A Couple more Castles..

My last post was about Chepstow Castle.  This post is about another couple of castles, one English and one Welsh.  Goodrich Castle is an English castle whilst Rhaglan, like Chepstow, is a Welsh castle.  All three of these castles sit on the border between the two countries and one can begin to get a inkling that there may have been a great deal of conflict between the two nations in the medieval period and later sadly.

Goodrich Castle is a now ruinous Norman medieval castle situated to the north of the village of Goodrich in Herefordshire, England, controlling a key location between Monmouth and Ross-on-Wye. It was praised by William Wordsworth as the “noblest ruin in Herefordshire” and is considered by historian Adrian Pettifer to be the “most splendid in the county, and one of the best examples of English military architecture”.

Goodrich Castle was probably built by Godric of Mappestone after the Norman invasion of England, initially as an earth and wooden fortification. In the middle of the 12th century the original castle was replaced with a stone keep, and was then expanded significantly during the late 13th century into a concentric structure combining luxurious living quarters with extensive defences. The success of Goodrich’s design influenced many other constructions across England over the following years. It became the seat of the powerful Talbot family before falling out of favour as a residence in late Tudor times.

Held first by Parliamentary and then Royalist forces in the English Civil War of the 1640s, Goodrich was finally successfully besieged by Colonel John Birch in 1646 with the help of the huge “Roaring Meg” mortar, resulting in the subsequent slighting of the castle and its descent into ruin. At the end of the 18th century, however, Goodrich became a noted picturesque ruin and the subject of many paintings and poems; events at the castle provided the inspiration for Wordsworth’s famous 1798 poem “We are Seven”. By the 20th century the site was a well-known tourist location, now owned by English Heritage and open to the public.

Goodrich Castle I35mm f/11 1/250 sec. ISO-100

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Goodrich Castle V35mm f/11 1/125 sec ISO-100

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Raglan Castle is a late medieval castle located just north of the village of Raglan in the county of Monmouthshire in south-east Wales and is probably, bar Eilean Donan Castle in Scotland that I visited a while back, my favourite castle of all that I have visited in recent weeks.  Rhaglan Castle, like the village of Rhaglan has two names, one English – Raglan and one Welsh – Rhaglan.  This seem just a tad bizarre to me so as the castle is in Wales, I’ve gone with the Welsh spelling and included the h.  To see all the signage associated with Rhaglan displaying both spellings seems completely bonkers to me but there you are.

I really liked Rhaglan and like all the heritage sites I have visited in England, Scotland and Wales recently, it is immaculately maintained and preserved. Construction of the castle started about 150 years later than most castles of this type.  Very much a Johnny come Lately and as a result, has some very modern features not found in other castles of this type.  Huge bay windows is one example.

The modern castle dates from between the 15th and early 17th centuries, when the successive ruling families of the Herberts and the Somersets created a luxurious, fortified castle, complete with a large hexagonal keep, known as the Great Tower or the Yellow Tower of Gwent. Surrounded by parkland, water gardens and terraces, the castle was considered by contemporaries to be the equal of any other in England or Wales.

During the English Civil War the castle was held on behalf of Charles I and was taken by Parliamentary forces in 1646. In the aftermath, the castle was slighted, or deliberately put beyond military use; after the restoration of Charles II, the Somersets declined to restore the castle. Parts of the castle were then carried off and used to build local houses and this accounts for the castle missing huge chunks of stone.  The castle then became a romantic ruin, and is now a modern tourist attraction protected and superbly maintained by Welsh Heritage.

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Rhaglan Castle35mm  f/8 1/320 sec. ISO-100

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52 responses

  1. Okay, now you’re just flaunting your castle-glut, throwing it in the face of us poor castle-less folks.

    . . . still good photos, though.

