A scrapbook of Ragland goings on at the Castle, 1640 - 1647', Raglan Castle Diary, Anna Ward, 2012
September 15th 1640
Hi diary, my name is Scrap, I am a dog. Usually I just run around the castle and town of Ragland, but recently I’ve noticed that strange things are going on, so I’ve decided to make a diary to record what happens, just in case it gets interesting.
I live with Mary Lennox who is 7 and her Mum and Dad. Mary’s Mum is a seamstress who makes clothes for the important people in town. Her Dad works as a forester for the Earl of Worcester, who is also known as Henry Somerset, and lives with his family at the castle. The castle is about 200 years old, and is built from stone taken from the Wye Valley to the east. The castle is really pretty, although some parts of it are more like a massive house, than a stronghold.
I spend most of my time outdoors; I don’t have a feeding bowl so I find food when and where I can get it, often on the rubbish heap and that’s why Mary calls me Scrap.
We live in a simple two roomed house, made from timber and mud, with a straw roof.
Everybody in the castle and village are used to me so they don’t see me come and go, I get to hear and see everything!
September 23rd 1640
Today I played in the castle most of the day.
I spent ages running in and out of the gardens and into the great hall. In the great hall there were lots of paintings on the walls; one I noticed in particular was really massive. This was a picture of a man with Ragland castle in the background half built. Under the painting was a plaque saying that the picture was of Sir William ap Thomas and dated 1435, this must have been the man who starting building the castle.
Next to this was another picture of a man called William Herbert who in the picture was standing on the great gatehouse that looked like it had recently been built. Both men looked the same, and I wondered if they were father and son; in fact, I’m sure they were!
The funny thing about being in the castle was that there is so much furniture around. It’s strange that at home with Mary we have only a plain table and chairs, and shelves. The furniture at the castle was both thin and pretty and the seats were covered in cushions and leather.
My favourite is the grandfather clock that stands at the bottom of the great stairs, ticking and tocking all the time.
October 2nd 1640
Ragland is a small bunched-up town with only 4 roads that meet at the church. The houses are very dirty compared to the castle, but I like it this way. The roads are dusty tracks with stones scattered here-and-there, later in the year they can be very muddy and wet.
Most of the houses are like ours, simple, made of timber with straw roofs. We live on Castle Hill, which stretches between the castle and the church; I think that’s where the road got its name from.
St Cadoc’s is the name of the church; I heard Mary’s mum say when she was talking during the last service we attended, that a church has been on that piece of ground for the last 1000 years. I thought that was unbelievable!
There are a few important stone buildings, such as the pub, the court house, with a stone inscription saying that it was opened during 1632, and of course the church.
Once a week a market is held in the town, on this day there are loads of people selling and buying food, clothes, pots and pans, hot pies and shoes. On the green, in wooden pens, are pigs, cattle and sheep, they are all noisy and smelly but quite fun to play with. October 7th 1640
Today the autumn fair was held in Ragland. The town was full of people, many more than on market days.
I was tempted to jump over the fence to help the other dogs that were fighting with a bear, but at the last moment Mary grabbed me, and held me back.
Next we watched the cock fighting, this was noisy and bloody. These games in the town are so different from the ones that I’ve seen in the castle.
I also saw Dr Thomas Bayley at the fair; he lives close to us in Ragland and quite often gives me scraps to eat. Dr Bayley has visited Mary’s house when she was ill, and he always patted me so we became friends.
In the castle I’ve watched a silly game where two people keep hitting ball between them and never seem to kill it. I think this is called tennis.
I’ve also seen the Earl playing a game with carved figures on a chequered board in the great hall, that he called chess.
December 25th 1640
What a great day today was! Firstly we went up to the castle, joined by the rest of the town and when we got there, there was a service in the chapel. Mary stood by me.
I noticed that there were apples hung from some of the trees near the chapel; Mary’s dad explained to her that this was a traditional Christmas decoration for the day before Christmas and that day was also known as Adam and Eve day.
