A Senedd plenary debate on 18 October has the potential to change the future of Ruperra Castle and around 600 other nationally important Scheduled Monuments at risk in Wales.
The debate was recommended by the Senedd Petitions Committee after a petition by the Ruperra Castle Preservation Trust attracted over 10,500 signatures, asking for conservation management plans to be made compulsory for scheduled monuments at risk such as Ruperra Castle
Scheduled Monuments are supposed to be protected to preserve archaeology and buildings so that future generations can learn from our past. Scheduling identifies monuments which are of national importance to Wales - having importance not just locally, but for the wider cultural heritage of Wales. They are rare examples, and many have international significance which attract visitors from all over the world.
There are currently 4,229 designated Scheduled Monuments in Wales. Current estimates from Cadw, the Welsh Historic Environment Service, indicate that around 14%-14.5% of these are at risk.
Many monuments are stable, others need managing to slow or avoid the effects of natural deterioration. Cadw’s website suggests owners of Scheduled Monuments may find it useful to draw up a Conservation Management Plan to guide their decisions, but it’s not a requirement.
Scheduled Monument Ruperra Castle, in South East Wales, is an example of the poor management of our historic environment. It is architecturally unique and historically significant as the only pageant Castle in Wales, built for show and not defence. In December 1941 it was gutted by fire and is still a ruin at risk having deteriorated in the intervening years. One of the towers has fallen and without considered intervention it will deteriorate further and soon be lost…
Cadw’s designation description includes: “Ruperra Castle is a rare example of a substantial Jacobean Renaissance mock castle... The monument is of national importance for its potential to enhance our knowledge of post-medieval social, domestic, and political life and architectural design. Notably, the sophistication of Jacobean design at Ruperra was unprecedented at the time in Wales".
Ruperra Castle is also a Grade 2* Listed Building. There are currently 30,093 designated Listed Buildings in Wales. Current estimates from Cadw indicate that between 8%-8.5% of these are “at risk”.
The plenary debate will take place around 16.20 on the 18 October 2023 and can be watched on Senedd TV If you are worried about Scheduled Monuments at risk in Wales please write to your Member of Senedd to encourage them to take part in the debate.
Caerphilly MS Hefin David said: “As Senedd Member for Caerphilly, I know there is a great deal of support locally, as well as nationally, for the campaign to preserve Ruperra Castle for future generations. I agree that making conservation management plans compulsory for scheduled monuments at risk would help to achieve that. This petition, organised and delivered through the hard work of volunteers at Ruperra Castle Preservation Trust, will now be debated on the floor of the Senedd, and this will be a fantastic opportunity to raise the profile of the campaign and its aims with the Welsh Government and more widely.”
Natasha Asghar, Member of the Welsh Parliament for South East Wales, said: “Seeing Ruperra Castle, an incredibly beautiful and historically important monument, in such a state of disrepair broke my heart, and I have to pay tribute to the fantastic Ruperra Castle Preservation Trust for their tireless efforts to save it from complete collapse. Making conservation management plans compulsory would be a great place to start when it comes to protecting important sites like Ruperra Castle and I am incredibly disappointed to see the Minister responsible reject these calls. During the debate, I will be pushing for the Welsh Government to reconsider its position because it’s imperative these historic sites are preserved for future generations.”
Plaid Cymru South Wales East MS Delyth Jewell said: “I would like to pay tribute to the campaigners that want to preserve Ruperra Castle: they have worked so hard to keep this issue in the forefront of people’s minds. The culmination of their campaign has resulted in the Senedd debating this petition. If the Welsh Government, Cadw and other decision makers would make conservation management plans compulsory for historic monuments it would have far reaching consequences for the cultural heritage of Wales, not just Ruperra Castle, and throughout the Caerphilly borough.”
On 11 September we handed in the paper signatures from our petition and met the Senedd Petitions Committee who recommended our petition for a debate. Dawn Bowden, Deputy Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism previously provided a response about our petition to the Senedd Petitions Committee: