Shocking figures from Cadw have confirmed that 14-14.5% of nationally important Scheduled Monuments in Wales are “at risk” - please sign a Senedd petition to make conservation management plans for each of them compulsory.
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 Ruperra Castle Preservation Trust is petitioning the Senedd/Welsh Parliament to make Conservation Management Plans compulsory for Scheduled Monuments at risk, to avoid neglect and subsequent loss.
Sign and share the petition before it closes on 18 July 2023 - 10,000 signatures are needed to be considered for a debate in the Senedd.
In January 2023 Caerphilly County Borough Council approved proposals for conversion of outbuildings next to Ruperra Castle into a residential community with no plans for Ruperra Castle, a building of huge historical importance and at risk. Country Life Magazine deemed this missed opportunity a national scandal in an article in February 2023
Find out more about Scheduled Monuments on Cadw's website
As the petition to conserve scheduled monuments at risk nears 3,000 signatures we receive news from one of our members collecting signatures from previous Welsh residents in Australia. Heather Powell was very active in supporting the Trust before she moved to Australia in 2004. She grew up in St Mellons, and later lived in Rudry, becoming one of the early members of the Trust – we love her story:
“Many visitors of all nationalities come to this area, from Perth, three hours away, for a weekend, several times a year, or flying in from other parts of the country. So many I've met have memories of Wales. One German smiled and said, in a thick accent, "Brecon Beacons”. While waiting in a clinic, a lady said to me, her husband's people were from Wales, he said "a little village you wouldn't know", and it was my home, St Mellons!
“Some of the signatories have connections with Wales. Last week, with a friend, having a coffee, we squeezed into a spot, overlooking the ocean, and apologising to my neighbour, we developed a chat. She was Welsh! She came from Machen! She'd gone to Bassaleg School, like me! So Judy 'Hawkins' (maiden name), and her husband came home with me, to have a cup of tea and a civilised talk (and signed our petition).
“Whether the work is 400 hundred years old, (Ruperra in 2026), or 65,000 years, (our first nation people's rock art), it needs protection.
“Caerphilly is blessed, spectacularly with its Norman castle, I think only Windsor is larger and I remember taking our French exchange student into the banqueting hall to enjoy our packed lunch, out of the rain. He was suitably impressed.
“Ruperra, unlike Caerphilly, was built in a modern 17th century style, by Thomas Morgan of Machen, combining brick and masonry, rendered over. I hope readers will seek out the petition below to help save this important building. Thanks to you all – Heather Powell.”
Sign the petition to the Welsh Parliament asking for conservation management for scheduled monuments at risk, like Ruperra Castle.
In January 2023 Caerphilly County Borough Council approved proposals for conversion of outbuildings next to Ruperra Castle into a residential community with no plans for Ruperra Castle, a building of huge historical importance and at risk.
We believe the proposals will impact irreparably on the setting of the scheduled monument and Grade 2* Listed Castle, and its Grade 2 Registered Garden and parkland, and damage, rather than enhance the precious biodiversity of the area.
Country Life Magazine deemed this missed opportunity a national scandal in an article in February 2023.
Athena, Cultural Crusader writes, “Over many decades, Cadw has consistently failed to give Ruperra the support it needs…The financial rewards from the redevelopment of the environs of Ruperra Castle have always been the key to the effective future management of the ruins. Where else is the money going to come from? Now, without any objection from Cadw, that key has been yielded up. Nor was the planning application called in by the minister responsible. Certainly Athena does not regard the future of the castle – in the words of the minister’s letter ‘as a matter not likely to cause substantial controversy beyond the immediate locality’. The abandonment of Ruperra Castle in return for vague promises ought to be a national scandal.”
Read the full Country Life Magazine article online.
Sign a petition to the Welsh Parliament asking for conservation management for scheduled monuments at risk, like Ruperra Castle.
Save our Welsh Heritage
We need your help to reach 10,000 signatures by signing and sharing our petition asking the Welsh Government for protection of our rare and special scheduled monuments to avoid neglect and subsequent loss.
Sign the petition
Our petition has already passed 1,200 signatures, asking for conservation management plans to be made compulsory for scheduled monuments at risk like Ruperra Castle. The 250 signature threshold has been reached which means the Senedd Petitions Committee will review it when it closes in July 2023, and decide what they can do to help take the petition forward. Thank you to everyone that has helped to make this happen. We’d like to reach 10,000 signatures to be considered for a debate in the Senedd chamber. We need all of our supporters that care about Welsh heritage to share the petition so it represents all of Wales.