    May 6, 2015 at 5:38 pm

    • :-D lol.. Thanks Emilio. I guess it could be considered showing off a little. I just seem to have been to an awful lot of castles lately. They keep cropping up! :-)

      May 6, 2015 at 6:04 pm

  2. Sue

    Some great images, Adrian- I love castles. Been to most of the Welsh castles, and those on the borders years ago. But I don’t recall Rhaglan….which looks well worth a visit. I’m just off to see your post on Chepstow…

    May 6, 2015 at 5:55 pm

    • Hi Sue! Thank you. Rhaglan is a little tucked away I suppose. We only discovered it because I took a wrong turn and we found ourselves on the A449 towards Newport when it was the A40 towards Abergavenny we wanted. The first opportunity to turn around took us past Rhaglan. Seeing the sign for a castle we thought why not, lets go and take a look. I’m very glad we did.
      Seeing the rape field from the castle, I knew I wanted a photo of the castle with the rape field in the foreground so when we were finished looking around, we went hunting a found a farm track that took us just where I wanted to be for the final photo. :-)

      May 6, 2015 at 6:12 pm

      • Sue

        Excellent! I’m all for serendipity…

        May 6, 2015 at 6:46 pm

      • :-)

        May 6, 2015 at 7:56 pm

  3. poppytump

    It’s easy to forget how much is preserved of our history like this unless time is taken to visit such ancient monuments ChillB , your visit was an excellent time to reconnect with it all .
    Love that view through the yellow oilseed rape field … and the tower reflections in the moat … oh and of course the perfect timing needed to capture flag flying …. Lol wondered what you were up to ;-)

    May 6, 2015 at 10:03 pm

    • Thank you Poppy! It took me ages and quite a lot of pictures to get the flag flying as it is. You wait for the wind to take it out straight and by the time you’ve pressed the shutter it’s all flat and twisted again.. it’s a case of anticipating the unfurling and hoping you’ll get lucky, which I did, eventually, having only filled half a memory card with near misses! :-D
      I hadn’t visited castles like this since primary school and it really was lovely to get a real sense of the history, sitting there amongst the ruins, thinking about how it all must have been all those years ago. :-)

      May 6, 2015 at 10:22 pm

  4. Fabulous,so much different castles.
    Great photo’s Chillibrook

    May 6, 2015 at 10:39 pm

    • Thank you very much as always Lou! :-)

      May 8, 2015 at 7:43 pm

  5. Your final photo shows everything that is so wonderful about this part of the countryside. And I am ashamed to say I have been to neither of these castles! I have promised myself that I will go to visit Monmouth, so I shall add these to the list. Probably won’t manage all of them in one day, but they are only about an hour away from here so I will make the effort.

    May 6, 2015 at 11:05 pm

    • Thank you Jude! It is very beautiful countryside. I think when we live close to attractions like this, we tend to take them for granted a little I think, they’ll always be there, one day etc. I found this very much living in London. I saw much more when visiting than when I lived there. :-)

      May 8, 2015 at 7:43 pm

  6. Wow, more impressive than I imagined. Why are not their history more known (or maybe they are?)? Very good photography too, of course.

    May 7, 2015 at 12:21 am

    • Thank you very much Bente! We tend to learn medieval history in primary school so at a very basic level and then unless you study history at University, that’s it! I’ve really enjoyed learning a little more! :-)

      May 8, 2015 at 7:40 pm

  7. Great series, and while I like the ruins and hardship the Goodrich castle shows, there is this majestic quality of the shots with Raglan Castle that are incredible. Beautiful work Adrian.

    May 7, 2015 at 12:57 am

    • Thank you so much Randall! :-)

      May 8, 2015 at 7:38 pm

  8. Beautiful old ruins, Adrian.That stained glass window really too me by surprise. :)

    May 7, 2015 at 1:59 am

    • Thanks ever so much Sylvia! The stained glass window took me by surprise too!

      May 8, 2015 at 7:37 pm

  9. justagirl

    Breathtaking photos!!!

    May 7, 2015 at 2:09 am

    • Thank you very much Georgia! :-)

      May 8, 2015 at 7:36 pm

  10. Ahhh Raglan Castle, I know it so well!! My parents live just down the road in Usk, and I’ll be staying with them again in a few weeks so I’ll have to pay it another visit. Fantastic shots as usual…!

    May 7, 2015 at 2:39 am

    • Thank you Michael! I only found the castle making a detour after a wrong turn! I’m so glad I did. :-)

      May 8, 2015 at 7:36 pm

  11. fascinating views

    May 7, 2015 at 6:28 am

    • Thank you Shimon! A lot of history! :-)

      May 8, 2015 at 7:35 pm

  12. Wonderful photos, especially as I have visited the Rhaglan castle when I was a kid and living in the UK. A wonderful place this.

