Featured image of Upton Castle

The History of Upton Castle

LocationCosheston, Pembrokeshire, Wales (Google Maps)
Open for VisitorsYes
Owned byStephen and Prue Barlow
Official WebsiteUpton Castle
Rooms AvailableYes (Stay, Meetings, Weddings, filming)

Built in the 13th century by the Malefant family, Upton Castle was a part of the line of defences constructed on a strategic site on the banks of the Cleddau estuary. The 35 acres of listed historic gardens surrounding the early 13th-century castle consists of rare trees and shrubs that attract garden lovers in hopes to experience true peace and serenity.

History

Dating back to the 13th Century, Upton Castle was built by one of the barons dependent on the Earldom of Pembroke, a member of the Malefant family. The Malefant family held the castle for nearly 300 years with utmost grace and honour. After the reign of the Malefants, Upton Castle was owned by several generations of the female line, the Bowen and Evans families. The castle then passed through a Malefant heiress to Owen ape Gryffindor, whose descendant in 1564 took the name of Bowen. It remained in the family until Captain John Tasker of the East India Company purchased Upton Castle in the second half of the 18th century. The castle was thereby passed onto Rev. William Evans through marriage.

However, in 1927 the castle was sold to Mr. Stanley Neale. Mr. Neale, as a keen plantsman, undertook the leading landscaping and planting of the gardens to make a magnificent garden that still takes precedence when the castle is mentioned. The work included clearing excessive grass, planting a large variety of exotic trees and shrubs, along building stone terraces.

In 2006, the castle was sold (for the third time in 750 years) by Mr. Stanley Neale’s daughter and her husband (the then owners of the castle), The Reverend Canon Skelton, to Stephen and Prue Barlow. They are undertaking the present restoration work of the castle.

Architecture

Upton Castle is a charming Norman Castle that remains a private family home with 35 acres of historical gardens surrounding the castle in a woodland setting. The castle’s core dates back to the 16th/17th centuries with Victorian remodelling. Some of the original structures, including the castle’s three turrets, still stand today. However, the inhabited part dates from the renovations in the 16th, 17th, and 19th centuries. Nearby, a small medieval chapel, also dating from the 13th century, contains several sculptures. The church is a small and very ancient edifice, supposed to have been built at the same time as the castle, to which it was formerly attached. It was once the parish church for Nash, wherein the grounds of the chapel is a stone preaching cross.

Upton Castle is a medieval fortified house with wings added during various phases of building, four of which can be identified. There are three semi-circular towers at the north front, with the entrance between the central and west towers. A sketch by Norris circa 1800 shows an entrance with two sidelong towers as probably being the oldest part of the castle. The Great Hall is between the two buildings, which retains its 13th-century fireplace.

However, extensive modifications have occurred in the castle since then. The remains of the ancient castle have been incorporated in the building of the present mansion, which consists principally of the entrance gateway and the two circular fortifications by which it was defended; one of these forms a projecting window in one of the apartments. The present seat occupies a charming situation and commands charming and picturesque views of the converging estuaries which unite to form this branch of the haven.

Movie Features

The Lion in Winter (1968)– Upton Castle is featured in the biography directed by Anthony Harvey set in 1183 AD about the life of King Henry II.

Time Team (1994-2016)– The castle is featured in the Episode- Upton Castle, Pembrokeshire (2013) of the documentary series Time Team, directed by Sophie Elwin-Harris, Jeff Morgan, and Sian Price.

Jabberwocky (1977)– Directed by Terry Gilliam, the film includes scenes shot at the castle. The film revolves around a young peasant with no interest in adventure or fortune who is mistaken for the kingdom’s only hope when a horrible monster threatens the countryside.

Me Before You (2016)– Based on the novel by Jojo Moyes and directed by Thea Sharrock, the film is about a girl in a small town who forms an unlikely bond with a recently-paralyzed man she’s taking care of. The film has Emilia Clarke, Sam Claflin, and Janet McTeer in vital roles.


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