- White Castle (Wales)
White Castle ( _cy. Castell Gwyn) is a
mediæval castlelocated in Monmouthshire, Wales. The name "White Castle" was first recorded in the thirteenth century, and was derived from the whitewashput on the stone walls. The castle was originally called Llantilio Castle (recorded in the Pipe Rollsin 1186), after Llantilio Crossenny, the mediævalmanor of which it was a part.
Known as one of the “Three Castles”, there has been a defensive structure at the site since the late eleventh century.
History of “The Three Castles”
The term “The Three Castles” is used to collectively describe White Castle,
Skenfrith Castleand Grosmont Castle, all of which are located in the Monnow Valley in south Walesin modern-day Monmouthshire.
River Monnowvalley was an important route between Herefordand South Wales in mediæval times, due to its position as an area of relatively open land, which provided a break between the river cliffs of the Wye Valley to the south, and the hills around Abergavennyto the west. The Three Castles are usually grouped together by historians because for almost their entire history they were part of a block of territory under the control of a single lord.
All three sites have evidence for early Norman earthworks, possibly built by William fitz Osbern, who was made
Earl of Herefordby William the Conquerora few months after the Norman Conquest of Englandin 1066. From his castles at Monmouthand Chepstow, William was the first Norman lord to conquer central and eastern Monmouthshire, including the future sites for the Three Castles. The defenses raised at this time would have been of earth and timber, probably in the classic Norman motte-and-baileystyle.
Fitz Osbern died in 1071, and his lands were forfeited to the Crown after his son
Roger de Breteuilwas involved in a rebellion against King William in 1075. In order to prevent the rise of such a powerful magnate, the King divided up this strategically important territory – the only time in their active history that the Three Castles were owned separately. They were reunited by King Stephen before July 1137 and would remain a single lordship until the nineteenth century.
There is little evidence of building activity at any of the castles until the late twelfth century, when they were fortified by
Ralph of Grosmont, a Royal official who supervised building work for the King in Hereford. Ralph was responsible for building the towering curtain wall around the inner ward in 1185-87. The castles were later completely overhauled by Hubert de Burgh, who was granted lordship of the Three Castles by King John in 1201. Control of the Three Castles was briefly granted to William de Braose in 1205, when Hubert was a prisoner of Philip Augustus, the King of France, but William de Braose quickly fell out of favour, and by 1207 King John had forced him into ruin. Hubert de Burgh returned to power, and was appointed Justiciarin 1215.
From his time fighting in France Hubert had a knowledge of the latest in military architecture, and in the years after 1219 he was a prosperous lord who had great influence with the young King Henry III. He rebuilt
Skenfrithbetween 1219 and 1222 and Grosmontbetween 1224 and 1226in stone, adding domestic apartments to both castles, so that they could be used as lordly residences. He held the Three Castles until 1239, although they were briefly taken from him after he fell out of Royal favour in 1232 (they were returned after his reconciliation to the King two years later). Hubert first added four round towers to the inner ward of White Castle in the period 1229 to 1232. One pair of these made the great gatehouse. After his return to royal favour in 1234 he added to the two great D-shaped towers to the inner ward and built the masonry outer ward. He was probably also responsible for demolishing the original square Norman tower keep. On the king resuming the castles in 1239 Hubert was said by Matthew Paristo have spent a small fortune on their building.
After Hubert de Burgh, the Three Castles were held in Royal hands, and in 1254 Henry III granted them to his eldest son, the future Edward I. In the 1260s the southern March was threatened by the Welsh prince Llewelyn ap Gruffudd, who annexed the lordship of
Brecon, and attacked nearby Abergavenny. Gilbert Talbotwas appointed Constable of the Three Castles, and ordered to garrison them ‘at whatever cost’. Although Llewelyn’s attack on Abergavennyfailed, the Treaty of Montgomeryin 1267 recognized his southern conquests, and he was considered a significant threat.
