Raglan Castle, Josh Williams, 1999

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HORATIA DURANT MEMORIAL PRIZE ESSAY COMPETITION 1999

RAGLAN CASTLE

BY - JOSH WILLIAMS

Introduction - This book is about Raglan Castle. It has drawings, photographs and much more. I hope you enjoy my book and will read it from start to finish. Thank you, Josh Williams.


Raglan is the finest late medieval fortress-palace in Britain. The first part the great tower (Yellow Tower) was built by Sir William apThomas in the 1430's it was a strongly built tower with up-to-date gun ports and a newly designed and unique double drawbridge.

His son William Lord Herbert, added a double courtyard mansion, built within but defended by a gatehouse and many towered walls. Both him and his father built the castle using fashionable French building styles and employed expert masons whose trademarks can still be seen on Raglan's finely dressed sandstone walls.

Built regardless of cost with splendid carvings and stonework the castle became still more splendid when in 1548 William Somerset built the hall which remains the finest and most complete of all apartments in the castle. The huge fireplace survives as a small part of the beautiful windows. Earl William also added the long gallery, without which no great Elizabethan house was complete.

At the outbreak of the civil war Raglan came under great attack. It was pounded by heavy artillery under the command of Sir Thomas Fairfax who was finally forced to surrender.

The fall of Raglan Castle marked the end of the Civil War. Cromwell's demolition engineers took to reducing the great walls. However the strength of the great tower proved difficult to demolish and they were forced to undermine the walls and two of the six sides were brought crashing down.

THE MOATED GREAT TOWER

The Great Tower which William ap Thomas built to withstand gunpowder, and was modelled on similar French towers. In Wales it was a rare masterpiece. It was originally five storeys high. The top storey has one but even without the tower it is still an impressive height. It was reached by a fixed wooden bridge which rested on stone piers, and two drawbridges. The beams fitted into the vertical grooves on the face of the tower when the bridges were raised. This arrangement was replaced by William Herbert with a two decker arched bridge which lead to a building, now gone, in front of the tower. William Herbert also added a decorative low hexagonal apron wall with six small corner turrets, one of which had a gardrobe and another of which has a postern door to the moat.

THE WHITE GATE The White Gate dates from the 11th Century and was one of the final additions to the castle. Today,the modern entrance to the castle is through the White Gate. Only the basement part of the ground floor survived from this once magnificent structure.

THE FOUNTAIN COURT The Fountain Court was an open area fronting the Grand Porch and the Grand Stairs. The Porch was originally the work of Sir William ap Thomas but it was much altered when the Fountain

Court buildings were built by Sir William Herbert. The Fountain Court took it's name from a marble fountain in the middle of the court complete with it's White Horse statue. The Grand Stair is approached through an ornamented outer portal and it gave us an idea as to how the porch to the hall may have looked in the 15th century.

THE HALL The Hall is the finest and most complete of all the castle's surviving parts. Its present form dates from the 16th century, although some parts of the earlier hall were built by Sir William ap Thomas. This can be seen by the windows that are now blocked in the South/West wall and some of the masonry in the gable wall is likely to date from the first half of the 15th century. The great fireplace has a divided flue running up either side of the window, with delicately moulded corbels. All this work was carried out by the third Earl of Worchester in 1570.

WHAT I THINK WILL HAPPEN TO RAGLAN CASTLE IN THE FUTURE. I think that Raglan Castle will stay standing and will become more popular in the future as it has increased it's visiting population each year. Many people say it is the best castle in Britain and I have to say I agree with them.


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