Ruperra Castle has played a big part in the history of South East Wales but is currently a ruin at risk of collapse. Help Ruperra Castle Preservation Trust save Ruperra Castle and surrounding buildings and gardens by campaigning to secure them to use for community benefit, and to ensure a better future for our precious local heritage.
Ruperra Castle is a grade 2* listed building in South East Wales, one of the only Pageant Castles in the UK, built for show not defence, a stylish renaissance home built in 1626 by Sir Thomas Morgan, whose main family home was nearby Tredegar House.
The Castle has a colourful history; it has played host to Charles 1st and the military in WWII, been a family home and hunting lodge, and provided employment for local families. The derelict gardens still retain echoes of the past including the remains of a magnificent MacKenzie and Moncur glass house, one of the largest and finest in Wales.
The Castle was gutted by fire in 1941 and now stands as a romantic ruin and a building at risk of collapse. The unique surrounding listed buildings include Stables, Bothy and Generator House, which is home to a rare Greater Horseshoe bat maternity colony.
Ruperra Castle Preservation Trust is working to save this beautiful and nationally important place. We want to operate it as a heritage site for public benefit and not private profit – additionally ensuring a green space between the cities of Cardiff and Newport. We need the help of the Local Authority and the Welsh Government to campaign for a long-term plan for the Castle before it all falls down.
Support us - we want to help the local community enjoy its beauty, history, and importance:
Visit the area, preferably on foot or bicycle. There are some beautiful walks that take in the view of the Castle from Coed Craig Ruperra, including from the Motte which was built on the site of an iron age hill fort, part of the historic landscape that frames Ruperra Castle. NB You can’t visit the Castle as it is privately owned - the Castle, its outbuildings and gardens are dangerous ruins.
We were fortunate to be awarded a grant from the National Lottery to celebrate their 25th anniversary together with a donation from the Cooperative Society Community Fund to help local people during the Covid crisis. We are grateful to both of them as we could make this video about the Trust and our campaign to save Ruperra Castle.
The Ruperra Estate lies near the eastern boundary of Caerphilly in Glamorgan, marked by the Rhymney River which separates it from Newport in Monmouthshire and about two miles north of the M4 Motorway, between Newport and Cardiff. The castle is sheltered from the north by Coed Craig Ruperra.
Henry Skirne, traveller and writer remarked in the 1790s that “the commanding position of Ruperra gives it an air of consequence above all the other seats in this country.”
Ruperra Castle, built in 1626, is an outstanding example of the nostalgia for the mediaeval chivalric past felt by the learned and well travelled classes in the 17th century. However, one of these, the Welshman Inigo Jones, England’s first great architect, was not the designer of Ruperra Castle. His contribution was to design the wooden scenery for the mediaeval pageants and tournaments celebrated at Wilton House.
Given to the Welsh Earls of Pembroke as a reward for supporting Henry VII, Wilton House provided lucrative positions for other Welsh people like Thomas Morgan of Machen, near Caerphilly, who built Ruperra Castle. As steward and controller of the household for the 3rd Earl of Pembroke, Thomas was knighted by James I at Wilton House in 1623. He returned to Machen in 1626 and built Ruperra Castle in a Mediaeval pageant style.
At the entrance, the south porch, said to have been built of Bath stone, presents sculpted Coats of Arms; those of the Stuarts, the House of Pembroke and Sir Thomas’ own, acknowledging his descent from the kings of Deheubarth. The Ruperra Estate became the family home of various branches of the Morgan family until the early 1930s.
In 1645 Charles I stayed at Ruperra for four nights during the English Civil War – the only building ‘fit for a king’ in South Wales.
In 1654 Constantin Huygens the Dutch Ambassador had come for a meeting with Lord Protector Cromwell in London. The Dutch born widow* of Sir Lewis Morgan of Ruperra arranged a visit to the new castle for the 20 year old son of the Dutch ambassador. Lodewijck Huygens reported:
“…Around noon we reached the very beautiful Rhiwperra House. The mansion is square with a round tower on each corner which adds a closet to almost every room. There is a large and lovely hall to the right of the entrance and a number of other fine rooms. There is a very fine garden on the right with very attractive parterres and walks …and another garden with a large number of fruit trees …laid out on the slope of a hill, which one climbs gradually by six or eight steps at a time, upon reaching the highest step, one would never guessed how charming the view is towards the Severn across this very beautiful and fertile valley.”
He then mentioned similar pleasant views over the valleys from the north side of the wooded mound. He noted the many stables behind the house and a park which although not very big had many trees and a hundred deer.
In 1804 Benjamin Malkin the Antiquary travelling from nearby Cefn Mably to Tredegar House in Newport commented:
“The walk from Cefn Mabley to Ruperrah through the meadows is singularly beautiful. From Ruperrah the gardener conducted me across the Park. The prospect was uncommonly attractive. The harvest-moon at the full was just risen. The effect of it shining on the Bristol Channel, with the bold hills of Somersetshire beyond, was in a high degree beautiful. The mountain-valley of Caerphilly, as you come upon the Newport Road, has a powerful effect on the mind, as seen by a bright moonlight.”
Today, by day or by night, Ruperra Castle still has a powerful effect on the mind, even though still in ruins from an accidental fire which gutted it in December 1941 when British troops were stationed there. Read more stories
Make conservation management plans compulsory for scheduled monuments at risk such as Ruperra Castle
Photo by R Kenward (1996)