Clytha Castle

Nr Abergavenny, Monmouthshire

About this Landmark

A castellelated and romantic Gothick retreat overlooking the Usk Valley, cradle of that branch of landscape aesthetics so justly called the Picturesque.

This property is taking part in  50 for Free 2017 - click here for more information.

  • Dogs AllowedDogs Allowed
  • CotCot
  • Fire or StoveFire or Stove
  • Open SpaceOpen Space
  • Parking AvailableParking Available
  • BathBath
  • Bath with ShowerBath with Shower
  • DishwasherDishwasher
  • Outside Dining FurnitureOutside Dining Furniture
  • MicrowaveMicrowave

Beds 1 Twin, 2 Double

  • Sleeps 6
  • 4 nights from £618
  • equivalent to £25.75 per person, per night

In memory to a most excellent wife 

In January 1787, William Jones moved back from London to Wales with the intention of creating his own personal memorial dedicated to his recently deceased wife. It was designed by a little-known architect and designer called John Davenport. Clytha Castle was to become both a way of remembering and forgetting his wife,  with the inscription that it 'was undertaken for the purpose of relieving a mind afflicted by the loss of a most excellent wife' found on a tablet. His handwritten account book, logging crafstmens' wages and building materials, serves as a testament to the complexities of the process and the quality of the building.

Once home to a gamekeeper

Empty since 1948 after being home to a gamekeeper, The Landmark Trust rescued the building some 30 years later. It needed extensive internal and external repairs. The Landmark has undergone much needed maintenance over the years but no radical work has been undertaken and the restoration process has maintained the original spirit of the building. It stands on the summit of a small hill at the edge of a grove of old chestnut trees. We hope the castle and its surroundings will continue to relieve the minds of everyone who stays there.

 

Floor Plan

‘Seeing my daughter have the time of her life in this fairy-tale castle will live in my memory.’

‘A perfect honeymoon destination for us; romantic and secluded.’

From the logbook

Map & local info

Surrounded by woodland at the summit of a small hill, Clytha Castle has spectacular views across the open countryside towards The Skirrid. It sits within the Clytha estate.

This is great walking countryside, from the Usk trail on your doorstep, to the majestic peaks of the Black Mountains and the Breacon Beacons which are a short drive away.

Nearby attractions include Big Pit - the national coal mine museum and Raglan Castle. There are romantic ruins at Llantony Priory and Tintern Abbey. There's also a very local pub, the Clytha Arms.

Abergavenny is nearby with restaurants such as the Walnut Tree Inn.

For more information on things to do during your stay at Clytha Castle, please see our Pinterest page. 

Please Note: The Landmark Trust does not take any responsibility and makes no warranties, representations or undertakings about the content of any website accessed by hypertext link. Links should not be taken as an endorsement of any kind. The Landmark Trust has no control over the availability of the linked pages.

Clytha Castle
Nr Abergavenny, Monmouthshire
Clear directions

‘Seeing my daughter have the time of her life in this fairy-tale castle will live in my memory.’

‘A perfect honeymoon destination for us; romantic and secluded.’

From the logbook

Your questions answered

    What you need to know about this building

  • Does the property allow dogs?

    Yes.
  • How is the property accessed?

    Via a track from the main road.
  • What is the nearest railway station and how far away is it?

    Abergavenny – 7 miles
  • Is there car parking specifically for Landmark guests?

    Yes, there are three parking spaces adjacent to the property.
  • What type of heating does the property have?

    There are night storage heaters, Rointe heaters in the kitchen and an open fire in the sitting room.
  • How can I get fuel for the open fire or stove?

    Logs may be purchased and delivered under a private arrangement. Further details will be provided with your booking confirmation.
  • What are the kitchen facilities?

    The kitchen is fully equipped with all plates, cutlery, fridge etc.
    There is also an electric cooker, dishwasher and microwave.
  • What are the bathroom facilities?

    There are two bathrooms, one with a shower over the bath and the other with a bath. There is an additional wc.
  • Does this Landmark have steep, narrow or spiral stairs?

    The stairs are steep, spiral and narrow.
  • Can I access the roof?

    Yes,  but we would ask that care is taken in inclement weather and that children are supervised when on the roof.
  • Is this a property for hardier visitors?

