Caerphilly Castle is one of the largest medieval fortresses in Britain construction was begun in 1268 by the Anglo Norman marcher lord, Gilbert de Clare. It was concentrically planned with rings of both stone and water defences making it a formidable castle even today.
At the time of its construction in the late 13th century it was a revolutionary masterpiece of military design and would have been a fantastic sight as it still is today. Gilbert de Clare, The then lord of Glamorgan had the castle built with the purpose of securing the area and preventing lowland south Wales from falling into the hands of Welsh leader Llywelyn 'the Last', who then controlled most of mid and north Wales.
De Clare built many other castles on the northern fringes of his territory for the same purpose, such as Castle Coch.
In 1266 he had seized the upland district of Senghenydd, in which Caerphilly lies, from the Welsh to act as a buffer against the southward ambitions of Llywelyn.
Llywelyn realising the threat the castle tried but failed to prevent it from being built. Construction started on 11 April 1268 and Llywelyn attacked in 1270 after a slight pause the construction began again in 1271 and was completed without hindrance and apart from the remodelling of the great hall and some other domestic works in 1322 to 1326 for Hugh le Despenser there were no other major alterations making it a great example of late 13th century military architecture.
By the 19th Century the castle was in ruins but was meticulously restored by the 4th marquis of Bute
When i first visited it rained, not just drizzle, i mean really rained. i'm sure you can see by the pictures. On a recent visit in Febuary the weather was, err, well. better, at least it was not throwing it down so we visited again just to take some better pics. I thought about replacing these pictures with the newer ones but then i thought it might just spoil it, Somehow the rain just adds to it. I will put the newer ones in a travelog.
Adult - £3.60, Concession - £3.20, Family - £10.40
Entry is free for Welsh residents aged 60 and over or 16 and under who have a valid pass.
A joint ticket for Caerphilly Castle, Castle Coch and Cardiff Castle is available: Adult £14.00, Concession £12.00.
01.04.09 - 31.10.09: Monday - Sunday 9.00 - 17.00
01.11.09 - 31.03.10: Monday - Saturday 9.30 - 16.00, Sunday 11.00 - 16.00
The Twyn Chapel was originally built in 1862 for £1,200. In recent years it has undergone exensive refurbishment which has retained its' gothic style of architecture. It is now used mainly as a community centre. Providing the local community with rooms to hire for all sorts of occasions. At the weekends the Twyn Chapel is host to Farmers Markets, Craft Fayres, Antique Fayres and art exhibitions. These are usually advertised on a big banner outside the centre.
Caerphilly Castle is an impressive medieval castle that was built in the 13th century. Its costruction started at 1268 by the powerful lord of Glamorgan, Gilbert de Clare, he tried to secure his territory from Llywelyn the last that was controlling North Wales. Although several additions were made in the next 2 centuries it felt in decay from the 15th century.
I didn’t know how big it was before our visit. According to the sign at the entrance tt is actually the largest in Wales and second in UK after Windsor Castle covering over 12 hectares with its extensive lake defences!
The castle was at the forefront of the military technology of the day. The first deliberately planned concentric castle, with new “walls-within-walls” defensive system. What’s more it was also surrounded by lakes to make the siege more difficult. There is a modern bridge that spans the inner moat to lead to the castle but originally a drawbridge linked the spot to the outer east gatehouse and there was also a similar bridge at the western end of the castle so the result was a floating island fortress! The surrounded lakes were fed by natural streams but there were also fortified dams to held back the water.
Before we enter inside we took some pictures of the exterior walls (pic 1) and the massive outer entrance (pic 2). We bought the entrance ticket (there’s also a small gift shop there) and checked the inner part of the castle. Between the outer entrance and the inner area there were 3 drawbridges, 6 portcullises and 5 sets of double doors!! Can you imagine the king walking outside and suddenly “oh god, I forgot my umbrella in the bedroom!” He would need an hour to return :)
It’s open daily 9.30-17.00 (july&august till 18.00, November-february 10.00-16.00)
The entrance fee is £4
Hall Range (pic 1) was the other main accommodation inside the castle.
It housed several buildings, a pantry and buttery with the castle chapel situated above them reached by external stairs from the courtyard. At the far end added later the floors that housed the private apartments of Gilbert de Clare.
But the most interesting room to see here is the Great Hall (pic 2) that lies at the centre of the Hall Range. It was erected during the first phase of the castle building but according to the sign inside it was extensively remodeled by Hugh le Despenser in 1326 that raised the floor and added a new roof and larger windows. The roof we see today is a reconstruction of 1870.
It’s supposed to be the most impressive space in the castle because it measures over 22m x 11m but we felt a bit disappointed because it was empty, just some shields on the walls and a table. Here was the room were guests were received, business was transacted etc It was also the area were huge meals were taking place so I was expecting to see something more, like the huge tables I have seen on paintings that shows the Great Hall full of people enjoying a great medieval meal. Gilbert’s wife was princess Alice of Angouleme, she had a lot of free time while her husband was preparing for war so usually she was arranging dances in the Great Hall, I guess it was called "dancing with the stars.. oups sorry with the knights" :)
The legend wants Alice to be very beautiful and I guess Albert was always in dirt due to the lack of asphalt on the medieval streets so she felt in love with another man, Gruffydd, the prince of Brithdir. The stupid prince decided to keep the relationship without telling anyone except a monk but the monk was more a servant to the king (and his money) and not to God so he preferred to inform his boss. That caused the anger of Gilbert that decided to kill Gruffydd by hanging him on a tree…
Alice must be a ghost now, wandering around the castle but we didn’t manage to see her no matter how hard we tried! :)
Caerphilly common has a network of well developed footpaths for those nature lovers among us to enjoy. The car park at the top of the mountain road is ideally situated & is a good place to begin your ramble around the Welsh countryside. If it's great views you want, cross the road from the car park & follow the path to the top of the Mountain. This is a fairly easy walk, only a few steep bits to contemplate, the views from the top are well worth the effort. On a clear day you can see the Brecon Beacons to the North and the Bristol Channel to the South.
Ok, I know, Caerphilly town isn’t attractive and if it wasn’t the impressive castle no one would bother visiting this boring welsh town. But after visiting the castle we decided to spent some time in the town, there are some small squares, some small pedestrian streets full of stores with low prices, locals on their daily activities.
The best part is just outside the castle where there is walking path and you have view of the city (pic 1), the row of houses that face the lake are picturesque anyway but we also took some more pictures from squares (pic 2), this structure with the clock on top (pic 3) and the Twyn Community Center (pic 4) although it was closed so I don’t know if it houses some kind of exhibition or something similar to keep a visitor that is more into galleries, museums etc
Walking the streets of Caerphilly nothing really could attract our attention except some modern sculptures here and there (pics 3&4), a pyramid near the castle (pic 2), small details that can ease the eye in a boring city.
We also saw a statue in the city center (pic 1). It was made by the sculptor James R. Done and shows Tommy Cooper. Tommy Cooper (1921-1984) was born in Caerphilly, he was a famous comedian and magician. In most of his appearances he was wearing a red fez. He was making popular stand up comedy but many people remember him because he died on stage from heart attack but it took a while to the millions of viewers to realize that it wasn’t just another joke… he really died on stage… just like that! You can see the video on youtube.
The statue unveiled on February 23rd 2008 by Sir Anthony Hopkins.
One of Henry III's most powerful and ambitious barons, Gilbert de Clare, lord of Glamorgan, built this castle. His purpose was to secure the area and prevent lowland south Wales from falling into the hands of the Welsh leader Llywelyn the Last, who controlled most of mid and north Wales. De Clare built other castles on the northern fringes of his territory for the same purpose, such as Castell Coch. He had seized the upland district of Senghenydd, in which Caerphilly lies, from the Welsh in 1266 to act as a buffer against Llywelyn's southward ambitions. Llywelyn realised the threat and tried but failed to prevent the castle from being built; it was begun on 11 April 1268, was attacked by Llywelyn in 1270, and was begun again in 1271. This time it was completed without hindrance. Its message was not lost on Llywelyn, who retreated northwards. Apart from the remodelling of the great hall and other domestic works in 1322-6 for Hugh le Despenser, no more alterations were carried out, making it a very pure example of late 13th-century military architecture.