Scheduled monuments are protected to preserve archaeology and buildings so that future generations can learn from our past. Many monuments are stable, others need managing to slow or avoid the effects of natural deterioration. Cadw’s website suggests owners may find it useful to draw up a Conservation Management Plan (CMP) to guide their decisions, but it’s not a requirement. Welsh Government should make CMPs compulsory for scheduled monuments at risk, to avoid neglect and subsequent loss.
We are grateful for photos to remember what Ruperra looked like in all its glory, but as a minimum we would like to see it prevented from deteriorating any further so future generations can enjoy it. One of the towers has fallen and there are serious cracks in the others...
Sign the petition
Welsh Government decide not to call-in Ruperra planning applications despite a recent biodiversity commitment
Ruperra Castle Preservation Trustees were hugely disappointed that Julie James, Climate Change Minister, has decided not to call-in the Ruperra planning proposals for determination by the Welsh Government. This is despite concern for the future of protected species living on the site, including rare Greater Horseshoe bats whose maternity colony is in Ruperra’s Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). This is also in spite of the Minister’s recent written statement issued in December 2022 to all local authorities in Wales committing Welsh Government to strengthen protection for all SSSIs in Wales.
Caerphilly County Borough Council can now go ahead and issue the decision by the Planning Committee on 28 September 2022 which was supportive of the proposals for conversion of outbuildings next to Ruperra Castle into a residential community with no plans for Ruperra Castle, a building of huge historical importance and at risk. We believe the proposals will impact irreparably on the setting of the scheduled monument and Grade 2* Listed Castle, and its Grade 2 Registered Garden and parkland, and damage, rather than enhance the precious biodiversity of the area.
We are saddened that it is so difficult to protect heritage assets in Wales like Ruperra Castle, the Coal Exchange and many others despite the good intentions set out in Wales’ ground-breaking Wellbeing of Future Generations Act and in the Senedd’s founding principle of sustainability. Welsh people deserve these fine words to be followed by Government action, including better protection of our historic environment. Built in Caerphilly in 1626, Ruperra Castle is significant in Welsh history, and one of only a handful of pageant castles (built for show, not defence) left in the UK. It would be a tragedy if, without necessary repair work, it deteriorates further and is lost forever…
Many eminent historians and archaeologists agree that intervention is long overdue. They include Adam Nicholson, who in his book “The Earls of Paradise” mentions the woeful state of Ruperra Castle, this “great Jacobean house… burnt out and in collapse….” built by Sir Thomas Morgan, steward to the 3rd Earl of Pembroke.
We are petitioning the Senedd to press Welsh Government to require preparation of a conservation management plan for all scheduled monuments at risk, including Ruperra Castle. If you haven’t yet had chance to sign or share the petition, please do so:
Senedd petition: Make conservation management plans compulsory for scheduled monuments at risk such as Ruperra Castle
Sign this petition
Built in Caerphilly, 1626, Ruperra Castle is significant in Welsh history, one of only a handful of Pageant Castles left in the UK. It was home to the Morgan family and played host to Charles I, and the military in WWII. In 1941 it was gutted by fire and it is still a ruin at risk. A scheduled monument and Grade II* listed building, yet it has deteriorated through private ownership. One of the towers has fallen and without considered intervention it will deteriorate further and soon be lost…
Scheduled monuments are protected to preserve archaeology and buildings so that future generations can learn from our past. Many monuments are stable, others need managing to slow or avoid the effects of natural deterioration. Cadw’s website suggests owners may find it useful to draw up a Conservation Management Plan (CMP) to guide their decisions, but it’s not a requirement.
Welsh Government should make CMPs compulsory for scheduled monuments at risk, to avoid neglect and subsequent loss. This includes identifying significance, risks, and opportunities to conserve and improve the monument, so as not to damage what is special and guarantee we pass on what is valued to future generations.
This will ensure monuments at risk like Ruperra Castle aren’t neglected for another 80 years. It will also help alleviate worry about losing significant parts of our precious heritage and aid our wellbeing. The community has been trying to save it for 25 years
Sign this petition
Ruperra site proposals approved
Caerphilly County Borough Council Planning Committee has approved proposals for conversion of outbuildings next to Ruperra Castle into a residential community.
