• Lucy

Coity Castle (Glamorgan, South Wales)

Updated: Jan 15, 2019

Coity Castle started life in the late 11th Century as a ringwork built Sir Payn "the Demon" de Turberville, one of the legendary Twelve Knights of Glamorgan. According to stories Sir Payn de Tuberville acquired the land on which Coity Castle stands by marrying the daughter (Sybil) of Welsh leader Morgan Gam, thus becoming Lord of Coity.

The original ringwork would have been a circular embankment surrounded by a deep ditch and topped by timber palisades, possibly guarded by a timber gatehouse. In the 12th century (c.1180) Sir Gilbert de Tuberville constructed a stone curtain wall and a three-story stone keep for defensive purposes. He also constructed a north-east tower.

During the 14th Century the castle underwent extensive alterations. A domestic range was attached to the keep by the newly constructed middle gatehouse and new stone vaults replaced the floors – the remains of one of these octagonal piers can still be seen in the ruins of the keep, and also in the photos above. The Inner Bailey was heavily remodeled with a new hall alongside the new domestic range, as well as an elaborate annex on the north-east that even today shows the wealth and comfort inhabitants of the castle expected to live in.

The male line of de Turbervilles died out in the 14th century. In 1384, Sir Lawrence Berkerolles inherited the Lordship of Coity, including the castle, through marriage to one of the de Turberville daughters. It is very probable that Berkerolles was responsible for the above remodeling of the castle. These modifications clearly served a satisfactory defensive purpose, as the castle resisted sieges by the forces of Owain Glyndŵr in 1404 and 1405. However, the castle was badly damaged during these assaults and remained in a poor state of repair until Lawrence's death in 1411.

After Berkerolle’s death the ownership of the castle was disputed between Lady Joan Verney (the daughter of Margaret de Turberville) and William Gamage (who was married to Sarah de Tuberville). Gamage gathered a force together and besieged Joan in the castle. This siege was raised (‘to relinquish an attempt to take a place by besieging it, or to cause the attempt to be relinquished’) by Royal forces who imprisoned Gamage in the Tower of London as a result of his actions.

He was released in 1413 though and ultimately the castle passed to his family who made substantive repairs from the earlier Welsh rebellion. The Gamage family also built a chapel over the hall and a large barn against the south wall of the Outer Bailey as well as converting one of the wall towers into a gatehouse.

In the 16th century the Gamage family remodeled the living quarters, construction including the addition of a storey, new windows, and two chimney stacks.

In 1584 the castle passed into the hands of the Sydney family when Barbara Gamage married Sir Robert Sydney, Earl of Leicester. They made several modifications including the addition of grand windows and additional fireplaces, however Coity was very much a secondary residence and far from their primary home in Kent. Ultimately, with no longer any inhabitants, the castle fell into ruin and by the 18th Century it was totally decayed.

In the present day the ruins are in the care of CADW and free to access most days.

Pictures taken October 2018.

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