Pencelli castle was probably built in the late eleventh century by Ralph Baskerville, a tenant of the Clares who may also have built Aberedw castle and advanced into Ceredigion with the Clares. As such it may have seen service during the war of 1093 to 1099. Alternatively the first Baskerville of Pencelli may have been his brother, Robert, who was a landholder in Gloucestershire in 1086 and lord of Pencelli as late as 1127. Roger, the last Baskerville lord of Pencelli, seems to have died before 1199 and his lands then passed through his daughter, Alice, to the Le Wafre family. In 1215 Pencelli was seized by Reginald Braose who was also lord of the Trilateral, Radnor castle, Kington, Huntington, Colwyn castle, Aberedw I, Painscastle, Hay on Wye castle, Builth Wells castle and Brecon. The Le Wafre's regained seisin, but lost the castle to rebel and Welsh forces in 1233. The fortress was repaired and subsequently probably taken again in 1262. It was recovered by 1273, and it has been suggested that the now destroyed twin towered gatehouse might have been built by Roger Mortimer Junior (d.1326) who had acquired the castle probably through his father's agency in the mid 1260s. Against this is the fact that Roger did not build a twin towered gatehouse at his own castle of Chirk. Similar twin towered gatehouses are discussed under Caerphilly. The fortress was seized by the king in 1322 and probably fell into decay soon afterwards.
Today the ruins of the great 50' square keep can still be made out behind the hotel which itself dates to 1584. There are few rectangular keeps this big in Wales, the main examples being Bwlch y Dinas (60'x40'), Chepstow (105'x43'), Dolforwyn (55'x40') and Grosmont (95'x42'). In England there is Bredwardine (78'x45'), Nether Stowey (60'x50'), Old Sarum (65'x60'), Pontesbury (60' square) and Rochester (70' square). A new Kindle version should be out on Amazon by the end of 2020. While in Ireland there is Carrickfergus (55' square).
Extracted from The Castles of Breconshire, Now out of stock. A new version is planned.
Paul Martin Remfry