Hay Castle

This is one of the last medieval fortresses still standing around the English/Welsh border. Centuries of pummeling, sacking, burning and destroying sufficiently eliminated most other structures.

Hay-on-Wye was unique in that it had two Norman castles. This is the second one. It was built by Maud de Breos in the 12th century and remained in the family until the last member was hanged. After that, the de Bohuns took control. In 1231, a de Bohun son-in-law, Prince Llywelyn, ravaged the town but the castle survived.

The castle was subsequently sacked on and off by the Norman English and the Welsh until 1322, when King Edward I captured Wales. Life finally became a bit more peaceful.

The respite lasted until 1401, when Owain Glyndwr attacked. The castle was badly damaged, but that didn’t stop the Dukes of Buckingham from taking up residence. Ownership changed during the Wars of the Roses, damage was inflicted, repairs were made. In the 1460s, the Welsh captured the castle for the last time. Ah. Peace at last!

In the 1660s, a Jacobean mansion, Castle House, was added to the north side of the castle.

The dungeon was used as the town jail until 1810 when a new facility was built in the center of town. In the 19th century, the mansion served as a vicarage for Hay’s clergy.

Richard Booth, bookseller extraordinaire, bought the castle and mansion in 1961.

Part of the current structure shows evidence of at least four major fires. Today, most of the mansion is an empty, open shell. The usable part is a bookstore.

Hay Castle, Booth, Wales

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