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View across Penrice estate towards the Castle

The great park around Penrice Castle, the deep woodlands that encircle it, and the strange marshlands at its foot are still intact and form a landscape composition that is hard to beat in the whole of South Wales. If you add glimpses of the prow of Oxwich Head and the rich brown background of Cefn Bryn, the whole area lying at the back of the dunes of Oxwich Bay takes on an Arcadian quality.

Wynford Vaughan Thomas 1976

Wynford Vaughan Thomas’s words, written in 1976, still ring true – Penrice Castle and the surrounding Estate has survived an era of change in this country relatively untouched and provides a beautiful and peaceful haven away from modern life.

The Estate came into the family’s ownership after the Norman conquest of the Gower peninsular in the twelfth century. One of the Norman knights was given the land around what is now Penrice village for his part in the conquest and took the name of de Penrice. Although the Estate has passed by marriage several times and suffered a partial break up in the 1950s, the core of the land around Penrice Castle and the village has remained in the family ever since and we have now lived here for twenty nine generations.

After the Norman Conquest, an earthwork castle was built near present day Penrice village, behind the cottage of Sea View. With developments in castle building, this structure became redundant by the early thirteenth century and was replaced by the stone built castle which still stands today overlooking the family’s Georgian mansion. The male line of the de Penrice family died out in 1410, with the marriage of Isabel de Penrice to Sir Hugh Mansel; the Mansels were also of Norman descent and continued to live at Penrice until the mid fifteenth century when they built themselves Oxwich Castle, a semi-fortified manor house nearer the sea. The Mansels rose to prominence at court and became the most powerful family in Glamorgan, to the extent that on the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the 1530s they were able to buy the vast monastic lands of Margam Abbey, near what is now Port Talbot. The Mansels built themselves a mansion around the former abbey buildings and established Margam as their main seat in South Wales.

Throughout the ensuing centuries, the land around Penrice and the rest of the Gower Estate was rented out; Penrice Old Castle was effectively abandoned and a farmhouse was built to its south west by the tenants that rented the surrounding land.

In the mid eighteenth century, however, the male line of the Mansel line failed and the Margam and Penrice Estates passed by marriage to the Talbot family of Laycock Abbey in Wiltshire. By the 1770s the Estates belonged to the young Thomas Mansel Talbot, newly returned from

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