History, tourist information, and nearby accommodation
HERITAGE HIGHLIGHTS: Birthplace of Gerald of Wales (Geraldus Cambrensis)
Odo built a fortress of timber and earth to control his new territory. That timber fortress was gradually replaced by a stone structure by his son, William.
The most impressive part of the inner ward is the domestic range, with a Great Hall built shortly after 1140. Unlike many Welsh castles, the hall keep was not a separate structure, but was built into the curtain wall. Next to the hall, along the south wall of the castle's inner ward, wee the buttery and pantry, kitchens, and ovens. Over the buttery you can see what remains of the solar, or family quarters. Facing the inner ward is a dovecote, with nesting boxes for hundreds of pigeons.
Odo's fourth son, Gerald, was born at the rudimentary castle in 1146, and grew to become one of the most famous scholars and writers of the medieval world. Known to history as Geraldus Cambrensis (Gerald of Wales), he wrote historical chronicles and descriptions of medieval life that together make up some of our best sources on the medieval history of Wales and the medieval church. Gerald was related on his mother's side to Princess Nest, the 'Helen of Wales'.
In 1327 Richard de Barri attacked his own castle during a family squabble over inheritance of the estate.
Manorbier's decline accelerated during the Civil War period. The Bowens family supported the Royalist cause, and Parliamentary troops attacked and captured the castle. The did not want Manorbier to be held against them in future so the castle was 'slighted'; damaged so that it would be of no practical military value.
It was Cobb who reversed the decay and neglect of centuries by beginning to restore the castle. He laid out wonderful picturesque gardens in the inner ward, and restored the chapel, gatehouse, and round tower to useable state. Other than the castle itself there is alsop a restored mill and dovecote.
One of the most interesting features are the huge hearths set against the south and west walls. The hearths rise to ornate Flemish chimney stacks. The hearths wee probably not used for preparing food, but for forging metal.
The location is one of the most appealing features of Manorbier. The castle occupies a fantastically scenic position overlooking a sheltered beach, with fabulous coastal views. The location was one of the reasons Manorbier was chosen to represent Cair Paravel in the BBC television version of CS Lewis' classic, 'The Chronicles of Narnia' (not the 2005 film version).
On a rise facing the castle is the striking medieval parish church of St James, well worth the short walk to explore. You can also make out the remains of the castle's medieval fishponds.
Manorbier Castle is open daily. It is without doubt one of the most enjoyable Welsh castles I've had the pleasure of visiting. The location is superb, and the combination of the restored medieval rooms and the castle gardens make it an unforgettable pace to visit. It baffles me why Manorbier is not better known, but I highly recommend a visit.
About Manorbier Castle
Address: Manorbier, Pembrokeshire, Wales, SA70 7SY
Attraction Type: Castle
Location: Off the B4585 about 3 miles west of Penally
Website: Manorbier Castle
Phone: 01834 871394
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express
Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low-exceptional) on historic interest
Manorbier, St James Church - 0.1 miles (Historic Church)
King's Quoit Cromlech - 0.5 miles (Prehistoric Site)
Carswell Medieval House - 2.9 miles (Historic Building)
Lamphey Bishop's Palace - 3.5 miles (Historic Building)
Carew Cross - 3.9 miles (Historic Building)
Carew, St John the Baptist - 3.9 miles (Historic Church)
Carew Castle - 3.9 miles (Castle)
Tenby Castle - 4.5 miles (Castle)
Nearest Accommodation to Manorbier Castle: