On a misty Sunday morning, we visit LLanthony Priory, a partly ruined former Augustinian priory in the secluded Vale of Ewyas, in the Black Mountain region of Brecon Beacons in Monmouthshire, South East Wales.
In around 1100, Norman nobleman Walter de Lacy reputedly came upon a ruined chapel of St. David in this location and was inspired to devote himself to solitary prayer and study.
He was soon joined by Ersinius, a former Chaplain to Queen Matilda, the wife of King Henry I, and then a band of followers. By 1118, a group of around 40 monks from England had founded the first priory of Canons Regular in Wales. The Welsh were none too pleased with the arrival of these Norman and English interlopers and regularly attacked the Priory until in 1135 the monks retreated to Gloucester where they founded a secondary cell, Llanthony Secunda. In around 1186, Hugh de Lacy- the fifth Baron, rebuilt the priory church, which was completed by 1217.
In the Welsh town of Monmouth, in the county of Monmouthshire, hiding down a narrow street on a hill above the River Monnow are the remains of the scheduled monument that is Monmouth Castle. It was established by William FitzOsbern between 1066 and 1069 as a counterpart to his other major castle at Chepstow. Once an important border castle, and the birthplace of Henry V of England on the 16 September 1386. It stood proudly until it was damaged during the English Civil War. Eventually, it was slighted, putting it beyond military use.
Third Largest Settlement You’ve Never Heard Of (In South Wales). In 1405 Grosmont was the scene of a major battle in the rebellion of Owain Glyndŵr. Rhys Gethin, Glyndwr’s ally, raised a force of around 8,000 men who descended on Grosmont burning the town to the ground. At the time Grosmont was the this largest settlement in South Wales but the battle saw the burning of maybe 100 homes. Grosmont never recovered. In retaliation, a force dispatched by Prince Henry who would become Henry V, and led by John Talbot, 1st Earl of Shrewsbury, Sir William Newport and Sir John Greynder from Hereford, intercepted the Welsh and defeated them, killing between 800 and 1000 men. Grosmont Castle, like its sisters White Castle and Skenfrith Castle, is a Norman castle built shortly after 1066 to protect the route from Wales to Hereford.
The ruin of Skenfrith Castle, or Castell Ynysgynwraidd in Welsh, sits alongside the River Monnow in Monmouthshire in Wales on the border of Herefordshire in England. It began its existence as a wooden structure with earthworks after the Normans invaded England in 1066. It was intended to protect the route between Wales and Hereford.
At the end of the 12th century, the castle was rebuilt in stone. Skenfrith Castle, like its sisters White Castle and Grosmont Castle, is a Norman castle built shortly after 1066 to protect the route from Wales to Hereford.
We really enjoyed making this film of a splendid castle in a really lovely village. Everyone should grow up with a castle as a playground.
Chepstow Castle is the oldest surviving post-Roman stone fortification in Britain. Situated in Monmouthshire in Wales on cliffs overlooking a bend in the tidal part of the River Wye, it was the southernmost of a chain of castles built in the Welsh Marches. Construction began in 1067 under the instruction of the Norman Lord William FitzOsbern. It was originally called Striguil, which means River Bend.
Near the village of Llantilio Crossenny in Monmouthshire, Wales sits the imposing 12th-century Norman fortress of White Castle. Constructed on the foundations of its predecessor which was built of wood and earth in 1066, it was intended to protect the route from Wales to Hereford. It may have been commissioned by William fitz Osbern, the Earl of Hereford.
In 1135, King Stephen responded to a Welsh revolt by bringing together White Castle and its sister fortifications of Grosmont and Skenfrith to form a lordship known as the “Three Castles”. King John gave the castle to Hubert de Burgh, in 1201. Over the next few years, it was passed from Hubert, his rival the de Braose family, and the Crown.
Raglan Castle is a late medieval castle north of the village of Raglan in the county of Monmouthshire in south-east Wales.
The current Raglan castle was built between the 15th and early 17th centuries by the Herberts and the Somersets. It boasts a sizeable hexagonal Keep called the Great Tower or the Yellow Tower of Gwent. The tower was surrounded by a moat and could therefore only be accessed via a drawbridge but to reach this point one must already have negotiated the gatehouse which was itself protected by a drawbridge and twin portcullises. Beyond the gatehouse, are what was once luxurious accommodations.
