Regarded as a strategically important location since Roman times, Tretower Castle was the predecessor to Tretower Court. It is a perfect example of how a building can change from castle stronghold to a domestic residence depending on times of war and peace.
The History of Tretower Castle
Thought to originally thought to be constructed of earth and timber, Tretower Castle was typical of the many motte and bailey castles built at the time of the Norman Conquest of South Wales.
A shell Keep and Gatehouse were constructed on the `motte` (or mound) By the mid 12th century and within the Keep an L-shaped block contained the Hall and Solar.
During the first half of the 13th century, the Great Tower was built inside the original shell Keep, and the wooden fences were replaced by stone curtain walls with round towers. Constructed with three storeys and a basement, the Great Tower could adequately protect Tretower Castle, and a bridge was built between the tower and the curtain wall providing means of communication. Except for the top section, this Great Tower has remained virtually intact, as well as a small section of the parapeted wall-walk.
The first fortification was built by a Norman knight from the Picard family, thought to be John Picard. Six generations of the Picard family were thought to reside at Tretower thereafter, before passing to the Herbert family through marriage.
The castle was taken by the Welsh in 1233, but returned to English ownership. During the uprising in 1322, the Welsh again seized the castle, but once again it returned to the English in 1403.
During 1404, Sir James Berkely successfully withstood an attack by Owain Glyndwr and soon after Tretower was passed to Sir Roger Vaughan, who was the half brother of Sir William Herbert.
Tretower Court which was built in the 14th Century was rebuilt by Sir Roger Vaughan in the 15th Century and it was his son, Sir Thomas Vaughan, who continued to extend the manor in the last quarter of the 15th century. A four storey building between the tower and the shell Keep was added, although the purpose of this is unclear. A popular theory is that it provided lodgings and storage for the garrison occupyingTretower Castle during troubled times when, perhaps, the main part of the castle had deteriorated.
Charles Vaughan is also thought to have modified the courtyard in the early 17th century
Tretower was the Vaughan family residence until 1783, when it was sold to the Parry family before being used as a farm.
The Ghosts of Tretower Castle
The most common reported apparition at the castle is that of a ‘White Lady`, believed to be Sir Roger Vaughan‘s wife.
This `White Lady` has been seen in the main bed chamber, the gallery and also on the battlements. It is not known whether this is the same ghost however as various reports describe her as calm and peaceful, while other regard her as anxious.
The ghost of a small boy has also been witnessed by numerous visitors, sitting by the door of the courtroom, as well as oppressive feelings have been reported in this area too.