Glyndŵr.

Weobley Castle was given to Sir Rhys ap Thomas after he supported Henry Tudor in 1485 at the Battle of Bosworth, which resulted in the challenger becoming King Henry VII. Although Sir Rhys mainly lived at Carew Castle, Pembrokeshire, he embarked on major improvements at Weobley Castle including a two-storey porch at the entrance to the Great Hall. His modernisation brought a new decorative style (described today as ‘Tudor’) to the Norman building.

Sir Rhys died in 1525 and his property, including Weobley Castle, passed to his grandson Rhys ap Gruffudd. However, Rhys refused to convert to Protestantism and opposed King Henry VIII’s divorce and marriage to Anne Boleyn (the reason Henry broke with the Roman Catholic Church). Rhys was executed for treason in 1531 and his property was confiscated by the Crown.

The castle later belonged to the Mansel-Talbot family of Penrice Castle. It fell into ruin but was used during the 18th century by Customs officers for temporary storage of valuables, such as brandy, which had been recovered after shipwreck or confiscated from smugglers.

Today the castle is managed by Cadw – follow the link below for visiting details.

Thanks to Richard Morgan, of the Welsh Place-Name Society/Cymdeithas Enwau Lleoedd Cymru, for the footnotes

Postcode: SA3 1HB    View Location Map

Weobley Castle – Cadw website

Website of Gower Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

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Footnotes: About the place-name

Weobley was first recorded as Webbelegha in 1306 and Webley 1318. The name is thought to mean ‘clearing (Old English lēah) of (a man called) Webba’. Local pronunciation is ‘Wibli’.

Weobley (with silent ‘o’) first appears in historical evidence c.1600 but does not become the established form till the 19th century. Spelling has probably been influenced in spelling by Weobley, in Herefordshire, containing a different personal name (Wiobba).

The Welsh form is given as Weble in modern gazetteers but early evidence favours Gwible or Gweble. English names and words with initial w- borrowed into Welsh are often amended to gw- to draw them into line with Welsh mutations.