    Yes, this property is hard to heat in winter.
  • Is there a garden or outside space?

    There is a garden (not enclosed).

    Booking and Payment

  • How can I pay?

    We accept Maestro (if issued in the UK), Visa, MasterCard, direct transfer and sterling cheques drawn on a UK bank. Cheques should be made payable to the Landmark Trust except for Lundy stays and boat/helicopter tickets which should be payable to The Lundy Company Ltd. All payments must be in sterling.
  • How do I create an account?

    If you have not used the Landmark online booking facility before and you wish to register in advance, you can set up an on-line account by following the instructions below:

    Go to the Landmark home page and click on Gift shop (located at the top of the home page in red).

    Select a gift (e.g. Landmark Handbook or Anniversary Mug) and complete the ‘Amount required’ box. There is no need to complete the purchase but this step is necessary in order to bring up the registration page.

    Click ‘Next Step’ at the bottom of the page.

    This will bring you to the ‘Your details’ page.

    Please complete all the fields (name, address, contact details and create an account). Click on the green ‘Create Account’ button once you have finished.

    At the top of the page headed ‘Your details’ there will be a grey box saying ‘Signed in’ and underneath this it will say ‘you are currently signed in as ….

    Here you will also have the option to ‘Sign out’. Please do so and that is your registration completed.

    Please return to the Landmark home page.

    To check your registration or update your account details at any time please ‘Sign in’ using the icon in the top right-hand corner of the home page.

    If you experience any problems in registering or setting up your on-line account please contact [email protected]
  • How do I pick up the key?

    There are various arrangements for picking up keys. To arrange to get into the Landmark, please contact the housekeeper at least two days before your stay
  • Can I pay a deposit?

    If your stay starts more than three months from the date you make the booking, you are required to pay a deposit of one third of the cost of your stay (or £100 per booking, if greater) at the time of booking. Camping on Lundy must be paid for in full at the time of booking.
  • How can I cancel or change my booking?

    If you wish to cancel or change your booking, please contact our Booking Office on 01628 825925
  • What if I arrive late?

    Please let the housekeeper know if you are going to arrive late and s/he will leave a key for you in a suitable place.
  • Do you accept payment in other currencies?

    At the moment we only accept payment in sterling.
  • How far in advance do I need to book?

    It depends. Some of our most popular Landmarks are booked up a long time in advance, but many can be booked at short notice. We will always have Landmarks free for the coming weekend so it’s always worth checking our availability list.
  • Do you have to be a member to book a Landmark?

    No, Landmarks are available to be booked for anyone.
  • Do I need a Handbook to be able to book?

    No, all the information you need can be found on our website, although we’d like you to buy one anyway as it will be a pleasure to own!
  • What happens if I can’t get to the Landmark due to bad weather?

    If the weather is bad, please contact our booking office who will be able to tell you whether the Landmark is accessible. If the housekeeper can safely get to the building to prepare it then we consider that it is open and available for guests. However if we cannot undertake a changeover then we will do our utmost to transfer your stay to another Landmark, depending on what we have available. It may not be of a similar size or in the same part of the country as your original booking. If the building is accessible but the customer cannot travel due to poor weather in his/her local area then please be aware that Landmark will not provide a refund. However the customer may be able to claim on his/her own travel insurance. We recommend that all guests take out travel insurance when they first secure a booking.

    Staying at a Landmark

  • Are Landmarks accessible for people with disabilities or limited mobility?

    Some of our Landmarks are suitable for people with disabilities or limited mobility. However, many Landmarks have steep or narrow staircases, uneven floors and thresholds, changes of level, low ceilings or beams, as well as indistinct colours on steps and in corridors. We recommend that you call Booking Enquiries on 01628 825925 if you would like to find out the suitability of a particular Landmark for anyone with a specific disability.
  • Are Landmarks only available as self-catering accommodation?

    Yes, Landmarks are only available as self-catering accommodation. We do not offer bed and breakfast.
  • Do you provide catering?

    Landmark does not provide catering, but we can recommend Greycoat Lumleys who can arrange for expert and well-trained staff to cater for one evening or for your entire holiday. Their cooks and chefs are able to work with you to meet your specific requirements
  • Do you allow dogs?

