Candleston has existed as a manor since at least the early twelfth century when it formed part of a package of lands granted by Robert Fitzhamon, Baron of Gloucester to one of his followers, Herbert de St Quentin (who established his caput at St Quentin's Castle). At some point thereafter the de Cantelupe family were appointed as tenants (the name Candleston is a corruption of their surname). The family were certainly in place before 1320 when the first written record, the Despenser survey of Glamorgan, attests to the presence of Robert de Cantelupe. It was possibly Robert, or his successor John de Cantelupe, who built the stone castle seen today possibly replacing an earlier earth and timber ringwork fortification.
Candleston Castle was built upon a promontory of land overlooking the Merthyr Mawr sand dunes and it is probable that there was originally a small harbour near the site. It consisted of a D-shaped courtyard enclosed by a substantial curtain wall. A two storey hall range occupied the eastern (landward) side. A tower, consisting of a vault on the ground floor and a solar (private living room) on the level above, were added shortly after on the southern end of the hall.
Candleston passed into the hands of Richard Cradock in 1468 and thereafter to his son, Sir Mathew Cradock. He was later appointed constable of Caerphilly and Kenfig castles as well as a acting as steward of Gower in 1491. Such status led him to commence major upgrades at Candleston Castle with the Hall Range being substantially rebuilt around 1500. Further modifications were made during the seventeenth century when a new range, projecting at right angles from the existing hall, was added. However, by this time the value of the Candleston manor had declined significantly due to the shifting sands dunes having destroyed the worth of its agricultural lands. Accordingly, whilst the castle was maintained, it effectively became a minor residence rarely visited by its wealthy owners. The last occupation of the castle occurred in the early nineteenth century when it was briefly used as a residence by Sir John Nichol whilst work was ongoing on his new mansion house at Merthyr Mawr. When this was completed in 1808 Candleston Castle was sold and used by its new owners as a farm house. It was finally abandoned in the late nineteenth century and allowed to drift into ruin.
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Candleston Castle consists of the remains of the fourteenth century fortified manor house which was probably built on the site of an earlier ringwork fortification. The ruins have been stabilised and are freely accessible to visitors.
Candleston Castle Layout. The castle consisted of a D-shaped courtyard enclosed by a curtain wall with a two storey Hall Range on the eastern side. Shortly after this was constructed, the site was augmented by a tower. During the seventeenth century a new range was built projecting into the courtyard. The last modification was the construction of a stable block in the early nineteenth century.
Eastern Range. The main buildings of the castle were incorporated into the eastern range. The original fourteenth century hall is the in the centre of the picture flanked to the right by the tower and to the left by the seventeenth century range.
Tower. The two storey tower consisted of a vault on the ground floor and a solar (private living room) on the upper level.
Fireplace. The impressive fireplace dates from the rebuilding of the Hall Range around 1500.
Inside the Hall Range.
Candleston Castle was a fortified manor house built in the fourteenth century by the de Cantelupe family. Originally at the heart of an agricultural community, which was linked to the wider world via a small port on the River Ogmore, the value of the manor was decimated by the shifting sand dunes that surrounded the site. The castle itself remained occupied until the nineteenth century.
Candleston Castle can be found to the south-west of Merthyr Mawr. The castle is found adjacent to the car park at the end of Merthyrmawr Road.
Merthyrmawr Road, CF32 0LS