We gathered in the great hall where there was a massive fire in the fire place, making the room very warm and cosy. A long table stretched across the top of the room and here I saw Henry Somerset, who was very old and had long grey hair, along his eldest son Lord Herbert and some of his other family members and his leading men.
It was a good day for scraps; I managed to find left over chicken, some humble pie and apple jelly for my pudding. I tried to get some of Henry’s swan that the King had allowed him to eat, but was chased away.
I heard Mary ask her mum what was in the humble pie, her mum said deer, but it didn’t look much like venison!
October 17th 1642
Today, Prince Charles, the son of King Charles 1st, came to the castle. He was escorted by Sir Hugh Vaughan, along with several soldiers and important looking people.
The Price was just a boy, not much older than Mary, but had very long hair, and rather than play with the other children in the castle, he spent most of his time with the adults.
I noticed that they even though they were grown men, the adults all had long curly hair in ringlets, very big lacy collars and large lacy cuffs, they had tall leather boots, and wore brightly coloured, luxurious clothing. They even had big feathers in their hats.
I counted about 30 soldiers at the castle today.
October 18th 1642
Today I rushed up to the castle and met a man called Edward Davies carrying a tray of food to the great hall. He was very friendly, and knelt down to stroke me. He continued to chat to me for ages, and told me that he worked as a waiter at the castle, that he was 16 years old, and that he come from Clytha.
I think we’re going to be great friends, and I will be able to learn about what’s going on in the castle from Edward.
He then told me (after giving me a chicken bone to chew) that he had heard the Prince and Sir Hugh Vaughan talking to Henry Somerset in the castle, they were discussing the Civil War that had started earlier this year, and asking for Henry to support the King.
I don’t know if it’s true, but I think I heard Henry promise to donate a hundred thousand pounds to the Kings War effort! Then Sir Hugh Vaughan made a speech, and welcomed Henry in joining the Cavaliers to support the Royalist army. This was a special event and there was a great feast. To celebrate this agreement the party spent the afternoon hunting in the local woods, and then evening drinking at the castle.
July 8th 1643
Today, in the kitchen, I overheard Mary’s mum and dad explaining to her what the Civil War was.
First I heard that it was a war within one county with no other countries involved, the people fight amongst themselves. (I found that very strange but I wasn’t included in their conversation. In fact, I don’t even think they knew I was eavesdropping as I was listening from the other room.)
Then Mary said to her parents that she found it very strange (just like me!) and her dad said that some people don’t get on as well as others. He then explained the reasons for the war; there were three of these: money, power and religion.
Mary’s mum said that King Charles 1st had broken up the original parliament so he could rule on his own, then he tried to raise extra taxes, but parliament refused to give Charles more money, and eventually they fell out and the fighting started. The Royalists who were also known as the Cavaliers were fighting the Parliamentarians who were also known as the Roundheads (how confusing?) By this time I was getting bored so I headed outside and guess what I saw? A rabbit running round the garden! Then I knew I had to go!
March 22nd 1644
I’ve met loads of new friends today. Up at the castle all sorts of things were going on. I’ve noticed that all sorts of new people are there and a few of them have brought their dogs that were fun to play with.
We spent hours going around and chasing each other, although eventually I realized what was going on. Everyone was getting ready for war.
There were builders making the castle walls stronger and taller and they made a new building inside the castle walls. There were piles of stone, mounds of sand and massive barrels of lime all for us to play in! (I’m not really sure these were for us to play in, but it’s too late now!)
The builders shouted at us to get away from the powder mill (I think that was the thing inside the castle) that they were making.
Then there were all the local farmers digging great big ditches in the ground around the castle (they were fun to run up and down in!) then suddenly they filled them with water, and now I have to practice my swimming!
