Barry Castle, Vale of Glamorgan


Walls of the hall

Limited remains of a minor fortified mansion in a residential suburb of Barry; two story gatehouse, and the walls of a hall
Along Park Road on the west side of Barry; CF62 6NW
The ruins of Barry Castle consist of a two storey gatehouse next to the lower walls from a hall block, originally the south range of a larger structure, centred on a square courtyard, which had other rooms along the west and east sides, a tower to the southwest, and a wall to the north. The place was a fortified mansion rather than a true castle, built in the late 1200s as a residence for the de Barry family, from which the town of Barry is named, on the site of an earlier earth and timber fortification. The family also owned Manorbier Castle in Pembrokeshire, and later moved to Ireland, becoming major landowners there.

The gatehouse and hall are a little later than the other, missing sections, dating from the early 14th century, when repairs and modifications were carried out by John de Barry. The castle was inhabited for about another hundred years before being gradually abandoned, though the gatehouse was in use a while longer, as a local court, until 1720. In later years a farmhouse was built close by, but otherwise the surroundings remained rural and undeveloped until early in the 20th century when the town was expanded and new residential streets were built on all sides, so now the austere, grey castle stands as an isolated medieval fragment amidst the red brick suburbia.

The ruin is owned by Cadw, managed as an open access site, though not signposted. Parking is available right in front, along Park Road. All can be seen in just a few minutes. The castle was originally high enough to overlook the Bristol Channel, but the sea views are now obscured by the surrounding houses.

The Ruins

The gatehouse is the main component of the castle, sturdily constructed and still quite impressive. Entry is through a tall, arched doorway into a vaulted passageway, once protected by a portcullis, as shown by grooves down each side; it also had a drawbridge and a moat in front. Above is part of the walls of an upper floor room, the portcullis chamber, probably also used as a chapel, including an arched lancet window directly above the doorway. The rear of the gatehouse opens out to a thick-walled enclosure where features include an arrowslit and a small recess, while the west side adjoins the hall block, the walls of which are just a few inches high at the front but taller at the rear, containing a doorway, an arrowslit and an alcove. This room was essentially a basement; the actual hall was on the first floor. A blocked door once connected with the gatehouse passageway. The only other remnant is a short section of the eastern curtain wall, acting as the boundary with a neighbouring house. A longer section of wall on the east side is much more recent, a relic from when the east range was converted into a barn.