Today we’re visiting Raglan castle.
The current Raglan Castle is a late medieval affair dating from between the 15th and early 17th centuries. The ruling families of the Herbert’s and the Somerset’s built what was a luxurious fortified castle. It is a large hexagonal keep known as the Great Tower or the yellow tower of Gwent. It is a large hexagonal keep known as the Great Tower or the yellow tower of Gwent.
The castle was surrounded by parkland with water gardens and terraces.
During the English Civil War, the castle was held on behalf of Charles the first and was taken by parliamentary forces in 1646.
In the aftermath, the castle was slighted, or put deliberately out of military use. After the restoration of Charles II, the Somerset’s declined to restore the castle. Raglan Castle became first a source of local building materials, then a romantic ruin.
Introducing Raglan Castle
There are parts of it, if you get the angle just right, that look like they might be straight out of a brochure to promote Venice. There are really nice crumbly buildings overlooking this moat, and the moat is a really interesting shape. It goes around the base of the great tower and there’s a doorway but you can walk down to the moat side. It’s a pretty impressive place. Pretty and impressive.
So I’m now standing in the courtyard. It took me a little while to get here because the outside was so spectacular. There’s a lot to see. And it’s very very pretty and very very photogenic. The courtyard here, it’s quite unusual to see one that’s still cobbled, and not only that but you can see the drainage ditch that goes all the way around the outside and there’s still quite a lot of the foundations left of the buildings around the outside of it as well. Not only that, but it’s interesting to see the different styles from the windows and the doors because they all kind of look like they’ve been built at different times. They’ve got a lot of different styles in one very small area.
The Inside Walkway
Back in the 16th century, if you were of the noble variety of person, when you wanted to get a bit of exercise but, the weather was somewhat inclement, there weren’t that many options available to you. You couldn’t go outside with an umbrella because nobody invented one yet. And there wasn’t much in the way of waterproof clothing, so instead, if you were ridiculously wealthy, then what you could do is you could come along to Raglan Castle and you could walk up and down the long gallery. This is really what people used to do to get a bit of exercise. It was nice and long, so you would walk up and down, and you would have a little bit of polite conversation, look at the paintings hanging on the wall, or admire the mouldings around the fireplace, and then look out of the window. Above me, you can just see what remains of it. There’s an awful lot of it gone but that is where you would stand to look out at the beautiful countryside and down below you’ll be able to see the water gardens and the ornamental lake. So, you know, if you’re really posh, go for a walk inside.
The Domestic Side of Raglan Castle
This room is just chock-full of fireplaces and weirdly the ones further up there have still got their mouldings on, which is fascinating because you can actually see the work done on them. It might have been more ornate but you can see the gist of what was there and it is beautiful work. What castle wouldn’t be complete without somewhere to store your grub and this is, of course, that. This is the cellar. You can tell us the cellar because it’s got a good echo. See? So this is the kitchen. There’s a fireplace there, there a fishy cooky thing there. It’s a kitchen. They cook things here. Looks like I found the library. Not real books though.
Raglan Castle’s Defence
It’s a bit of an oddly arranged castle this because you’ve got the main living quarters over there and then here you’ve got the central defensive structure which would have been cut off by the drawbridge. So, the thing is, if you were wanting to attack the big cheese you’d have to come in through this really narrow entranceway. Clever design and apparently it’s quite rare in the UK. It’s quite a long trek up to the top of the tower and it means that from the very top of the thing you can see a really long way around in every direction meaning that you really can keep an eye on what your enemies are up to and who’s trying to creep up on you. But it also means that you’ve got several stories that you can live in while you’re under siege and it all looks rather luxurious as well. Lots and lots of fireplaces and plenty of room. Be a nice place to live I reckon.
Top of Raglan Castle’s Tower
As you can see, it’s quite some view up here and that’s great; if you don’t have a problem with Heights. Did I mention I’ve got a slight problem with Heights? Actually, it’s not the heights that’s the problem it’s the looking down and that thought going through your mind that ‘I might drop off here in a minute’. *Shudders* Besides that, if you don’t have a massive problem with Heights come up here if you’re gonna visit because I can see for miles and this is Wales so it’s all very pretty. I mean, it really is stunning.