August 12th 1645
Today I followed Mary’s dad to the castle. He was complaining to the men he was with that the Marquis wanted to cut down all the trees around the walls and that this was going to take him and the other foresters days to complete the task.
One of the other foresters was saying that if the tress were cut down it would take years and years for them to re-grow. About the Steward from the castle, Sir Ralph Blackstone, met the foresters and shouted for them to get on with the work as the Marquis didn’t want the roundheads hiding in the trees or being able to get close to the castle without him see them first.
I spent all day watching Mary’s dad chopping the trees, and later I noticed the castle workers and boys had started to carry the logs into the castle grounds. That evening I went into the castle and saw not only a pile of logs but also people everywhere carrying baskets of food all of which were being stacked into the stores.
It was a very sad day, as I returned to the town, going through where the woods had been, I didn’t see as single rabbit to chase, I guess these had been caught as the wood was cleared and were now hanging in the castles larder.
October 17th 1645
Tonight Mary was sat with her mum by the fire and they were talking about the Marquis and his family.
Mary’s mum said that she has made dresses for the family at the castle for years, even before Mary was born.
I pricked up my ears when I heard that Anne Russell had had thirteen children after she was married to the Marquis. Of these, one of her firstborn, Elsbeth had died when she was a baby, and a later daughter was named Elsbeth 2nd because Anne really wanted a daughter called Elsbeth.
Mary’s mum explained that Henry’s sister was called Elsbeth, and his mum was also called Elsbeth, so it was really important to Anne that she had a daughter called Elsbeth to continue the family name.
October 18th 1645
Last night Mary’s mum drew a family tree of the Marquis and his family, and left it on her chair. I collected it for safe keeping.
January 14th 1646
There was a big feast in the castle today. The Marquis had decided to let his sixth son, Lord Charles become the Governor of the castle.
Edward Davies told me that all sorts of new foods were tasted at the feast; including milk that was frozen solid, and some brown powdery stuff that stuck around the mouths of the diners.
Afterwards Edward told that the frozen stuff was called ice cream and the brown stuff chocolate, but as he was only a waiter he had not had the chance to taste them.
Some of the soldiers in the castle were practicing firing their cannons, muskets and arrows from the walls. I noticed that the cross shaped windows that the soldiers called arrow slots were used for the muskets and that the round holes closer to the floor were used for the cannon. These they called gunports.
March 1st 1646
This morning I spent some time chasing the other dogs from the town round and round the stocks. One of the men had turned up drunk at work and had been put in the stocks to sober up. This was a good thing because often when someone is in the stocks there’s plenty of food on the ground!
After a while I saw a cat and chased it, it led me up to the castle then I saw that something was going on. There were flags and banners everywhere and the sound of horns. I went racing round the corner and nearly ran straight into King Charles 1st!
This was the second time I’ve seen him, as I remember him visiting the castle last year.
Quick as a flash, I turned around and ran the other way, not wanting to be chased by the Kings hunting hounds.
I spent the rest of the day, watching the activities at the Castle, and even though the King spent a long time talking with the Marquis, I did notice that they had time to play a game of bowls.
May 4th 1646
I remember in past years May being the start of summer and a spring fair being held at the Town, this year however, there was no fair and this was not much fun at all. Most of the townsfolk spent almost all of their time now up at the castle helping the Marquis to get ready for war.
The women helped the ladies pack all of the valuables into barrels with straw, and removed the rugs and curtains from the great hall. I saw these being loaded onto carts that were pulled by horses, and were driven away from the castle.
The men were helping to clear the remaining trees, bushes and some of the outbuildings and from around the castle.
Everywhere there were soldiers, more and more each day. Mary was playing with some of the older children from the castle and they were guessing how many soldiers were here. One of the children was pushed in front of the others and forced to go and ask the steward how many there were. The steward was not happy to be fussed by a child, but did tell him that there were 800 soldiers in the castle, but also made him carry logs to the stores for the rest of the day! May 13th 1646
I couldn’t get into the castle this morning, as the soldiers were practicing closing the draw bridge. Each time they tried they got faster and faster, which was probably a good thing!
