Raglan and surrounding Castles, Francesca Cole, 1999
HORATIA DURANT MEMORIAL PRIZE ESSAY COMPETITION 1999
RAGLAN CASTLE PAST AND PRESENT
BY - FRANCESCA COLE
RAGLAN CASTLE IN THE PAST
Not farre from thence, a famous Castle fine,
That Ragland knight, stands moted almost round.
Made of freestone, upright as straight as line,
Whose workmanship, in beautie doth abound.
The curious knots,wrought all with edged toole,
The Stately Tower, that lookes ore Pond and Poole;
The fountaine trim, that runs both day and night,
Doth yield in showe, a rare and noble sight.
Thomas Churchyard, (The Worthines of Wales 1587)
THE BUILDING OF THE CASTLE
Raglan Castle was originally owned by the Bloet family. It was a large manor house which was in their family from 1174. Elizabeth Bloet's second husband, William ap Thomas, began the castle building.
It was William who built the great tower, the South gate, the hall and the keep (the yellow tower). He sadly died in 1445, he was undoubtedly a wealthy man who enjoyed living in comfort.
His son,William Herbert, was even wealthier than him. William made lots of money by trading with France and importing wine, he also fought for King Edward IV who made him a baron.
Around the great tower (which his father had built) he added six turrets, he built a solid bridge over the moat instead of the wooden drawbridge. He also built two blocks of apartments by the south gate, he also built the grand staircase, the fountain court, the chapel, family rooms and the kitchen. He also built the elaborate French-style battlements.
In the Battle of Edgecote he was defeated and executed in July 1469. He was succeeded by his son another William Herbert, earl of Huntingdon. William was only 14 years old when his father died. That put his mother, Anne Devereux in charge of Raglan.
Not much was added to the castle at this time, but there were already fine tapestries, carpets, furniture and silver, brass and pewter vessels at the castle. Eventually the castle was passed down to Charles Somerset who was favoured by Henry VIII who allowed him to bring lead from Tintern Abbey to Raglan.
His grandson William rebuilt and extended a part of the hall, and built the Oriel window. He built the second floor Long Gallery overlooking the fountain court and it's marble fountain with a great white horse, and raised and improved other parts of the castle.
William Somerset's son Edward built fire places, the White Gate and an outer enclosure. By now Raglan was one of the finest fortified castles in the land, and a richly residence.
THE BUILDERS AND OWNERS OF RAGLAN CASTLE
- (1) Elizabeth Berkeley = William ap Thomas = (2) Gwladys (Daughter of Dafydd Gam) (d.1454)
- Bloet heiress(d.1445)
William Herbert = Anne Devereux Earl of Pembroke (d.1491)
William Herbert Walter Herbert = Anne (Earl of Huntingdon) (d.1507) (d.1491)
Elizabeth Herbert = Charles Somerset (1st Earl of Worcester) (d.1526)
Henry Somerset (2nd Earl of Worchester) (d.1549)
Edward Somerset (3rd Earl of Worchester)
THE DESTRUCTION OF THE CASTLE
In 1646, during the reign of Charles I, during the Civil War, Raglan Castle was attacked and defeated. Oliver Cromwell then ordered the castle to be deliberately destroyed along with many books and manuscripts which had taken over 200 years to collect.
During the 17th and 18th centuries stone was taken away for building purposes,and then the castle became very overgrown.
RAGLAN CASTLE, AS IT IS
I cannot but regret whatever I view this grand relict of baronial magnificence that it has been so long neglected and uninhabited. (Sir Richard Clot Hoare - Journeys 1793-1810)
Raglan Castle is a magnificent structure, set in a green field overlooking Raglan village. Throughout the year lots of activities take place in the castle grounds. Here are a few of the events.
Archery BOWMEN OF THE ROSE (Courtesy Archery Ticket)
This ticket entitles a child a child 16 years old or under one free go at archery.
In Touch with History
Wales actors company – Romeo and Juliet
Raglan Castle is the newest castle in Wales and Chepstow Castle is the oldest.
THE FUTURE OF THE CASTLE
In the future I would like to see a model of Raglan Castle like what it looked like when it was first made and what it looks like now. I think it would be a good idea because then people would know what the castle looked like and how its changed. It could be open for private parties or medieval banquets.
My next idea may sound a bit adventurous but it would probably be popular! I would like to see what it would have been like to live in the castle when it was at its height. So if visitors were able to wear virtual reality helmets and costumes it would make visiting the castle a unique and exciting experience.
I also hope Raglan castle will continue to be looked after to the same high standard as it is today.
“Stranger! Ponder here awhile;
Pause in Raglan's ruined pile;
All that power and wealth combined,
With skill to plan,and taste refined,
to rear a structure fit to be
The home of Englands chivalry,
Was lavished here! - Where, met in hall,
Mailed barons kept their festival -
The night in lordly wassailspent -
The day in tilt and tournament;
Yet still, When England's woes began,
Were first to arm and lead the van;
To shield the monarch in his need -
In freedom's glorious cause to bleed;
to loyalty surrendering all -
Then with their falling King to fall”.
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