A lightly fortified manor house, Weobley Castle was built in the early fourteenth century by David de la Bere. The site was attacked and heavily damaged by the forces of Owain Glyndŵr in 1403. Subsequently rebuilt, it later passed into the hands of Sir Rhys ap Thomas, a prominent supporter of the Tudor regime, who updated the property.
Weobley Castle was built by David de la Bere between 1304-27 possibly on the site of an earlier fortification. David was Steward to William de Braose, Lord of Gower and had been granted the lands around Weobley by him. Despite being labelled a castle, it was effectively a fortified manor house. The hall was built first quickly followed by two towers to the south with a courtyard between the two. However, whilst a curtail wall was built to the east, no such provision was made to the west which would have rendered the defences worthless. This is a curious omission for the early structures were certainly built with defence in mind. Soon after though there was a substantial change in the plans for the castle. Buildings and extensions that had clearly been in the original scheme, as evidenced by toothing in the existing structures, were abandoned. Instead a Solar block, Chapel and Gatehouse were constructed to complete the defences but these were built to a much reduced standard from the first buildings on the site. It is likely that the increasingly stable situation in Wales led David to economise on the defences.
In the early years of the fifteenth century a major Welsh rebellion started led by Owain Glyndŵr. He raided the Gower peninsula on multiple occasions between 1403-6 with the Weobley manor being attacked several times. It is possible the then owner of the castle, John de la Bere, was killed in one of the attacks. Although the rebellion was eventually defused by the forces of Henry of Monmouth (later Henry V) by 1410 Weobley Castle was ruinous. Although repaired, the la Bere family ultimately gave up the site and moved to Berkshire.
Later in the fifteenth century the castle came into the possession of Sir Rhys ap Thomas. He was a supporter of Henry Tudor and had fought for him at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485. After his participation in that battle, Rhys was raised to the position of Governor of Wales. He made a number of modifications to Weobley after this time adapting the site to provide the comforts expected of a Tudor-era home.
In 1531 the owner of Weobley was Rhys ap Gruffudd, grandson of Sir Rhys, but he was executed for treason by Henry VIII and his assets seized by the Crown. The King then granted it to Lady Catherine Edgecumbe until her death in 1547 and it then passed to Sir William Herbert. Eventually it was purchased by the Mansel family of Llanrithrid under whose tenure it was abandoned as a residence and allowed to drift into ruin. In 1911 the castles final owner, Emily Talbot, handed it into State care.
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Weobley Castle is found on the Gower peninsula which is classified as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the site certainly gives excellent views over the adjacent marshes and the Loughor Estuary. The castle itself is one of the best preserved fortified manor houses in Britain with the bulk of the structure dating from the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.
Porch. The impressive porch was added by Sir Rhys ap Thomas. in the sixteenth century.
Defences. The early parts of the castle were constructed with defence foremost in mind.