By the 18th century the lakes were dry and houses had been built against the foot of the south dam. That the castle rose again from its sorry state is due to the visionary clearance and restoration work undertaken by the Bute family and the imaginative reflooding of the lakes by the state in the 1950s.
Admission Charges are £3.00 for Adults, £2.50 reduced, families are charged £8.50, locals can enter free upon pass/proof of residency. A family ticket is based on 2 adults, and upto 3 children under 16 years of age. Children under 5 years are allowed into the castle free of charge.
Standard opening hours:
1 April to 1 June: 09.30 - 17.00 daily
2 June to 28 September: 09.30 - 18.00 daily
29 September to 26 October: 09.30 - 17.00 daily
27 October to 31March: 09.30 - 16.00 Monday to Saturday; 11.00 - 16.00 Sunday
Caerphilly have now built a great centre for tourism and have all the information a tourist could possibly want from accommodation, event guides, opening hours and general advice. The tourist office as seen in the picture is located 300 yards from the Castle entrance.
April 1st - June 1st, 9.30am - 5pm daily.
June 2nd - September 28th, 9.30am - 6pm daily.
September 29th - October 26th, 9.30am - 5pm daily.
October 27th - March 31st, 9.30am - 4.30pm Monday - Saturday, 11am - 4pm Sundays.
24th, 25th 26th December and 1st January.
Last admission is 30 minutes before closing.
Parking, toilets, gift shop, tours (by prior arrangement). Disabled visitors may park outside the front entrance.
Tel: +44 (0) 2920 883143
Caerphilly Visitor Centre
Tel: +44 (0) 2920 880011
Fax: +44 (0) 2920 860811
Once inside the castle we realized that we still haven’t reached the heart of the castle, we could see the defence walls and the main entry.
The Gatehouse (pic 1) leads to the real castle, where the “real life” was taking place. The Gatehouse had its own protection too, concentric defences like Chinese Boxes, one within the other so each person had to be penetrated in turn before the next could be entered. Hopefully, we just walked through the small arch (pic 2), there weren’t many visitors that day anyway :)
After the Gatehouse there is an open air area. It’s the inner yard (pic 3), surrounded by strong walls, towers at each corner and gatehouses at either end, obviously a very heavily protected area or a good place for a Big Brother show to be filmed :) The main water supply was also located here.
The 3 story towers had the apartments at the upper floors while the lower one was used for storage and/or defence. The eastern gatehouse had 3 floors while the western 2. Gilbert de Clare must used the eastern gatehouse as private residence the first years before new apartments were built for him near by.
It’s open daily 9.30-17.00 (july&august till 18.00, November-february 10.00-16.00)
The entrance fee is £4
After visiting the Great Hall we went up to one of the towers and checked some of the rooms, we walked through dark corridors (pic 2) making stupid jokes about kings and queens, it was funny we were alone and could hear the echo of our voice, we opened some doors (pic 5) to see smaller rooms but in general there wasn’t something really interesting to catch our eye for too long.
As I said it’s a mistake they have left the rooms empty, they could put remodeled furniture so to have better point of view. Of course I know that the medieval times weren’t something special when we the issue is decoration of inner spaces and probably the local craftmen didn’t do much better job than IKEA :)
Definitely worth the admission price (£4 for adults in 2011) for such a spectacular fortress. To get to the inner bailey you have to travel through four gates and over three bridges. I don't believe it was ever captured by the Welsh Princes, though they did try while it was still being built!!
Caerphilly Castle was the 13th century creation of "Red Gilbert" de Clare, Lord of Glamorgan, desparate to defend his lands from Llewellyn ap Gruffudd, Prince of Wales.
