Old Beaupre Castle

Tucked away amid some farmers’ fields in the Vale of Glamorgan in south Wales you’ll find Old Beaupre Castle, a medieval/Elizabethan manor house that’s in remarkably good nick considering it’s been largely abandoned for the past 300 years.

Unbelievably difficult to find, it’s well worth the effort to seek out as it’s the epitome of a hidden gem and one of the area’s best kept secrets.

Old Beaupre Castle dates back to the 1300s, but much of what remains was built in the 16th century when the pile’s owners, the Bassett family, embarked on an extensive renovation, which was completed around 1600.

Old Beaupre castle's inner court

During the English Civil War, the Bassett family backed the soon-to-be ex-king Charles I and were left with major money problems. As their financial situation worsened, the family was forced to sell the castle in 1709 and it soon fell into disrepair. Now a ruin, it’s looked after by Cadw, the Welsh heritage agency.

Old Beaupre Castle

I’d been keen to visit Old Beaupre Castle for a while after stumbling upon it on Cadw’s website and we finally made the effort to seek it out just before Christmas.

After multiple wrong turns trying to find the castle’s ‘car park’, we eventually found the right spot and, having parked the car, set off across a series of fields in search of Old Beaupre. We were soon rewarded with our first glimpse of the intriguing stone manor (above).

Old Beaupre Castle outer court and gatehouse

The castle’s outer court (above) is surrounded by a short wall and the entrance is marked by a stile, complete with a red sign next to it warning of the ‘dangers’ posed by ancient monuments.

Old Beaupre Castle porch

After clambering over the stile and crossing the grass courtyard, we made our way inside the gatehouse where we stopped to take a look at the two rooms leading from it.

There wasn’t much to see in either room, but the room to the right gave us our first glimpse of the castle’s renowned Elizabethan porch (above).

As so few people know about the castle and it’s so well hidden, it receives few visitors and on the day we visited, we found we had the ruin all to ourselves.

The Elizabethan porch at Old Beaupre Castle

The inner courtyard is dominated by the castle’s distinctive and utterly beautiful Elizabethan porch (above). Built in 1600, the decorative porch features the Bassett family’s heraldic crest and motto (“Rather death than dishonour”) and there is, according to Cadw, “nothing else like it in Wales”.

The balcony and staircase in the hall at Old Beaupre Castle

After admiring the porch, I slipped inside the door and found myself in the castle’s hall, which boasts an unusually decorative fireplace, a wooden balcony and a staircase that doesn’t lead anywhere.

Decorative fireplace in the hall at Old Beaupre Castle

After spending a little while admiring the fireplace and exploring the rooms leading off from the hall (above), I ventured down the staircase (below) to the lodgings.

A staircase at Old Beaupre Castle

The lodgings (below) have lots of nooks and crannies to explore, along with narrow passages that lead nowhere, and I had great fun wandering around it, trying to work out how all the passages and rooms fit together.

Old Beaupre Castle lodgings

From the lodgings, I made my way back to the inner courtyard where we popped inside the small cellar beneath the castle’s tower. The cellar was unsurprisingly small and dark, and there wasn’t much to see, although we did spot a bat inside one of the many holes in the walls.

Bricked up windows at Old Beaupre Castle

Venturing back outside, we stopped to take a look at the many bricked up windows (above), which had been blocked to avoid paying the dreaded window tax, a late 17th century tax where houses were taxed according to how many windows they had.

Old Beaupre Castle's gatehouse

By this point, we’d seen almost all there was to see apart from the upper floors of the gatehouse and the ramparts, which we’d been saving until last, so we headed over to the three-storey gatehouse (above).

Walkway in the gatehouse at Old Beaupre Castle

We climbed the staircase to the top, stopping along the way to enjoy the views over the courtyard, and then followed the wooden path (above) to the ramparts.

Old Beaupre Castle's porch, lodgings and inner courtyard

The ramparts didn’t disappoint, boasting superb views over the inner courtyard, and we spent quite a bit of time admiring the scene and taking photos of the castle from different angles (above).

Having now explored every corner of Old Beaupre, we relunctantly bade it farewell and made our way back across the fields to the ‘car park’.

I loved Old Beaupre Castle and was surprised by its many quirky features and just how much there was to see, as I’d been expecting a much smaller, less intriguing ruin. It’s a fascinating, unique manor that’s ripe for exploring, and I’m glad we finally took the time to seek it out.

How to find Old Beaupre Castle

It’s not an exaggeration to say that Old Beaupre Castle is a bit of a nightmare to find. We spent a good 30 minutes driving around some horrifically narrow country lanes before we eventually stumbled upon it thanks to the help of a passing walker.

So on the off-chance you fancy seeking it out for yourselves, here’s how to do it…

Old Beaupre Castle

When you come down the hill from the village of Llanfair heading towards Cowbridge, you’ll find a small stone bridge over a brook. Just beyond the bridge, there’s a gated property to your left – park in the layby opposite (the layby looks more like a wide bend in the road than a proper layby, but this is the ‘car park’ for the castle).

There’s a stile hidden among the bushes next to the layby, which will take you into the adjacent field. You’ll then need to walk across the field and the subsequent one to get to the castle.


Open 10am to 4pm, daily. The castle is free to enter. There are no facilities or attendants on site.

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