    You may bring up to two dogs to properties where dogs are allowed (please see specific property details for exemptions however dogs are not permitted on Lundy except assistance dogs). They must be kept off the furniture and under proper control.
  • Can I bring a pet?

    Apart from two dogs (see above) no other pets are permitted.
  • Am I insured if I break something?

    We do not carry insurance for breakages. However we appreciate that accidents do sometimes happen. If you have a breakage during your stay, please let the housekeeper know and if appropriate we reserve the right to invoice you accordingly.
  • Are Landmarks suitable for children?

    Yes, most of our Landmarks are perfect for children, with gardens to play in and secret places to discover. Our furniture is surprisingly robust and we positively encourage families to stay. However, some of our buildings may not be suitable for small children; for example, some of them have steep or uneven spiral staircases. We recommend that you call the Booking Enquiries team if you would like to find out the suitability of any of our Landmarks for young children.
  • Can I get married in a Landmark?

    Unfortunately, most of our Landmarks are not licensed for weddings. However, you may get married on Lundy.
  • Can I hold a big party in a Landmark?

    All our larger Landmarks are perfect for gatherings of family or friends. You may invite an additional two guests to visit you during your stay, however they must not stay overnight. This is very important because our fire regulations specifically note the maximum number of people in any one building. In addition our properties are prepared, furnished and equipped for the number of people specified and greater numbers cause damage and excessive wear and tear to vulnerable buildings. Should this condition be ignored we shall make a retrospective charge per person per day (whether or not they stay overnight) for each guest over the permitted limit, the charge being pro-rated on the total cost of your booking.
  • Are there televisions in the buildings?

    We deliberately do not provide televisions and find that most people appreciate this.
  • Why are your access tracks sometimes difficult?

    One of the challenges of restoring unloved buildings is gaining access to them. We frequently have to negotiate rights with our neighbours and share tracks with them. In many cases tracks do not belong to us and we have no right to maintain them. Wherever possible we work with our neighbours to provide you with a good quality surface, but where this is a problem then you will be warned at the time of booking.
  • Will there be sockets for my electrical appliances?

    Yes, we have standard electricity sockets for UK appliances. If you are coming from outside the UK, you will need to bring your own adaptor plug(s).

    Facilities

  • Are the kitchens and bathrooms restored to a modern standard?

    Sometimes our kitchens and bathrooms have to be imaginatively fitted into the available space in buildings where before there were none, but they are all planned and equipped to a high and modern standard.
  • Is linen provided?

    Yes, Landmarks are fully equipped with sheets and towels. All the beds are fully made up for your arrival.
  • Are the kitchens fully equipped?

    Yes, our kitchens are well equipped with cookers and fridges. There are freezers and dishwashers (in larger buildings) and, where space allows, microwaves as well as a wide and standard range of utensils. A full equipment list is available at time of booking.
  • Do you provide logs for the open fire/stove?

    Logs are provided at many of our Landmarks for an additional cost.
  • Will there be a mobile signal in the Landmark I book?

    Mobile coverage varies. Some Landmarks have an excellent signal, but others have none at all. If you are concerned, you can check with the housekeeper before your arrival.
  • Is there Wi-Fi in your buildings?

    No. At the moment, we have decided not to implement Wi-Fi in our buildings following a consultation with our customers. Many said that they would find it useful, but many also felt that it would somehow damage the experience of staying in a Landmark. As the responses were so split, and as we have so many other initiatives requiring funding, we have decided to put this on hold for the time being.
  • What should I bring with me? Are there lavatory rolls, soap, shampoo, milk, teabags, coffee, hairdryer?

    A welcome tray with tea and sugar awaits your arrival and you will find a pint of milk in the fridge. We also provide lavatory rolls and a bar of soap, per basin but no other toiletries. We do not provide hairdryers.

Creating his own personal Elysium

After the death of his wife in January 1787, William Jones moved back to Wales from London. He consoled himself during his bereavement by creating his own personal Elysium at Clytha, the estate he had bought some years earlier near his family home at Llanarth. The Castle formed the most important new feature, begun in 1790 and completed two years later.

It was a memorial to a beloved spouse and a happy marriage - as the tablet reveals, it 'was undertaken for the purpose of relieving a mind afflicted by the loss of a most excellent wife'. But it was also intended as an ornament to be seen from his house, and a place from which to enjoy the spectacular views.

