|Location||Fonmon, Barry, Vale of Glamorgan, Wales (Google Map Location)|
|Open for Visitors||Open on weekends|
|Owned by||Nigel Ford and Rebecca Harris|
|Official Website||Fonmon Castle|
|Rooms Available||Rooms not available. Venue available for weddings|
Fonmon Castle is a magnificent 12th century Welsh castle located near the town of Fonmon. The Castle is situated in the picturesque Vale of Glamorgan and is one of the few medieval castles still used as a residence today. Only two families have owned the Fonmon Castle-The St. John family who built it in the early 12th century, and the descendants of Colonel Philip Jones, who acquired it in the mid-17th century. While the original part of Fonmon Castle, which forms its rectangular keep, was constructed around the year 1200, most of the Castle as it currently stands originated in the post-medieval period, between the 13th and 16th centuries. The Castle’s antique architectural beauty can be witnessed in features such as Norman Ring Works, Medieval Farm and Grange, and ornate interiors.
While historical records on Fonmon Castle are limited, it is speculated that the Castle was built by Oliver St. John of Fonmon in the 12th century. He was one of the Twelve Knights of Glamorgan who accompanied Robert Fitzhamon, the Norman conqueror of Glamorgan. Fonmon Castle’s rectangular keep was constructed during this period and made up the Castle’s core.
Fonmon Castle continued to be the residence of the St. John family till the mid-17th century. The Castle sustained some damage during the Civil War, with the St. John family supporting the Parliamentarians’ cause. Following this, the family began facing financial shortcomings and chose to sell the Castle in 1654. Fonmon Castle estate was purchased by Colonel Philip Jones during the English Civil War. Col. Jones was a successor of the previous owner, Sir Brook Boothby, and was a prominent Welsh military leader. He is famous for having held off the Royalist forces’ attack on Swansea during his time as Governor of Swansea. Col. Jones even sat in the House of Commons from 1650 to 1656.
The Estate was neglected during the 19th century, with little renovation work being done. The Castle was passed on to Sir Seymour Boothby in 1917 through marriage and did not change hands till 2019. Fonmon Castle, along with 350 acres of the surviving Estate, was acquired by Nigel Ford and Rebecca Harris in 2019. The new owners decided to use the Castle as a wedding venue. An extensive “Wilding” project has been initiated by the owners of the Estate to preserve the biodiversity of the region.
Fonmon Castle’s rectangular keep, which dates back to the 12th -13th century, forms the core of the Castle. Additions were made between the 13th and 16th centuries, resulting in the creation of a U-shaped building. The Castle is made of locally-sourced limestone and blue lias rubble covered in a grey render. The roofs are made up of mixed slates with lead gutters and dressings. Fonmon Castle’s main building is approximately two or three stories tall and is entirely castellated. In the later centuries, Fonmon Castle was enlarged by the addition of wings to the medieval keep as well as ornate Georgian interiors. Fonmon Castle boasts of a grand drawing room and library with Venetian windows.
Defensive fortifications made of timber were built in Fonmon after the Norman invasion of Wales, with stonework added around the year 1200. The Normans had constructed Ring Ditches with defendable towers and a palisade fence. One of the surviving towers is speculated to be from the medieval period. There are thick walls to the left of the entrance in a manner that closely resembles the 12th-century design. A curtain wall was added to the eastern side of the keep, which leads to a steep ravine. A larger L-shaped building which was constructed to the south and a tower to the southeast originated from this period.
In the 16th century, the short north wing was constructed over a barrel-vaulted semi-basement. To the southwest of Fonmon Castle lies a stable originating from the 18th century with a barn from the late-medieval period. The medieval farm and grange were constructed between 1250 and 1350. Granges were farms that belonged to a monastery, which supplied the monastic communities with food, clothing, and other essentials. There is a watchtower to the south of the Castle with battlements that dates back to the 17th-18th century, made of lime-plastered and roughly coursed limestone rubble.
Frequently Asked Questions
When was Fonmon Castle built?
Fonmon Castle’s rectangular keep, which forms the core of the Castle, was constructed in the 12th century. Additions and remodelling have been made to the Castle between the 13th and 16th centuries. Some parts of the Castle, such as the southern watchtower, were constructed during the 17th-18th century.
Is Fonmon Castle available for booking?
Fonmon Castle does not provide rooms for accommodating visitors. However, the Castle grounds can be booked for weddings.
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