1267 saw the Three Castles being granted to Edward’s younger brother Edmund, Earl of Lancaster. Although the Welsh threat was soon subdued with the death of Llywelyn in 1282, the Three Castles were used as residences and centres for local authority. The castles passed down through the Earls of Lancaster until the death of
Henry of Grosmont, Duke of Lancaster, whose daughter Blanche married John of Gaunt, son of Edward III. John of Gaunt was made Duke of Lancaster in 1364, and the Three Castles would remain part of the Duchy of Lancaster until 1825. John and Blanche’s son, Henry of Bolingbroke, deposed Richard II in 1399 and became King as Henry IV, at which time the Three Castles also became Royal possessions once more.
Although the Three Castles briefly saw action during the rebellion of
Owain Glyndŵrin 1404-05, they never again played a major role in military affairs. Henry VI carried out repairs to White Castle and Skenfrith Castle in the mid fifteenth century, but by 1538 the castles were abandoned, and ruinous. In 1825 the Duchy of Lancaster sold the castles to the duke of Beaufort, whose estate divided them and sold each to different local landowners in 1902. White Castle was given to the State in 1922, followed by Grosmont in 1923. Skenfrith passed through several hands before being given to the National Trust. All three castles are now conserved and maintained by Cadw, and are open to the public.
Building of White Castle
The earliest castle at this site consisted of two earthworks – the pear shaped inner ward with a surrounding water-filled
moat, and a crescent shaped outer bailey to the south known as the hornwork. To the north of the inner ward was a large area enclosed by a defensive bank, which may have been used for armies in the field to camp in safety, without fear of a surprise attack.
The earliest buildings and walls were almost certainly built of wood, although a square stone
keepwas added sometime before the stewardship of Ralph of Grosmont, who recorded an expenditure on “the dwelling in the tower of Llantilio” in the Pipe Rolls of 1186-87, implying that structure was already present. Further monies spent at the site were most likely for the construction of a stone curtain wall around the inner ward.
Like its fellow Monnow Valley strongholds, White Castle was significantly altered by Hubert de Burgh as has been described above. The orientation of the
castleshifted, with entry no longer through the southern hornwork. Instead, a new twin-towered gatehousewas built at the northern end of the inner ward. Wooden drawbridges would have controlled access from both the north and the south of the castle. Within the inner ward there would have been residences, great hall, a chapel, kitchenand brewhouse. Hubert's work here can be compared to Montgomery Castlewhich he also held and helped design between 1223 and 1232.
The hornwork, now at the rear of the castle, was maintained as a defense for a small rear postern gate. The northern enclosure, previously defended by an earthwork, was built into a large
outer bailey, with four projecting towers and a gatehouse on its eastern corner. Geophysical evidence suggests that there were small timber buildings within the walls of the outer ward, as well one large building, thought to be used as a barn.
Visiting the castle
White Castle was frequently visited and, apparently, painted by German Deputy Führer
Rudolf Hessduring the period when he was held in Maindiff Court Military Hospital at Abergavenny, between 1942 and his trial in 1945 [ [http://www.bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar/stories/40/a5279240.shtml BBC - WW2 People's War - Marjorie's War ] ] .
castletoday stands in partial ruin, although there have been few significant losses to time. The stone walls and towers of the inner and outer ward still stand, although their inner floors are missing, as are portions of the upper level of the walls. A modern wooden bridge [http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/168047] spans the moatbetween the inner and outer ward, and within one tower of the inner gatehouse the stairwell has been restored, allowing access to the top of the tower, and a commanding view of the surrounding countryside.
The castle is maintained by
Cadw, and access is controlled during the summer months. The rest of the year the castle is an open site, and may be visited at any reasonable time of day. White Castle is located 1 milenorth of the village of Llantilio Crossenny, along the B4233 between Monmouthand Abergavenny.
