A magical land of power and influence for more than 2,000 years, Dinefwr Park and Castle is an iconic place in the history of Wales. Dinefwr Park and Castle includes a 12th-century castle, historic house and 18th-century landscape park, enclosing a medieval deer park. Two forts are evidence of a dominant Roman presence. The powerful Lord Rhys held court at Dinefwr and influenced decisions in Wales. The visionaries, George and Cecil Rice designed the superb 18th-century landscape that you see today. The ‘hands-on’ Newton House gives visitors an atmospheric circa 1912 experience.
Dinefwr Park & Castle is managed in partnership between The National Trust, The Wildlife Trust of South & West Wales and Cadw.
About Newton House
Newton House was built between 1660 and 1664 by Edward Rice and dates back to the Tudor period. Remodelling was carried out in 1770 by George Rice and his wife Cecil, who became the Baroness Dynevor in 1782. George and Cecil Rice were largely responsible for the design of Dinefwr Park that is seen today.
George Rice Trevor (the 4th Baron Dynevor) inherited the Dinefwr estate in 1852 and decided that Newton House should be modernised. In 1856 the architect Richard Kyrke Penson who leased the Lime works at Cilyrychen, Llandybie, from Lord Dynevor submitted some designs for Newton House. Five different types of stone were used in the house, with some of this coming from a quarry from the Forest of Dean. An Arcade with a conservatory above was added to the garden side of the house and a grand Porte Cochere, a porch large enough to park a vehicle beneath it was built over the front door.
The house and estate survived the First World War, with ownership of Dinefwr staying with the Rhys family until 1976.During the twentieth century the house was used among other things as a World War II Casualty Clearing Station, an arts centre, a Steiner School and a recording studio.
The name Dinefwr come from the castle, literally meaning Great Fort, whereas the name Dynevor relates to the title the family held. The Dynevor family are descended from the ancient princes of Wales who lived in the castle.
Upon the estate the White Park Cattle can be seen. These cattle’s ancestry dates back to 943ad, and play a vital role in Dinefwr’s history. The park was one of the finest designed landscapes in Europe. It featured on Catherine the Great of Russia’s tea set!
The house and estate have a lot of history and many stories to tell.
History of Dinefwr
Welsh ruler Rhys ap Gruffydd (Lord Rhys) resided in Dinefwr in the 12th century and his reign was marked by major cultural and religious achievements. He sponsored court poets and in 1176 organised a festival of music and poetry, an event that has come to be regarded as the first National Eisteddfod. In the 15th century Dinefwr underwent a cultural renaissance reminiscent of Rhys ap Gruffydd’s court. Having leased Dinefwr in 1439, Gruffydd ap Nicholas became Deputy Justiciar and gained control of the royal government of South Wales. In 1451, Gruffydd was patron and judge at the Carmarthen Eisteddfod which produced the rules of poetic metre that are still followed today.
An ideal place to hold an exciting, new literature festival!
Dinefwr Castle not only occupies a place of great affection in the minds and traditions of the Welsh people but also majestic hilltop locations above the Tywi valley. The site is forever associated with the princes of Deheubarth, the kingdom in south-west Wales.
A lack of available excavation data means uncertainty remains as to the shape, form and history of any earlier fortifications, which may underlie the medieval castles. Despite this, present evidence suggests very strongly that the history of Dinefwr Castle is entwined with the rule of the Lord Rhys (d. 1197).
Over time the castle changed hands between the princes of Deheubarth and gradually evolved into formidable fortresses. It eventually fell to the English Crown from 1287, serving as centres of royal administration and authority.
By the end of the Middle Ages the castle had become ivy-clad ruins. However, Dinefwr received a new lease of life when a conical roof constructed atop the keep created a picturesque summerhouse. It became an eighteenth-century picnicker’s paradise!
Medieval poets allude to the Gruffydd family’s descent from Urien Rheged, who ruled northern Britain in the Dark Ages, and the Ravens of Urien which were said to have protected Urien’s son, Owain, from his enemies. The ravens feature in the coat of arms of Gruffydd’s descendants, the Dynevor family. The line of Gruffydd ap Nicholas was united with the last princes of Deheubarth when his son, Thomas, married Elizabeth, daughter of Sir John Gruffydd and descendant of Lord Rhys.
Spot the Dinefwr ravens in the festival logo (and count them if you like).