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Raglan Castle
Well Preserved Late Medieval Castle in Wales

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Raglan Castle is a late medieval castle located just north of the village of Raglan in the county of Monmouthshire in south east Wales. Its origins lie in the 12th century but the ruins visible today date from the 15th century and later. The peak of the power and splendour of the castle came in the 15th century and 16th centuries, as the Marches fortress of the great family of Herbert.

Its ruin came at the end of one of the longest sieges of the English Civil War. After it fell, systematic slighting of the castle was undertaken and the Great Tower was largely destroyed by mining. In the 20th century, the Dukes of Beaufort placed the castle in the care of the state. It is presently administered by Cadw.

 


Address:
Raglan Castle
Raglan
NP15 2BT Monmouthshire
Wales

Contact
Telephone from the UK: 01291 690228
Telephone from the US: 010 44 1291 690228
Telephone from France: 00 44 1291 690228
Telephone from other countries: +44 (0)1291 690228

Fax: 01291 690228
Website: http://www.cadw.wales.gov.uk
e-mail: Cadw@Wales.gsi.gov.uk

 

 

Google Maps

 

Small scale map showing the location of
Raglan Castle

Google map showing the location of
Raglan Castle

Large scale map showing
Raglan Castle

 

In Welsh, Raglan Castle is known as Castell Rhaglan.

 

History

It is likely that the early castle on this site followed the motte-and-bailey design of most castles of this period and location. Some traces of this early history can still be seen.

The present castle was begun in 1435 for Sir William ap Thomas, who married the Raglan heiress Elizabeth Bloet in 1406. On his death his son, William Herbert, continued the work. Debate continues as to which of the two was responsible for building the Great Tower, the most prominent feature of the present site.

The castle was the boyhood home of Henry Tudor, later King Henry VII, who was placed in the custody of William Herbert during the War of the Roses.

In the latter 16th century, the castle was re-fashioned into a grandiose and luxurious mansion by the Somersets, Earls, and later Marquises, of Worcester, who inherited the manor of Raglan through marriage.

The English Civil War brought about the castle’s ruin. Henry Somerset, the first Marquis of Worcester, was a staunch supporter of Charles the First, whom he entertained at the castle on two occasions. In 1646, the King’s fortunes were on the wane and the major towns and castles of England and Wales were in Parliamentarian hands. The fall of the City of Oxford released Parliamentarian forces to supplement the siege of the castle and, after many months, the staunchly Royalist Marquis was compelled to surrender to General Fairfax on 19 August 1646. A systematic slighting of the castle commenced and the Great Tower was largely destroyed by mining.

Throughout the 18th century and 19th century, the castle was a picturesque ruin, and a convenient source of building materials for the local population. In the 20th century, the the Marquises of Worcester, now Dukes of Beaufort having been elevated again, placed the castle in the care of the state. It is presently administered by Cadw.

 

The shield designs give a clue to the date of building.
These shields have a notch for a jousting lance - never found in the
early medieval period, and characteristic of the fifteenth century.

 

 

Architecture

The main part of the castle is roughly rectangular, with the hall range in the centre, and courtyards to either side, each of them surrounded by towers and sets of apartments. The Great Tower, or the 'Yellow Tower of Gwent', built for the castellan's family, stands in a moat, separate from the rest of the building, to which it was connected by a drawbridge.

Entry to the castle is through the White Gate (16th century), of which little remains. Originally, this was preceded by another gate, the Red Gate, now totally destroyed. Crossing a bridge through the monumental Gatehouse, is the Pitched Stone Court, the earliest range now extant, built around 1460 in the time of Sir William Herbert. The Service Range, to the right and ending in the Kitchen Tower, is now almost completely ruined and only the foundations indicate the extent of the original court. To the left is the surviving wall of the Great Hall, with a superb oriel window. Above ran the Chapel and the Long Gallery, fireplaces of which can still be seen. Through the Hall, one enters the Fountain Court, named for the fountain statue of a white horse, of which only the plinth remains. All around are relics of sumptuous apartments built in the Elizabethan reconstruction. The castle commands extensive views over the surrounding countryside.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

View over the interior walls of Raglan Castle

 

Aerial View of Raglan Castle

 

Interior View of Raglan Castle

 

Arial View of the Castielan's Tower , isolated by its own moat

 

A Water Gate

 

Film Location For:


The Song Remains the Same (1976)    Led Zeppelin's film

Time Bandits (1981)    directed by Terry Gilliam. The exterior of the castle was used in shooting most of the Napoleon sequence

Merlin (2008)    TV series. Used the 'Isle of the Blessed'.

 

 

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