THE new owners of Hay Castle say it will cost up to £10 million to breathe new life into the ancient landmark.

Hay Castle Trust revealed its ambitious plans for the site, from a garden inside the Jacobean manor house to live Shakespeare in the castle keep, during Hay Festival earlier this month (June).

The trustees, who purchased the 900-year-old Norman site from Richard Booth last year, said the regeneration could take a decade to complete, but will put the castle back at the beating heart of the community.

Booth’s Bookshop owner Elizabeth Haycox and her husband Paul Greatbatch secured the £2m needed to purchase the castle last May.

She said: “We’d love to open up the archway so people can walk from Oxford Street through the grounds to the market place.

“We could have an indoor garden with a glass roof in one half of the Jacobean manor house. The roofed part could be used for exhibitions, education events: we want it to be a space that is in use every single day.”

The castle site includes a Jacobean manor house, several outbuildings, walled grounds and terraced gardens.

There are shops on site now, but large sections are unsafe with the keep completely out of bounds and the east wing of the manor house lacking a roof.

The trust has cleared diseased trees from the grounds and applied for funding from Welsh national heritage agency Cadw to carry out an engineering and structural survey to determine what can and can’t be saved.

The entire project is expected to cost between £7m and £10m.

The trust will apply for funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund in about two years time after consultation with residents and visitors.

“The castle has been at the heart of Hay for almost 900 years,” said trustees’ chairman Nancy Lanvin Albert, a former television executive.

“But 900 years of sometimes turbulent history takes its toll.

“Our primary goal is permanent preservation of the site.

“Our second is to bring the castle back into public use with spaces for arts, education, culture and music.”