What I found so impressive about the castle was its superb defences. A lake, followed by two moats!! The moats are at higher levels than the lake, which allowed them to flow out and power the castle's mill.
There is also a Great Hall (in use for a wedding when I visited) and the famous leaning tower, which leans at 10 degrees, more than the leaning tower of Pisa.
And a museum describing the history of Wales.
And a large Gift Shop.
Opening hours vary. Generally 9.30am to 5pm, but longer in mid-Summer and slightly shorter in mid-Winter. I spent over an hour wandering around. Last admission half hour before closing time.
The castle is large and in reasonably good state of repair especially the inner ward, and the outer walls.Go into the main hall , see the leaning tower, see the machines of war outside in one of the forecourts, visit the exhibition, and walk around the inside of the walls and see why the castle was impregnable.
Llancaiach Fawr Manor is a large semi fortified manor house on the outskirts of Nelson near Caerphilly in Glamorganshire South Wales.
Built in 1530 for Dafydd ap Richard (Prichard) under the turbulent times of the Tudor Kings and Queens the house was designed to be easily defended with only the one entrance, walls some 4ft thick with strong wooden doors and originally a stone spiral staircases for access between floors. After the end of the Tudor period the country now under the Stuarts the Prichard family prospered and the house was extended in 1628 with a new Grand Staircase being constructed and two of the rooms used by the family panelled in fine oak.
Peace in the country did not last though, and in 1642 the country was in a Civil war with the King on one side and Parliament on the other. The owner of the Manor Colonel Edward Prichard was appointed as Commissioner of Array to the King and was responsible for raising men and money for the Royalist cause in the county of Glamorganshire.
This is the period of time that visitors to the Manor step back to, for after paying your money in the separate reception and restaurant building you walk through a small museum that houses some of the many items found during the restoration of the house, you step out of the door and are transported back to 1645. Met at the house by one of the many servants you must present your letter that introduces you as an acquaintance of the Lords friend and enables you to partake in the hospitality of the house. You then have a choice of exploring the house on your own or being guided around by one of the servants. (being guided around is by far the better option as you will find out a wealth of knowledge about the house but more importantly about life in 1645 for the people that lived in and around the house).
The house is said to be haunted and hosts regular Ghost Tours and there is even a Ghost Cam, see if you can spot a little girl who is sometimes seen.
See Llancaiach Fawr Manor Most Haunted
The Admission Prices in 2011 are:
Concessions: £5.50 (senior citizen, student, disabled)
Child: £5.00 (3 - 16 years)
Family: £19.00 (2 adults + 2 children)
Group Discount rates (20+ people)
Adult: £5.75 per person
Concessions: £4.95 per person
Admission to the Visitor Centre shop, café/ restaurant, exhibition and gardens is free
Weekdays: 10.00am – 5.00pm
Weekends: 10.00am – 5.00pm
November to February: Closed on Mondays (except during school half term holidays)
Last admission to the house is 1 hour before closing. Please allow at least 1½ hours to see the house and additional time to view the gardens and exhibition.
The Castle is by and large the main tourist attraction of Caerphilly, the Castle is huge in fact it's the second largest in Britain after Windsor.
It was built by Gilbert De Clare, Lord of Glamorgan to prevent lowland south Wales from falling into the hands of the Welsh leader Llywelyn the Last, who controlled most of mid and north Wales. De Clare built other castles on the northern fringes of his territory for the same purpose, such as Castell Coch. Llywelyn realised the threat and tried but failed to prevent the castle from being built; it was begun on 11 April 1268, was attacked by Llywelyn in 1270, and was begun again in 1271. This time it was completed without hindrance. Its message was not lost on Llywelyn, who retreated northwards. Apart from the remodelling of the great hall and other domestic works in 1322-6 for Hugh le Despenser, no more alterations were carried out, making it a very pure example of late 13th-century military architecture.
Throughout the year the Castle holds Medieval Fayres (normally on Bank Holidays) and is the focal point for the annual Big Cheese festival held at the end of July.