Caerphilly Planners had recommended all four applications be approved subject to a long list of conditions. Despite concern for the future of protected species living on the site, including bats, the Planning Committee voted to approve them on 28 September. Unless Julie James MS, Planning Minister in Welsh Government, decides to call in the applications decision letters approving the applications will be issued by the Council.
It has been three years since the current owners applied to convert two of the outbuildings and change their use to a private residential development with no proposals for the preservation of Ruperra Castle.
A Ruperra Castle Preservation Trust (RCPT) spokesperson said, “We are disappointed that Caerphilly’s Planning Committee has resolved to approve these plans as they will impact irreparably on the setting of the Scheduled Ancient Monument and Grade 2* Listed Castle, and Grade 2 Registered garden and parkland, and do nothing to enhance the biodiversity of the area. A recent Ambio report showed Britain is bottom of the 14 nations for biodiversity, having lost more wildlife than any other G7 country, and been shown to be one of the most nature-depleted countries on the planet. Welsh Government Ministers are now looking at the proposals to decide if the matters raised by them are of national importance and if so, to call in the applications for their own determination.”
Caerphilly Planning Committee will consider proposals for conversion of outbuildings at Ruperra next week
Caerphilly Planners have recommended that controversial planning applications to turn outbuildings next to Ruperra Castle into a residential community be approved at a Planning Committee meeting next Wednesday.
It has been three years since the current owners applied to convert outbuildings and change their use to a private residential development with no proposals for the preservation of Ruperra Castle.
Ruperra Castle is a grade of the Grade 2* Listed Castle and Registered gardens and parkland, currently a ruin at risk of collapse, which has played a big part in the history of South East Wales.
Planners have recommended all four applications be approved subject to a long list of detailed conditions requiring prior approval. The decision will be taken by Caerphilly Councillors at a Planning Committee meeting on 28 September at 17:00.
Read the reports and watch the meeting live
The Ruperra Castle Preservation Trust want to ensure a better future for Ruperra Castle, and the precious listed surrounding buildings and gardens, and are campaigning to secure them to use for community benefit. The Trust believes a structural survey and repair schedule for the Castle and a holistic estate masterplan are needed before any decisions are taken on separate parts of the site.
They object to the current applications submitted in 2019 as:
A Ruperra Castle Preservation Trust spokesperson said “Thank you to the 85 organisations and individuals who objected. We know the community will be disappointed in these recommendations as the proposals would not generate the scale of resources needed to preserve the Castle and do not enhance the biodiversity of the area. The applications are premature in the absence of a comprehensive plan for the whole site. This proposed development conflicts with overarching Caerphilly Local Development Plan policies, comprising inappropriate development within open countryside and in a Special Landscape Area. With up to 36 people living in these apartments it would result in urbanisation of an otherwise rural setting. However, we are full of hope that the Planning Committee will make the right decision and refuse these plans on 28 September, giving the opportunity for a different future for this unique site and our heritage.”
Become a Trustee
We are keen to recruit additional Trustees to ensure effective direction and governance of our activities in line with the Trust’s charitable purposes and to help save Ruperra Castle and surrounding buildings and gardens and ensure a better future for our precious local heritage.
This is an opportunity to share your skills and experience to save important Welsh history and work with a team of experienced, committed and passionate Trustees. Find out more about our current Trustees
Ideally you should be based in South Wales and be able to offer up to 6 hours a month, including attending Trust meetings held on Zoom or in Caerphilly/Cardiff and other related meetings and events. This is a voluntary position and we are looking for Trustees that can bring lots of enthusiasm. Relevant interest and experience in the following areas would be of particular benefit:
Please send an expression of interest with a brief outline of relevant experience to: firstname.lastname@example.org by 7 November 2022. We are happy to have a chat to answer any questions you may have in advance.
Find out more about the Ruperra Castle Preservation Trust
This aerial photo of Ruperra Castle listed outbuildings and gardens makes us so sad. Taken by the Royal Commission on Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales in 2018 it doesn’t give confidence about site management and the impact on archaeology and the environment.
It's now been two and a half years since the owners put in planning applications to convert outbuildings to a private residential development and still no proposals for the preservation of Ruperra Castle. If you care about our local heritage and beautiful places, make sure you object before it is too late!
We object to the current applications as:
Find out more about our objections to development that ignores the plight of Ruperra Castle