An exciting project to bring the scheduled and Grade II* listed medieval barn at Tretower Court and Castle back into everyday use is due to start in December 2020. The project will offer a new 21st-century visitor experience at a medieval mansion known for its hospitality.
Expected to be completed in autumn 2021, the barn will undergo extensive conservation and restoration to become a new visitor centre, featuring a gift shop, interpretation space and first floor café. The finished product will be a building everyone can enjoy, including accessible car parking spaces, cycle stands, a new lift, underfloor heating and new toilets are all planned.
Spanning 900 years of history, Tretower (meaning the place of the tower) boasts two architectural wonders for the price of one; the castle with its mighty four-story tower built not only for protection but as a status symbol visible for miles around and the later, but no less impressive, medieval court that became a byword for magnificence and is said to be one of Wales’s most rewarding discoveries.
The project also provides an opportunity to better understand the site and explore how the barn has changed over time. It began as a very large 15th-century domestic building almost twice as long as it is now and possibly part of an outer courtyard.
Apart from a ruined fragment by the road only a gable wall survives, complete with blocked windows, a fireplace and even a patch of original painted plaster. This is encased in later extensions and additions of the 17th to 19th-centuries that form the barn you see today with well-preserved threshing floors and reused stones from the court and castle.
The conservation work follows extensive archaeological exploration of the site that hoped to find further evidence of the medieval building. However, most of this seems to have been swept away when it was rebuilt as a barn.
The court and castle will remain open to visitors throughout the works and any planned activities that meet the health and safety criteria in relation to Covid-19 will still go ahead. Throughout the project Cadw, wish to engage with the local community, ensuring that the new visitor centre serves the needs of both Cadw and the wider community.
Earlier in 2020, residents were invited to explore the empty barn to get a better understanding of how the project will conserve and restore an important historical building, bringing it back into everyday use.
Even our current residents will be catered for. Hibernation spaces for birds, bats and hedgehogs are part of our plans for local wildlife. And our lighting will be kept low to preserve the Dark Skies Reserve!
Cadw have appointed John Weaver Contractors as the main contractor and Terry Edwards, Managing Director at John Weaver said:
“We’re delighted to have been awarded the contract to bring an important building back into use. Our embedded conservation teams are focused on ensuring existing landmarks and heritage buildings such as Tretower Court and Castle are brought back to life.
"Our knowledgeable in-house craftsmen and artisans understand not only the finer technical details when it comes to conserving buildings, but also the heart and soul of the structures that are temporarily in our care. We will conserve this scheduled medieval barn to the highest possible standards using our extensive experience of working on historically significant buildings.”
Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, Lord Elis-Thomas, added:
“This is an exciting project that marks a new chapter for Tretower Court and Castle and the many visitors that travel from far and wide to appreciate the magnificence of the site and its fascinating history.”
“It’s vital that we continue to invest in our sites to further improve the visitor experience, and bringing back into use a medieval barn is a wonderful way to do this.”
Cadw are currently exploring options for the operation of café and would welcome discussions with the community. Please contact email@example.com for further information.