Ancient Monuments

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Old Beaupre Castle

A Scheduled Monument in Llanfair (Llan-fair), Vale of Glamorgan (Bro Morgannwg)

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Latitude: 51.4392 / 51°26'21"N

Longitude: -3.4286 / 3°25'42"W

OS Eastings: 300803

OS Northings: 172105

OS Grid: ST008721

Mapcode National: GBR HL.NJ9S

Mapcode Global: VH6FG.J390

Entry Name: Old Beaupre Castle

Scheduled Date:

Source: Cadw

Source ID: 177

Cadw Legacy ID: GM001

Schedule Class: Domestic

Category: House (domestic)

Period: Medieval

County: Vale of Glamorgan (Bro Morgannwg)

Community: Llanfair (Llan-fair)

Traditional County: Glamorgan


The monument comprises the remains of medieval manor house which has been modified in the Tudor period.

Old Beaupre is a medieval and then Tudor manor house, built around two courtyards. The medieval part, dating from about AD1300, consisted of a group of buildings loosely arranged around the southernmost, or inner court. In the 16th century an extensive programme of rebuilding was undertaken, started by Sir Rice Mansel, continued by William Bassett and finished by his son Richard. This phase added the northernmost buildings around the middle Court, and included the building of Old Beaupre's most important features, the outer gatehouse and the storeyed porch. These are remarkably well preserved, despite the ruinous state of most of the buildings around them. They demonstrate the Bassett's wealth and pretensions to grandeur, as was doubtless their intention at the time. The heraldic panels and inscriptions on each leave no doubt as to who built them.

From the outside the manor appears tall with few windows; with the exception of the outer gatehouse, it was mainly inward-facing. The visitor enters over a stile into the walled Outer or Fore Court and encounters the three-storeyed outer gatehouse and embattled curtain wall, which were part of the great Tudor rebuilding. The main feature is the arched entrance with its pseudo-classical decorative surround. Over the columns can just be made out the capitals R B (Richard Bassett), C B (Catherine Bassett, his first wife), 1586 and R B. Above the doorway is a heraldic panel which includes (translated) 'better death than dishonour'. The Middle Court within is completely enclosed by a high curtain wall with a wall-walk around the top which was suspended between two parallel walls on the east side. Below this side is a raised terrace which was probably a garden feature. The tall narrow building in the north-east corner is of unknown purpose.

The south range and the tall gabled block to its north-east are the oldest part of the manor. This was originally the northern side of a court to the south, which is now a private garden. The original gatehouse can be made out to the left of the porch where there is a blocked arch with a Tudor window inserted into it. In the Tudor rebuilding this was converted into two rooms. The entrance porch leads straight into the 14th-century hall, now open to the sky. Like the rest of this range it was much altered, particularly with the insertion of bigger windows, in the 16th century, but it retains its magnificent heraldic 14-century fireplace, possibly moved to its present position from the west wall in the Tudor rebuilding. The fine six-light window facing the Inner Court is 16th-Century. At the west end of the court, overlooking the valley, is a garden terrace, probably added in the 16th century.

Along the west side of the Middle Court is a large block which is the earliest part of the Tudor additions, built probably by Sir Rice Mansel in about 1540. It is a three-storey building, now roofless and floorless, which was evidently luxurious living accommodation judging from the large windows, fireplaces and in particular the stairs and privies. The stairs were innovatory - their lower, stone treads survive in a great square stair well with a central pillar, which still stands to its full height. The privies were numerous and were all housed at the north end of the building, with a running water drain which still survives.

The last and architecturally most important feature of Old Beaupre is the great storeyed porch. The contrast between the porch's smooth yellow ashlar stonework and the surrounding rough local stone is stark but misleading; originally all the walls were rendered with the same fake ashlar. The porch is built to a very high standard, and its details, except for the lozenges at the base, are very well preserved. In typical Tudor fashion it combines a number of styles, with its Tudor archway, classical columns and strapwork decoration. The north face is divided into three stages, with pairs of columns, in the classically correct ascending order of Doric, Ionic and Corinthian, flanking the entrance. Above them are a heraldic panel and a blocked window. The panel is another celebration of the Bassett family, and below is an inscription in three small panels which states tha Richard Bassett built this porch in 1600 at the age of 65. The earliest known use of brick in Glamorgan is in the inner facing of the porch, the surface of which is grooved to simulate rustication. Its soft stone has proved too much of a temptation over the years and it is disfigured by graffiti which go back to the 17th century. The chimney to the right of the porch, now lacking its top half, was probably built at the same time. Thereafter Old Beaupre was little altered. After the Civil War the family's fortunes declined, and by the time it was sold at the beginning of the 18th century only part was still habitable.

The monument is of national importance for its potential to enhance our knowledge of medieval and Tudor secular architecture. The monument is a well-preserved example of its type and forms an important element within the wider medieval context. The structure itself may be expected to contain archaeological information in regard to chronology, building techniques and functional detail.

The scheduled area comprises the remains described and areas around them within which related evidence may be expected to survive.

Source: Cadw

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