HAY CASTLE dominates the famous little book town of Hay-on-Wye, a fire-ravaged but stately part-ruin. Currently owned by the HAY CASTLE TRUST, a restoration project for this once-gracious building is underway. I’d started to write my own potted history when it occurred to me that the official one would be (a) more informative and (b) more likely to be accurate. Here it is – click the blue link above for further information about the history and preservation of this important building.
“Hay Castle is one of the great medieval defence structures on the border of England and Wales still standing. Built in the late 12th century by the powerful Norman Lord William de Braose, its history is long and turbulent. The castle was sacked by Llewelyn II, the last prince of Wales, in 1233, and rebuilt by Henry III. Centuries of turmoil followed until the 15th century, when the castle passed into the hands of the Beaufort Estates. Castle House, a Jacobean mansion, was built alongside the tower in 1660.
The remains of the castle include a four-storey keep and a beautiful arched gateway. The multi-gabled Jacobean manor was severely damaged by fire in 1939, and again in 1977. Remnants of the 18th century formal gardens and 19th century terraced gardens can still be seen. Owned by bibliophile Richard Booth since the 1960’s, the site was purchased in 2011 by the Hay Castle Trust.”
The summer Hay Book Festival is one of THE literary events of the year. Less well-known is the Hay Festival Winter Weekend. A Wales-related book published by Mrs Harbour was launched at the Castle, with an author’s talk and a party – followed by (and completely unconnected with) a gig containing copious humourous material of questionable taste by comedian Marcus Brigstocke. Here are a few photographs of the castle.
THE CASTLE FROM THE GARDEN SIDE
A round-arched window dating back to an earlier period of the castle’s history
The only occupied part of the ruined side… a perfect place for birds to nest