I swam across the water filled moat chasing a duck towards the castle.
When the drawbridge was reopened I ran across it and was shooed into the castle so as not to get in the way of the practice.
I ran into the kitchens, they were cooking rabbit for lunch, over a big fire place (it smelled good!). There were people bustling about, the cooks, the waiters, servants and boys bringing wood for the fires.
I decided to stay for lunch, and hid under the Earl’s table at the end of the great hall, under the coat of arms on the wall. All through the meal musicians played loudly from the gallery at the far end of the hall.
May 14th 1646
I went back to the castle today, and was chased by a soldier and hid in one of the underground stores.
Edward Davies came into the store and found me, he told me about his boss Sir Ralph Blackstone, who was the steward, and about the other 150 people who worked at the castle.
They had all sorts of jobs; the master of the horse, surveyors, auditors, and the master of the fishponds.
The fishponds were outside of the castle and were massive areas of flooded land where fish were farmed for the Marquis.
Edward told me that his favourite drink was Metherglin which was made from fermented honey, although he normally had to steal this as he was only usually given beer to drink.
May 31st 1646
Today was a sad day, the Marquis sent some of his soldiers to burn Ragland town.
Mary’s mum complained that she didn’t want to leave the house, but her dad explained that the Marquis wasn’t going to leave any building standing that his enemies could use for shelter, he wasn’t going to help them at all.
Mary was told to hold onto me, whilst her mum and dad carried all of our possessions in a sack out of the house and we went to the town green.
Here we joined the rest of the townsfolk and watched as the houses were burned. There was smoke and fire everywhere and some of the children were crying. Eventually I followed Mary’s family and the rest of the townsfolk and we made our way up to the castle.
June 1st 1646
I thought moving into the castle would have been fun, in the past I’ve spent hours running around the open grounds and massive gardens and enormous rooms.
Actually, when we got there so had everyone else, there were people everywhere! The place was crowded with people’s carts and possessions, their horses and children. The open spaces were filled with cows and sheep and chicken ran everywhere (some of these seemed to like being chased!).
It was noisy, busy and smelly. With this many people and this much cooking to be done, I was very pleased; there were scraps to eat everywhere!
This afternoon I ran straight into Lady Jones who was with her husband Sir Philip, they were sheltering in the castle, the lady screamed and I had to bolt to get away before Sir Philip kicked me with his big boot. I found this map of the castle; I like playing in the great tower, but the best scraps are to be found near the pantry.
June 3rd 1646
Stamp, stamp stamp, this morning I woke to the sound of marching feet. I raced up the steps to the top of the Great Tower.
I saw a circle of soldiers surrounding the castle; these weren’t like the ones inside the castle, and these new soldiers had round shinny helmets and bright red coats. The guard on the parapet next to me shouted “the roundheads are attacking!” I started barking and growling madly, but it was no use – they didn’t go away. I
Later that day, I found a secret way out of the castle, and visited the roundheads camp. A man called Sir Trevor Williams was talking to the man who was in charge called Colonel Thomas Morgan; they were discussing how to besiege the castle and where to place their 3500 soldiers.
They mentioned a man called Oliver Cromwell and arranged to send him a message, as their leader, to say that they were attacking the castle and the Royalists inside.
June 29th 1646
There was a massive bang this morning, Mary jumped and screamed, and far off I heard a solider screaming and screaming.
The men ran to the battlements, and again and again the bangs, and screams, and smoke continued. I glimpsed out of arrow slots all around the castle and noticed that there were 6 small cannons each firing at us.
I knew that the walls wouldn’t hold up for long, and it would be only a matter of time before the roundheads broke in. Our cannons fired back, and I kept out of the way as the boys ran from the powder mill to the cannons carrying more gunpowder. We hoped we had enough, and that we would not drop or lose any of the precious gunpowder.
