The 950-acre Fonmon Estate in the Vale of Glamorgan is situated in a highly rural but accessible location being only 3.6 miles from Cardiff Airport and 13 miles from Cardiff and the M4. The estate combines a thriving wedding and events business based in and around Fonmon Castle with arable, pasture and woodland, a limestone quarry and associated cement works along with a number of estate houses and cottages and ranges of traditional farm buildings.
The estate is for sale as a whole or in three principal lots with a guide price of £11.5 million for the whole through Savills. In lots it is broken down as follows:
Lot 1 - £1,500,000
Fonmon Castle Fonmon Castle is set within its formal gardens and grounds which enclose the Grade II* Watch Tower and stable block. Paddocks, the orchard, woodland, and a large pasture field complete the 72 acres. The Lot includes a pair of semi-detached cottages.
Lot 2 – £2,000,000
The land extends to 262 acres of predominantly arable and pasture land, interspersed with mature mixed woodland and includes a pair of semi-detached cottages.
Lot 3 – £8,000,000
The limestone quarry, cement works and the farmland to the south extends to 613 acres. The Lot includes a further 4 residential properties, including a farmhouse; operational farm buildings; a redundant dwelling with stables; and a historic lime works ruin.
Early records suggest a timber structure was erected on the site of Fonmon Castle soon after the Norman Conquest of south Wales in 1090. The rectangular stone keep was added in the latter part of the 12th century by the then owners the St John family. Additions were made during the 13th to 16th centuries resulting in the creation of a roughly U shaped building.
In 1656 the estate was sold to Colonel Philip Jones an ascendant of the present owners. He added the much larger double depth wing on the north side of the castle. The next significant changes which were completed in 1762 included additional battlements and the remodelling of the interior to provide comfort and elegance. Rooms were enlarged to create a staircase hall and a drawing room / library.
Following the death of the last male Jones in 1917, it passed to his niece Clara, later Lady Boothby whose grandson is the current owner. Since the creation of the original stone castle in circa 1180 Fonmon has only changed hands once.
Today, the internal architecture at Fonmon Castle is typical of the mid-18th century with 19th century additions including a grand staircase hall with a Rococo ceiling and a gallery which is carried on a cantilevered balcony. Also there are a few visible mediaeval features including a mural stair.
The original kitchen, which is currently used as dining room retains features from the early 18th century (dresser) and Victorian eras (cooking ranges). When it was built in the 1650s was described as “ye largeste kitchen of ye inhabited castle of ye kingedom” and was used as a working kitchen for almost 300 years. The ground floor is also home to the modern commercial kitchen fully equipped for catering for events and guest/visitor washrooms a bar and a board room.
The first floor which can be accessed via one of two staircases includes the finest room within the castle, known as the drawing room / library. Running from east to west across the building it is lit by a number of windows and benefits from light throughout the day. There are also two smaller drawing rooms, one known as Lady Ann’s room was historically a morning room while the other is known as the little library.
There would be potential to adapt some of these rooms into bedrooms if required.
The immediate garden surrounding the castle is believed to date back from when the castle was built in around 1180 and set within them is a Grade II listed stable block, and a Grade II* watch tower built in the 18th century as a folly. The stable block which includes around 3000 sq ft of space could subject to the appropriate planning be converted for an alternative use such as additional accommodation or commercial space.
There are a number of different gardens including a large walled garden believed to have once been the largest kitchen garden in Glamorgan, which is now mainly filled with herbs, flowers and fruit.
Across the estate are a further eight houses and cottages let on various residential tenancy types.
Commercial wedding venue
Fonmon Castle has been run as a licensed wedding and events venue since 1996. Currently the castle hosts around 90 events per year ranging from smaller private dinners and guided tours to the Vale of Glamorgan Agricultural Show which attracts up to 20,000 visitors.
Weddings make up the greatest proportion of the business with around 40 bookings each year. The castle is licensed for civil ceremonies and in 2017 planning permission was obtained for a marquee to be on site between April and October to increase capacity.
The farmland is classified Grade 2 and 3 being a rich loamy soil over a fractured limestone base. There are over 500 acres of arable and grassland, part of which is currently let on a farm business tenancy until September 2019. The arable land is farmed on a rotation of wheat, barley and oats with break crops including maize, oilseed rape, beans and grass leys.
Limestone Quarry and cement works
The quarry dates from 1912 and is now owned by Tarmac and is one of Tarmac’s largest cement operations. Reserves of limestone are expected to allow extraction at current rates to continue for another 20 years. Part of the quarry is now occupied by RWE as a waste management facility.
Giles Wordsworth director Savills farms and estates team comments, “Fonmon Castle combines a well documented and impressive history with modern day diversification generating a considerable additional income for the estate. Also there are longer term development opportunities across the estate subject to the required planning consents. The estate with its varied income streams could suit an investor in rural property or an owner occupier.”