GLAMORGAN-L ArchivesArchiver > GLAMORGAN > 1999-07 > 0931257929
From: "Brian Comley" <>
Subject: Re: Dunraven Castle
Date: Tue, 6 Jul 1999 11:45:29 +0100
John Hymers and others interested in Dunraven Castle
As promised. Thanks to "Edward My Son", who scanned the leaflet for me.
"Dunraven Bay is a beautiful cove surrounded by cliffs 150 - 200 feet high.
These cliffs are geologically interesting with horizontal layers of Liassic
limestone and shales overlying the much older Carboniferous limestone.
Powerful earth movements many millions of years ago forced the Carboniferous
layers upwards. These movements are evidenced by folds known as anticlines
anti synclines which are visible in the cliffs at Dunraven. The great age
and structural strength of the Carboniferous rocks result in a greater
resistance to weathering and coastal erosion than the overlying Liassic
layers. Consequently, where Carboniferous limestone occurs it gives rise to
promontories which jut out into the sea. A good example is "Tryn-y-witch"
(more correctly "Trwyn-y-wrach" in Welsh), or "Witches Point", the dominant
headland at Dunraven. The Liassic limestones and shales of the surrounding
cliffs weather far more quickly and rock falls are common along the Heritage
Coast. It is, therefore, advisable not to approach the edge or to sit under
The Castle at Dunraven, which was demolished in 1963, was set in 56 acres of
natural parkland. Recently this area has been opened for public enjoyment
under a special agreement between the present owners, the Trustees of
Dunraven Estate, and the Countryside Commission.
The Castle was destroyed on three previous occasions in it's turbulent
history. Caradoc of Llancarvon records that in 1050 the Saxons crossed the
Severn from Somerset and burned Dunraven Castle, 30 years later Rhys Ap
Tewdr destroyed it, and in the fifteenth century Prince Owain Glyndwr razed
it to the ground. About 1090 the Norman Knight Robert Fitzhamon granted
Dunraven and Ogmore to William de Londres. His son awarded it to his
faithful butler Arnold who had bravely defended it against the Welsh in his
lords absence. Arnold took the name of his office, "Butler", as surname and
his family retained Dunraven for many generations. Two of the family
memorials are found in St. Brides Parish Church. The Three Golden Cups Inn
at Southerndown is a direct link with the Butler coat of arms which shows
golden cups on an azure shield.
In the Early-Sixteenth Century Dunraven passed by marriage to the Vaughan
family who retained it until the Mid Seventeenth Century. During this period
several legends arose, the most famous of which is the story of "The
Wreckers of Dunraven". Walter Vaughan, who played such an unfortunate role
in this story, sold Dunraven to John Wyndham, a Sergeant of Law. The
Wyndhams retained it and in 1810 Caroline, the Heiress of Dunraven, married
Windham Quin who was the MP for County Limerick. The title of "Dunraven" was
assumed by Quin when he was awarded an Earldom in 1822. The family surname
was changed to Wyndham-Quin and the same family has retained the Earldom
In early Tudor times, when Britain had become more settled, castles lost
their strategic importance and were often modified into more comfortable
country residences. By 1542 records refer to the dwelling at Dunraven as an
established Manor House. However, in 1803 it was extensively altered again
and refurbished as a castellated mansion.
Dunraven was occupied on an intermittent basis by the family and in both
World Wars it was used as a military hospital. After the last war it was
leased and used as a holiday guest house but in 1960 it became empty and
fell into disrepair.
Two memorials to Caroline, the first Countess of Dunraven, may be seen
locally. Her own particular symbol has been reproduced in the pillar at the
entrance to Dunraven Park and a headstone marks her resting place in the
graveyard at St. Brides Major Church.
At one time the beautiful park at Dunraven contained a herd of spotted
fallow deer but now only sheep roam freely. The small stream running through
the Park was once occupied by trout and salmon. The impressive stone walls
which surround the gardens are probably contemporary with the early Manor
House and at the North East corner the Ice House, built in the form of a
medieval turret, can still be seen. Ice cut in winter was stored deep in the
ground between layers of straw for use during the summer months. In 1887,
Lord Dunraven added two internal brick walls which divided the gardens and
offered a welcome protection from South Westerly gales. Each part of the
walled garden has its own individual character; one is typically coniferous,
another forms the orchard while the third part is where the greenhouses once
When walking through the grounds of Dunraven Park the numbers of dead and
decaying trees are most striking. This woodland consisted of Beech,
Sycamore, Evergreen Oak and Elm trees which were originally protected by a
ten feet high wattle fence. This fencing and its adjoining scrub vegetation
provided protection for the woodland to grow normally but when the Castle
became empty it was destroyed by vandalism, The trees progressively died
back as a result of full exposure to salt laden winds.
A number of ornamental plants still survive in the grounds from the days
when the Castle had landscaped gardens: Periwinkle, Euonymus, Fuchsia and
Hypericum may all still be found. Some like Baytree and Tamarisk were grown
specifically for use as herbs. There is no shortage of wild flowers, as you
will find on the cliff path to Witches Point where Sea Pink, or Thrift, can
be seen at its best in early July. Higher up, the rocky shelves are covered
with yellow Rock Rose, Forget?me?nots, Thyme and Marjoram. The dead trees
provide food and nesting sites for green woodpeckers and the gardens
themselves provide shelter for smaller birds.
The post near the lodge was erected in 1911 after a jovial party at
Dunraven. Someone suggested a competition to see how far an arrow could be
fired by long bow. The winning shot was fired by Sir Ralph Frankland Payne
Gallway a distance of about 350 yards and the post marks the spot where the
Dunraven is reputed to be haunted by the small, fragile, figure of a woman
in a blue dress known as the "Blue Lady of Dunraven". She appeared
frequently when the house was used as a convalescent hospital in the Great
War, always leaving a strong scent of mimosa. A housekeeper of the Castle
claimed that "it was a lovely spirit and nothing to be afraid of." If you
catch a glimpse of the Blue Lady wandering through the ruins of the Castle
try and remember those words!
The meaning of the word "Dunraven" is uncertain. Some claim it derived from
a windhole which extends 77 yards under the rock. Here sea and wind
movements sometimes create an uncanny wailing sound, hence the name "Dwyndr
Havren" - the "complaints of the Severn", modified eventually to Dunraven.
Welsh historians spoke of Dunraven as "Dyndryvan" - the "triangular
fortress." The Iron Age fortress here was rendered impregnable from the
precipitous cliffs, while the landside was defended by a triple line of
earthworks, the grass overgrown outline of which can still be seen today.
According to Welsh tradition, the Celtic chieftain Caractacus dwelled at
Dunraven. It was a strong defensive site in a fairly central location in his
territory and in a superb position to repulse coastal invasions. Caractacus
withstood the Roman armies for nearly 9 years with his fierce warriors who
stained their bodies with a blue dye called woad. In A.D. 90 he led his army
against the Roman governor Ostorious but was defeated, captured, and taken
to Italy. Tradition has it that the Roman emperor Claudius was so impressed
with his eloquence that he granted Caractacus the freedom of Rome".
Being new to Glamorgan-L I don't know whether I should post this as its a
bit long. What do you think?
Brian Beeche Comley
Porthcawl, Glamorgan (South Wales - U.K.)
Researching: BEECH; CARTER; CLARE; COMLEY; HOLMAN; PRICE;. REDDY; THOMAS;
----- Original Message -----
From: John Hymers <>
Sent: 01 July 1999 02:39
Subject: Re: Dunraven Castle
> Brian, I would certainly appreciate a scanned copy of this brochure.