Each time the Roundhead’s cannon fired at us the Roundheads cheered and shouted the name of the cannon. I noticed that one was called Roaring Meg.
Every time our soldiers saw the Marquis on the battlements, they cheered for him, calling him ‘The Gallant Defender of Ragland Castle’ hoping that we could win the war.
7th August 1646
Today even more roundheads arrived outside the castle.
Edward Davies told me that their leader was a General called Sir Thomas Fairfax, and that he had sent the Marquis a letter demanding that the castle surrender.
Edward also told me that the kitchen staff were gossiping loudly that Sir Thomas Fairfax would try to dig under the castle to get in, as well as bash the walls with his cannons to win the castle.
Edward gave me this picture for my diary. When I looked at it I thought how happy both the soldiers appeared, and how unreal this actually is.
August 19th 1646
I woke up this morning and could hear nothing at all.
All was quiet, I sneaked around the castle, all the guards were awake, the cook was making bread, but there was no fighting. Slowly everyone started to talk, and hug each other, because the siege was over and we had miraculously survived.
The castle gates were thrown open and the Marquis lead his men out under the raised portcullis towards the roundheads. The soldiers carried their muskets, and banners and the drummer boys played as they marched.
The soldiers appeared to be pleased to be alive, and to be allowed to leave the castle admitting defeat.
I saw the Marquis hand his sword to Colonel Thomas Morgan as he surrendered and was arrested.
The roundheads cheered and cheered and cheered!
August 30th 1646
After the castle surrendered Mary and her family took me back to the town where we started to rebuild our house and lives.
Mary’s dad was paid by the roundheads to help in demolishing the castle walls. A man called Henry Herbert of Coldbrook was in charge, and I heard him talking to the other men and he said that his, Great, Great, Great, Great, Great Grandfather was William ap Thomas, who was the man who first build the castle.
Later that day Mary went with her mum and dad to the pub that was called the Sheep Inn, and I overheard the landlord say that the Marquis had been sent to Windsor castle.
I wonder whether Mary’s story and mine will ever be told, and whether people will continue to live in Ragland, will it ever get over the war, and will the trees grow back and the castle be rebuilt?
I hope it is.
I also hope the rabbits return to the wood!
The People I met, in the order I met them:
- Mary Lennox ( fictional ) my owner
- Earl Henry Somerset (historical ) later Marquis of Worcester owned Ragland Castle until 1646, Royalist
- Sir William ap Thomas (historical) starting building Ragland castle in 1435
- William Herbert (historical ) castle builder, son of William ap Thomas
- Dr Thomas Bayley (historical ) Ragland town Doctor, and my friend
- Lord Herbert Somerset (historical ) Henry’s eldest son and heir
- Prince Charles (historical ) son of King Charles 1st Royalist
- King Charles 1st (historical ) King of England, Royalist, friend with Henry Somerset, lost the war.
- Sir Hugh Vaughan (historical ) Royalist, visited the castle in 1642, collecting funds to support the King
- Edward Davies (historical ) waiter at the castle, my friend, and wrote a book of notes about the times
- Sir Ralph Blackstone (historical ) Steward of the castle
- Anne Russell (historical ) married to Earl Somerset, died before the war
- Lord Charles Somerset (historical ) 6th Son of the Marquis, Governor of the Castle from 1646
- Sir Philip and Lady Jones (historical ) sheltered in the castle from the parliamentarians and lived in Treowen House
- Sir Trevor Williams (historical ) parliamentarian officer
- Colonel Thomas Morgan (historical ) parliamentarian in charge of troops at Ragland
- Oliver Cromwell (historical ) leader of the parliamentarians
- General Sir Thomas Fairfax(historical ) parliamentarian who demanded the Marquis surrender
- Henry Herbert of Coldbrook ( historical ) demolished the castle in 1646
Scrap: A character created by Anna Ward