The Full Wiki

Pembroke Castle: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Pembroke Castle
Part of Pembrokeshire
Pembroke, Wales
UK grid reference SM981015
PembrokeCastle 2007.jpg
The western walls of Pembroke Castle. The 13th Century keep is 23 metres (75 ft) tall with walls up to 6 metres (20 ft) thick at its base.
Type Linear castle
Built 1093
Built by Earl Roger of Montgomery
William Marshal
Gilbert Marshal
Limestone Ashlar
Height Up to 23 metres (75 ft)
In use Until mid 17th century
Partially restored
Philipps Family
Open to
the public
Controlled by Philipps Family
Pembroke Town Council
Battles/wars Siege of Pembroke

Pembroke Castle (Welsh: Castell Penfro) is a medieval castle in Pembroke, West Wales.

The first castle was established in 1093 during the Norman invasion of Wales. However its present appearance owes much to William Marshal, one of the most powerful men in 12th-Century Britain.



The castle is sited on a strategic rocky promontory by Pembroke River. The first fortification on the site was a Norman motte and bailey. It had earthen ramparts and a timber palisade.

In 1189, Pembroke Castle was acquired by William Marshal. The Earl Marshal then set about turning the earth and wood fort into an impressive stone castle. The inner ward, which was constructed first, contains the huge round keep with its domed roof. Its original first-floor entrance was through an external stairwell. Inside, a spiral stairwell connected its four storeys. The keep's domed roof also has several putlog holes that supported a wooden-fighting platform. If the castle was attacked, the hoarding allowed defenders to go out beyond the keep's massive walls above the heads of the attackers.

Pembroke's inner ward and its Great Keep (left).

The inner ward's curtain wall had a large horseshoe-shaped gateway. But only a thin wall was required along the promontory. This section of wall has a small observation turret and a square stone platform. Domestic buildings including William Marshal's Great Hall and private apartments were within the inner ward.

In the late 13th Century, more buildings were added. These included a new Great Hall that enclosed a large cavern beneath the castle that was created by water erosion. The cave, once fortified, may have later served as a boathouse.

The outer ward was defended by a large gatehouse, barbican and several massive round towers. The outer wall is 5 metres (16 ft) thick in places.

Pembroke Castle superficially resembles a concentric castle but it is more accurately described as a linear fortification because, like the later 13th-century castles at Caernarfon and Conwy, it was built on a rock promontory surrounded by water. This meant that attacking forces could only assault a narrow front. Architecturally, Pembroke's thickest walls and towers are all concentrated on its landward side facing the town, the river creating a natural defense around the rest of its perimeter.


The northern walls of Pembroke Castle

Pembroke Castle stands on a site that has been occupied since, at least, the Roman period. Yet its history is one of inheritance and acquisition not wars and sieges.

Norman Lord, Roger of Montgomery founded the first castle here in the 11th Century. Although only made from earth and wood, it resisted several Welsh attacks and sieges over the next 30 years. The castle establishing itself at the heart of the Norman controlled-lands of south-west Wales.

In the 1100s Roger de Montgomerie's eldest son was forced to forfeit all his British lands and titles after he rebelled against Henry I. By 1138 King Stephen had given Pembroke Castle to Gilbert de Clare who used it as an important base in the Norman conquest of Ireland.

In August 1189 Richard I arranged the marriage of Isabel, de Clare's granddaughter, to William Marshall who received the castle and became Earl of Pembroke. The castle was then fortified in stone and the great keep was built. Marshall was succeeded by each of his five sons. His third son, Gilbert Marshal, was responsible for enlarging and further strengthening the castle between 1234 and 1241.

However as all of Marshal's sons died childless. In 1247, the castle was inherited by William de Valence, a half-brother of Henry III who became Earl of Pembroke through his marriage to Joan, William Marshal's granddaughter. The Valence family held Pembroke for 70 years. During this time, the town was fortified with defensive walls, three main gates and a postern.

Pembroke Castle became de Valence's military base for fighting the Welsh princes, during the conquest of North Wales by Edward I between 1277 and 1295.

But on the death of William de Valence's son, the castle passed through marriage to the Hastings family. In 1389, 17-year-old John Hastings died in a jousting accident ending a line of inheritance stretching back 250 years.

Pembroke Castle then reverted to Richard II. Short tenancies were then granted by The Crown for its ownership. By 1400 Owain Glyndwr had began a rebellion in Wales. However Pembroke escaped attack because the castle's Constable, Francis а Court, paid off Glyndwr in gold.

Eventually the castle and the earldom were presented to Jasper Tudor by his half-brother Henry VI in 1452. Tudor brought his widowed sister-in-law, Margaret Beaufort, to Pembroke where she gave birth to her only child, the future King Henry VII of England (born 1457).

In the 15th and 16th centuries the castle was a place of peace. But at the outbreak of the English Civil War, although most of South Wales sided with the King , Pembroke declared for Parliament. It was besieged by Royalist troops but was saved after Parliamentary reinforcements arrived by sea from nearby Milford Haven.

Parliamentary forces then went on to capture the Royalist castles of Tenby, Haverfordwest and Carew. But in 1648, when the war was at its close, Pembroke's leaders changed sides and led a Royalist uprising. Oliver Cromwell came to Pembroke and took the castle after a seven-week siege. Its three leaders were found guilty of treason and Cromwell ordered the castle to be destroyed. Townspeople were even encouraged to disassemble the fortress and re-use its stone for their own purposes.

The castle was then abandoned and allowed to decay.

Present day

Map of Pembroke Castle

Pembroke Castle remained in ruins until 1880 when a three-year restoration project was undertaken. Nothing further was done until World War I veteran Major-General Sir Ivor Philipps acquired the castle in 1928 and started an extensive restoration of the castle's walls, gatehouses and towers. After his death a trust was set up for the castle, jointly managed by the Philipps family and Pembroke Town council.

The castle is open to the public. It remains the largest privately-owned castle in Wales.

Film appearances

In 1989, the BBC used Pembroke Castle as the set of King Miraz's castle in its adaptation of Prince Caspian, one of C.S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia.

External links

Coordinates: 51°40′40″N 4°55′14″W / 51.677678°N 4.920694°W / 51.677678; -4.920694



Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address