Ruins of Candleston Castle, Merthyr Mawr

Ruins of Candleston Castle, Merthyr Mawr

Here the Wales Coast Path passes close to the remains of Candleston Castle, a fortified manor. The tower is a survivor from the 14th century, when members of the wealthy Cantilupe family lived in the castle.

Major alterations were made in the following centuries, particularly when it was owned by the Herbert family from the 1530s to 1617. Judge and MP Sir John Nicholl bought the nearby Merthyr Mawr estate c.1803 and lived in the castle (as a tenant) until builders had finished his new house, which included a library for his 30,000 books!

In 1822 a “lady” who was living in the castle invited other women to lodge with her – but they had to be “of respectable connections”. Sir John bought the castle and added it to the estate in 1830. The castle was later used as a farmhouse and was uninhabited by the 20th century.

In Victorian times and into the 20th century, territorial soldiers (reservists) practised rifle shooting on a firing range in the dunes west of the castle. In 1903 the Glamorgan Yeomanry held shooting competitions there, with contests for individuals and teams. The winner of the recruits’ prize was disqualified when it emerged that he had previously been a volunteer artilleryman.

The range fell out of use because too many people were visiting the woods, for walks and picnics, for guns to be fired safely. In June 1914, while the range was still in use, Bridgend resident Margaret Bishop was visiting the woods with her husband and children when a stray bullet struck her lower right leg! With the help of X-ray images, medics at Cardiff Infirmary removed the bullet, which had probably ricocheted off a tree.

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