Jones effectively acted as his own clerk of works and all the details of the Castle’s construction - building materials and the craftsmen's wages - survive in his handwritten Account Book. This gives a vivid picture of the complexities of a building project. Good quality freestone for the copings and parapets could not be obtained locally and so had to be brought from Bath. Travelling via Bristol, barges, sloops and finally wagons were all necessary to get this stone to Clytha.

In 1791 work was well advanced as the ledger starts to show payments to the 'plaisterer' and for a specialist joiner from Worcester. It would seem trhat the two main rooms were always meant to be lived in as there is a payment for the 'lodging rooms'. Moreover the vast sums of money spent on furnishings and equipment implies that the Castle was used for more than just picnics. Food may have been prepared in the little stone bothy behind the castle. The accounts list French China, silk, French Chintz, and paintings. The largest sum went on furniture from the fashionable London firm of Mayhew and Ince , much of it in the 'Gothic style'. By the end of 1792 the work must have been all but complete.

The architect for Clytha Castle was thought to have been John Nash to whom a payment appears in William Jones’s account book. But it now seems that it was designed by a relatively little-known garden designer and architect called John Davenport who had a small but flourishing practice in Wales often employing the Gothick style. Jones himself is likely to have played a part in the Castle’s design, which accords perfectly with the Picturesque philosophy that was widely held amongst rich country gentlemen of the time.

At some date in the 19th century, the Castle was enlarged to make it habitable as an estate cottage. It is unlikely that the tenants occupied the two main rooms. According to one suggestion, the sitting room was for use by men and the main bedroom for the ladies. At one time three families lived here and so the empty tower must have been a separate dwelling. Mr Jones died in 1805 and left the Clytha estate to his great-nephew, another William Jones. William Jones the younger demolished old Clytha House and built the present Greek Revival house, designed by Edward Haycock and completed about 1828. In 1862 William Jones assumed - or resumed - the name of Herbert, from which family the Jones of Llanarth and Clytha descended. He died in 1885 leaving the estate to his son, Reginald. Reginald had no son but his second daughter, Gwladys Herbert, lived at Clytha until she passed the house to the Welsh Office about 1950. The estate is now owned by the National Trust, from which the Landmark Trust acquired a long lease on the Castle in 1973.

In the original building accounts for the Castle, Lodging Rooms are mentioned so it seems likely that William Jones used to stay here for short periods. It would also have provided a destination for walks and for picnic parties as well as a retreat. At some point in the 19th century, extra rooms were added to the main tower: the present kitchen and dining rooms, and the bedroom and bathroom above.

This was probably done to make the Castle habitable by an estate employee, who would also have acted as caretaker for the main rooms. From 1936 until 1947 the gamekeeper, Mr Price, and his family lived here. By the greatest good fortune his daughter, Mrs Smith, was for many years our Housekeeper. She described for us the Castle as she knew it, and what it was like to live in what must have been one of Wales's most unusual estate cottages. Even then the sitting room was kept for Miss Herbert's private use, and she often used to spend an hour or two there.

Empty since 1948

When the Landmark Trust took on the Castle in 1974 it had been empty since 1948. Extensive repairs were needed inside and out, but no radical changes were made (apart from the introduction of such modern necessities as running water and electricity) to prepare the building for its new inhabitants.

  

 

However, a cementitious render was used for the exterior of the castle and over the years this caused problems by trapping damp. In progressive maintenance campaigns in 1992, 1993 and most recently 2007, this hard render has been replaced with hydraulic lime render, which allows the building to breath (the only exception to this is the main block where, as it has been dry-lined, the damp was not a problem). The lime gets its pinkish colour from the local aggregate (sand etc) used to bind it.

Also in 2007, major repairs were again carried out to joinery, stonework and parts of the roof, and a ring beam introduced above the converted tower to prevent it spreading outwards. The living accommodation was reorganised to make the kitchen and dining area in the tower, with an additional bedroom and ensuite bathroom replacing the 1974 kitchen and dining room.

Select a changeover day to start your booking...

What's a changeover day? and Why can't I select other dates?Explain MoreQuestion

A changeover day is a particular day of the week when holidays start and end at our properties. These tend to be on a Friday or a Monday but can sometimes vary. All stays run from one changeover day until another changeover day.