Laugharne Castle 2015
Location within Wales
|Town or city||Laugharne, Carmarthenshire|
Laugharne Castle (Welsh: Castell Talacharn) is a castle in the town of Laugharne in southern Carmarthenshire, Wales. It is located on the estuary of the River Tâf and was originally established in 1116. It was rebuilt as a Norman stronghold in 1215 and has seen many alterations over time, becoming a Tudor fortified manor house in the sixteenth century. It changed hands twice during the English Civil War, being eventually captured by Parliamentary forces in 1644.
The original castle was established by 1116 as the castle of Robert Courtemain, who is recorded to have entrusted its care to the Welshman Bleddyn ap Cedifor. The castle also was the meeting place of Henry II of England with Rhys ap Gruffudd in 1171-1172, where they agreed a treaty of peace. When Henry II of England died in 1189 the castle along with St Clears and Llansteffan were seized by Rhys ap Gruffudd of Deheubarth in 1189, Laugharne Castle may have been burnt down at this time.
The Castle was rebuilt by the Normans and in 1215 was captured by Llywelyn the Great in his campaign across South Wales. By 1247 Laugharne was granted to the de Brian family. In 1257 Guy De Brian was captured at Laugharne Castle by Llywelyn ap Gruffudd and the castle destroyed. It was in Laugharne in 1403 that Owain Glyndŵr's rebellion stalled. Perhaps lulled into complacency, he was tricked by an ambush and lost 700 men. When a local soothsayer then warned him to leave the area or be captured, he retreated. After this the rebellion petered out under the weight of greater English numbers, and by 1415, Owain Glyndŵr had disappeared, fading into myth. In 1584, Elizabeth I of England granted Laugharne to Sir John Perrott, said to have been the illegitimate son of Henry VIII.
During the Civil War, Laugharne was captured by Royalists in 1644, the Parliamentary forces of Major-General Rowland Laugharne attacked the castle in 1644. After a weeklong siege in which much of the castle was damaged by cannon fire, the Royalist garrison finally surrendered. The castle was slighted to prevent any further use. It was left as a romantic ruin during the 18th century, and around the start of the 19th century the outer ward was laid with formal gardens. The gazebo overlooking the estuary was used in the 1930s and 40s by the author Richard Hughes, who leased Castle House during this period. Laugharne has also inspired two great modern writers, who worked in the garden gazebo overlooking the river. Richard Hughes wrote his novel In Hazard here, and Dylan Thomas, Laugharne's most famous resident, worked in the castle on its Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog.
The ruins of the castle as seen now are the result of much development as the building graduated from an earthwork castle to a Tudor mansion. There is little trace of the original earthwork bank or the first stone hall, which may have been taken down in the twelfth century. The two robust round towers date from the rebuilding work done in the late thirteenth century. Some of the curtain walling from this time also survives. The north-west tower acted as a keep and also guarded the entry gate through the curtain wall to its south. This tower has a domed roof, but the other, three-storeyed tower has partially collapsed. The two extra storeys and the circular stairway were probably erected in the late thirteenth century, and a new hall was built at this time against the south of the curtain wall. The outer ward, with timber defences, may also date from this period. Further work done in the late thirteenth century includes an additional round tower at the south-west corner of the inner ward and a new, stronger gatehouse, and the defences of the outer ward were rebuilt in stone.
In the mid-fourteenth century, the height of the curtain walling at the south-western corner of the inner ward was increased, and the round tower and the inner gatehouse were also raised in height. This process is particularly noticeable because a greenish stone was used for the alterations that was significantly different in colour from the red sandstone used in the rest of the building. In the sixteenth century, the castle was remodelled into a substantial Tudor mansion with a more comfortable accommodation block and with mock battlements added to the curtain walls. Excavation has shown the remains of the Tudor cobbled courtyard, the presence of a pitched stone kitchen floor and the ground plans of the building at the different periods of its existence.
The castle is a scheduled ancient monument and was designated as a Grade I listed building on 30 November 1966, being "amongst the most substantial castle remain in Wales". The castle is under the care of Cadw and is open to the public from spring to autumn. Parking is a short distance away and access is available to wheelchair-users though there are some sloping surfaces. There is a visitor centre and disabled toilets and unaccompanied children are not allowed.
- Thomas, Jefferey L. (2009). "Laugharne Castle". Castles of Wales. Retrieved 21 April 2016.
- "Dylan's Life: The 1940s". Dylan Thomas. City and County of Swansea. Retrieved 22 April 2016.
- Davies, James A. (2014). Dylan Thomas’s Swansea, Gower and Laugharne. University of Wales Press. ISBN 978-1-78316-008-2.
- "Laugharne Castle, Market Street, Laugharne Township". British Listed Buildings. Retrieved 22 April 2016.
- "Laugharne Castle". Cadw. Retrieved 22 April 2016.
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