PENCOED CASTLE, Llanmartin, Gwent 2009

Notes on PENCOED CASTLE, Llanmartin, Gwent 2009

After visiting Ruperra Castle, a short journey down the M4 to Llanmartin and to the ruins of Pencoed Castle. I had heard it had been re-sold in 2006 and wondered if any progress had been made on its consolidation and restoration. Sadly not.

From memory, my first visit in 1997, very little seemed to have changed at Pencoed Castle. Caravans and other farm machinery no longer littered the front lawn but other than that, it remained, seemingly, ever resilient to time and decay. Of course no building can remain solid without the due care and maintenance. Peering through the windows one could see the make-shift wooden scaffolding; beams holding lintels, timbers holding beams. One such covered metal frame was loose. I entered without effort or force and walked the great halls and dusty stone staircases. Stone fireplaces stood without heat and scaffolding kept the floors above barely intact.

That said, 12 years after my first visit, Pencoed seems to be in an astonishing condition (to my untrained eye) since it has been left empty since the 1950/60's(?).

These days the only occupants of Pencoed Castle are the birds – rooks tending attentively to their demanding young and making such a racket in comparison to the gentle and soft coo-ing of the pigeons. The birds weave in and out of the windows – nearly all smashed and the metal frames twisted – inside stone steps lead up to floorless rooms, dusty but seemingly dry. On the first floor long planks lead from doorway to doorway, the second floor padlocked. Although padlocked, I did not feel the need to venture further. Pencoed, long yet slim, remains a mysterious place – barren within and without, one feels the house has had a long and varied history. Twelve years since my first visit, Pencoed still felt ancient and any ideals of modernization would feel wrong and building against the spiritual grain. Perhaps some houses are better left simply as they are; empty, dry and content.

The gatehouse, surrounding walls, barns and dovecote all crumble, slowly without human interference or indeed need, in ruin. Yet again, an easy thought to have in a brief and distant visit.
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PENCOED CASTLE, Llanmartin, Gwent 2009

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