Hay Castle to open to the public for first time

by | Mar 30, 2022 | Heritage Spaces

A historic castle, unopened to the public since it was built, is set to throw open its doors in May.

Work is currently ongoing to restore Hay Castle, in Hay-on-Wye, Powys, Wales, in time for its official opening in May.

It will be the first time the castle has opened to the public in its 900-year history.

Executive director of the Hay Castle Trust, Tom True, said work was “full steam ahead” towards the opening.

The castle was built in the late 12th Century by the powerful Norman, Lord William de Braose.

It was sacked the following century and rebuilt by Henry III.

Castle House, the adjoining Jacobean mansion, was built in 1660 but was severely damaged by fire in 1939 and 1977.

The castle was owned by Richard Booth, the man credited with transforming Hay into a global attraction for second-hand book lovers, before being purchased in 2011 by the Hay Castle Trust.

Work began on the castle in June 2018 after £4.5m funding was awarded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, plus a further £1m which was raised by the trust.

The work includes a top floor gallery for touring exhibitions, a platform at the top of the keep for views of the Wye Valley, a space for education workshops, a new entrance hall, and café in the former coach house and kitchen.

Epicure Events, based in Bredwardine, Herefordshire, has recently been appointed as the caterer for the café.

Mr True said the work to the castle had been done with “respect to [the] past”.

“People are I think understandably very excited because we have awakened this great building which is the reason why Hay is where it is, but has been dormant for a long time,” Mr True said.

“It is thrilling, it is wonderful and nerve-wracking and brilliant.

“Ancient stones and exceptional joinery are all well and good but it is the people that will make the place and I can’t wait to see them activate and animate the site.

“I think the possibilities are infinite and placing community at heart of everything we do is my top priority.”

Website: https://haycastletrust.org

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