Whatever happened to Dunraven Castle?


Dunraven Castle, a building that I have written extensively about was a castellated manor house that stood on the cliffs of Southerndown, South Wales. It is now nothing more than ruins entwined by beautiful gardens. But what happened? There are various stories including tales of the building being moved stone by stone to America and even that the building was dynamited – these are merely fiction and in this article I hope to delve into the past and reveal the truth!


Historical Background


The Castle of Dunraven was built on the site of an early Iron Age Fort.  It is said to have been a Royal-Roman stronghold during the time of Bran, the son of Lear.  There is record of the Saxons burning the residence of Dunraven during 1050, it is also noted that Rhys ap Tewder destroyed the residence some thirty years later (1080) when it was the home of Iestyn ap Cwrgan, the last native Prince of Glamorgan.

During the time of the Normans ‘Donrevyn’ fell under the Lordship of William de Londres, one of Robert FitzHamon’s Twelve Knights of Glamorgan. In about 1128 the manor and land of Dunraven was awarded to Arnold de Boteler  (the Butler of the Ogmore residence of the de Londres family) after he bravely defended Ogmore Castle against the attack of the Welsh.

The Boteler (Butler) family held Dunraven throughout the 12th , 13th, 14th and 15th centuries until the male line of the Boteler’s died out.  During this time it (15th century) is reported that Owain Glyndwr destroyed the Castle.  Ann, the daughter of Jane and John Boteler  married the soon to be notorious Walter Vaughan thus bringing the estate into the Vaughan family.  During the 1540’s Dunraven is described as a “Manor Place” owned by Walter Vaughan.  In 1642 Sir Richard Vaughan sold the estate to Humphry Wyndham the husband of Jane Carne of Ewenny whose descendants were the Earls  of Dunraven.

In 1803 Mr Thomas Wyndham made alterations to the Manor House as did his grandson Edwin (the son of Countess  Caroline of Dunraven) in 1858! After these works the Manor House attracted the named Dunraven Castle due to its many castellations.

During World War One and World War Two the ‘Castle’ was used as Glamorgan Red Cross County Hospital. (Still in the hands of the Earls of Dunraven)

After the Second World War the Manor House was used as a WTA Guest House.  The property and grounds were rented and run by the W.T.A from the 6th Earl of Dunraven Richard Southwell Windham Robert Wyndham-Quin.  The property was managed by Mr & Mrs Anderson.

What Happened?

During 1960 The Workers Travel Association decided against renewing the lease for the manor house due to rising costs of running the guest house. It was decided by the owners that the property should be sold. Glamorgan County Council were approached but saw no use for the building.  Several parties expressed an interest in the property and the interest of developing it into a caravan site.  In February of 1961 a public enquiry was set up o hear arguments for and against the development of Dunraven Castle.  The plan was to house 800 caravans on the Dunraven Estate, and turn the Castle into an amenities block. The plans for this to go ahead were refused by Glamorgan County Council and local residents. The Dunraven family then decided to sell the property to a consortium who stripped everything that was of value and sale-able 

The building was finally dismantled and bulldozed into the tennis court/gardens.


(Source: Glamorgan Gazette, 1983)

2 comments:

  1. what a sad waste. Love the Ice House and extant gardens however. Still worth a trip.

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  2. Are there any photos of the building still standing in the late sixties / early seventies? I have a very early almost dream-like memory of seeing the house from the car park in the bay when I was a small child and wondering at such an amazing place. Did I really see it?

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