Three Castles Walk
*Davies, R.R. "Lordship and Society in the March of Wales 1282-1400" (Oxford, 1978)
*Davies, R.R. "Conquest, Coexistence and Change: Wales 1063-1415" (Oxford, 1987); reprinted in paperback as, "The Age of Conquest: Wales 1063-1415" (Oxford 1991)
*Knight, Jeremy K. “The Road to Harlech: Aspects of Some Early Thirteenth-Century Welsh Castles”, in J.R. Kenyon and R. Avent, eds. "Castles in Wales and the Marches" (Cardiff, 1987), pp. 75-88
*Knight, Jeremy K. "The Three Castles" (Cadw, 2000)
*Renn, D.F. “Round Keeps of the Brecon Region”, "Archaeologica Cambrensis", 110 (1961), pp. 129-43
*Roderick, A.J. and Rees, W., “The Lordships of Abergavenny, Grosmont, Skenfrith and White Castle: Accounts of the Ministers for the year 1256-57”, "South Wales and Monmouth Record Society Publications", 2 (1953), pp. 68-125; 3 (1954), pp. 22-47
*Radford, C.A.R., "White Castle" (HMSO 1962)
*Remfry, P.M., "White Castle, 1066 to 1438" (ISBN 1-899376-42-9)
* [http://www.castlewales.com/white.html Castles of Wales]
* [http://www.cadw.wales.gov.uk/default.asp?id=6&PlaceID=142 Cadw – White Castle]
* [http://www.castles99.ukprint.com/Essays/trilateral.html Anglo-Norman Castles]
* [http://www.gtj.org.uk/item.php?lang=en&id=222&t=1 Aerial photo of the castle]
* [http://www.geograph.org.uk/search.php?i=3601143 photos of White Castle and surrounding area on geograph]
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
Look at other dictionaries:
White Castle — can refer to different things:* White Castle (restaurant), a U.S. chain of hamburger restaurants * The White Castle, East Lothian, once a hill fort in the Lammermuir Hills, East Lothian, Scotland, a district today known as Nunraw * White Castle… … Wikipedia
White Castle, East Lothian — This article is about the hillfort in Scotland. For other uses, see White Castle (disambiguation). Whitecastle was originally a hillfort in East Lothian, Scotland, situated on the edge of the Lammermuir Hills, two miles south of the village of… … Wikipedia
Wales — • Located in the western portion of Great Britain Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Wales Wales † … Catholic encyclopedia
Wales — This article is about the country. For other uses, see Wales (disambiguation) … Wikipedia
Castle — This article is about medieval fortifications. For other uses, see Castle (disambiguation). For a list of all castles, see List of castles. For similar but unrelated structures in Japan, see Japanese castle … Wikipedia
Castle Hill, New South Wales — Infobox Australian Place | type = suburb name = Castle Hill city = Sydney state = nsw caption = lga = Baulkham Hills Shire Hornsby Shire postcode = 2154 pop = 35,386 (2006 census) area = est = 1802 propval = stategov = Baulkham Hills Castle Hill… … Wikipedia
Wales national rugby union team — Rugby team country = Wales union = Welsh Rugby Union emblem = the Prince of Wales s feathers ground = Millennium Stadium, Cardiff captain = Ryan Jones coach = flagicon|NZL Warren Gatland from = 2007 caps = Gareth Thomas (100) top scorer = Neil… … Wikipedia
Monmouth Castle — Ruins of the Great Tower, Monmouth Castle Coordinates … Wikipedia
Skenfrith Castle — (Welsh: Ynysgynwraidd ) is a medieval castle located in Monmouthshire, Wales. The castle is the centre of the village of Skenfrith, located on the banks of the river Monnow, just five miles to the north of the town of Monmouth. The first defences … Wikipedia
Grosmont Castle — is a ruined castle in Grosmont, Monmouthshire very near the present English / Welsh border, approximately 8 miles northeast of Abergavenny, between Abergavenny, Hereford and Monmouth. Grosmont CastleGrosmont Castle would seem to have been founded … Wikipedia