Tretower Court

Tretower Castle was first established by a Norman knight of the Picard family who assisted Bernard de Neufmarche in his conquest of Brycheiniog. The manor continued to be held by the Picard family for many generations, during which time the original timber castle was upgraded. It then passed through several hands, being damaged by Owain Glyndwr whilst garrisoned against him by Sir James Berkeley. By this time the main dwelling was at the Court built nearby, and the castle fell into disrepair.

The Vaughan family held the Court from the late fifteenth century and developed it as a fortified manor house. By the time the Vaughans sold it to the Parry family in 1783 the great days of the ancient mansion were behind it and it had evolved into a substantial farm.

One J. Parry of Tretower Court served in the Royal Navy and was present off the Baltic coast when Napoleon invaded Russia and his letters home to Breconshire are deposited in the County Archives. The letter shown here is dated 1810 and was written aboard HMS Victory when Parry first joined the Navy.


His Majesty’s Ship Victory Spithead 5th April 1810

Dear Cousin
I am sorry to observe that I have been thus long deprived of your correspondence, and hoping in consequence of our former intimacy you will be pleased to write me.

I wrote you about 12 mo. ago informing you of my having entered into the Service, which steps I hope may meet your approbation. Circumstanced as I was at the time I did not hesitate in accepting of the same, as I have every prospect of Promotion in a short time to the situation of a Purser my state at present as I before stated is a Captain’s Clerk. Our destination is the Baltic, and the time of our sailing will take place about the 20th Instant. The fleet is to consist of about 26 sail of the Line besides Frigates and smaller Vessels under the Command of Vice Admiral Sir James Saumarez Bt, KB & KS who will hoist his Flag on Board the Victory. Our Chaplain is a Mr Holiday a native of Carmarthen who is I believe a truly good and pious Character and well worthy to fill that important situation and who is very much respected by Sir Jas. Saumarez and all the officers of the ships. And may our great men as well as the lower class copy from such Characters as Admiral the Rt. Hon Lord Gambier who was last Summer ridiculed and scoffed at by his inferior Officer Rear Admiral Harvey, in consequence of which the said Adml. Harvey was tried by a Court Martial and Dissmissed the Service. This Circumstance you may perhaps be better informed of than I have however Circumstances that demand our attention we cannot to often relate.

I heard from my friends in Pemb’shire about ten days ago who were all well- and I hope you will not loose [sic] the opportunity of paying them your long promised visit - any services that I can render any person on your behalf, you are liberty to command, and it will give me pleasure executing the same as far as I may be able.

Many alterations no doubt have taken place at Tretower since I left. Pray how is Cousin Edward settled. I shall consider it a particular favor to hear from you. My best respects to Cousins Evan, Elizabeth, Gwenllian, Mr & Mrs Watkins and every other Branch of the Family

and remain dr Cousin
yours Sincerely
J. Parry

Image- Tretower Castle Tretower Castle

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Text and documentation supplied by Powys County Council Archive Office