    May 7, 2015 at 7:53 am

    • Thank you! It is a wonderful place! :-)

      May 8, 2015 at 7:34 pm

  13. Raglan Castle is quite charming and the castle looks huge ! Ah… so many castles to visit !

    May 7, 2015 at 9:06 am

    • There are so many! Rhaglan is great though! :-)

      May 8, 2015 at 7:34 pm

  14. Wonderful shots Adrian. I love that stained glass window.

    May 7, 2015 at 12:22 pm

    • Thank you very much Edith! :-)

      May 8, 2015 at 7:33 pm

  15. I love the Welsh castle. Awesome pics :-)

    May 7, 2015 at 1:58 pm

    • It is beautiful! Thanks for your comment! :-)

      May 8, 2015 at 7:33 pm

  16. zadziwia wielkość budowli i piękno tkwiące nawet w ruinach …

    May 7, 2015 at 5:35 pm

    • Ruiny są często bardzo piękne myślę i fotografii bardzo dobrze. Dziękujemy za Twój komentarz! :-)

      May 8, 2015 at 7:30 pm

  17. Love that last shot Adrian. Rhaglan looks fascinating…and I love those buildings that clearly developed over time by adding a bit here and changing a bit there, the results are often unique and quirky. It also charts the change of use from medieval fortress to Tudor/Stuart fortified palace….by tracking the architectural changes you reveal a lot about the socio-economic climate of the time.

    May 7, 2015 at 6:09 pm

    • Thank you Mark! Rhaglan was particularly interesting to visit because of all the things you point out. Highly recommend a look id you’re down that way..! :-)

      May 8, 2015 at 7:27 pm

  18. Love the last one with the castle in its setting.

    May 7, 2015 at 6:13 pm

    • Thank you very much Bunty! :-)

      May 8, 2015 at 7:25 pm

  19. They all look a bit drafty to me. Seriously great shots, though!

    May 8, 2015 at 8:24 pm

    • Thank you Gunta! They must have been terribly cold, drafty places in which to live I’d imagine. The walls would have been adorned with tapestries and there would have been very large fireplaces in the royal appartments I suppose but even then with those high ceilings it might have been a tad drafty as you say. The kitchens would have been nice and warm I’m sure but I don’t think life would have been too comfortable for most back then. :-)

      May 8, 2015 at 9:05 pm

  20. Oh the stories they inspire, don’t you think Adrian? It seems unfair for you to have so many while we have none! Beautifully done.

    May 11, 2015 at 3:43 am

    • Thank you Tina. These castles represent a heritage to be very proud of I think Tina and English Heritage along with their Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish counterparts do an excellent job of preserving it! :-)

      May 14, 2015 at 5:24 pm

  21. The history that literally oozes from the walls of our ruins is just fabulous and you’re doing a wonderful job of promoting our heritage – keep up the good work!

    May 11, 2015 at 9:15 am

    • Thank you so much Noeline. It’s a very rich heritage indeed. I hadn’t visited a castle since primary school which I now realise is very remiss of me. It’s been fabulous visiting these old ruins and re-learning some of our early history! :-)

      May 14, 2015 at 5:21 pm

  22. I never made it to your part of Europe when I was a child and younger adult, but I did spend several years in Germany and loved seeing the old castles in that country…many in ruins and a few that were still in good form after many centuries. Wonderful photos, Adrian. :)

    May 11, 2015 at 1:48 pm

    • Thank you Scott! I’ve really enjoyed being a bit of a tourist again in my own country. Visiting these old castles is something we generally do as children, taken on school trips or by our parents. I hadn’t visited a castle for years and it’s been great to get re-aquainted with some of our early history! :-)

      May 14, 2015 at 5:20 pm

  23. A very impressive pair of castles, neither of which were known to me – I really should get out more. Beautifully photographed, Adrian

    May 24, 2015 at 8:01 am

    • Thank you very much Andy! These were completely new to me also!

      May 24, 2015 at 10:07 am

  24. Your photos are breathtaking. I pinned the Raglan Castle one on my pinterest page but it is credited to you. Is that ok?

    June 6, 2015 at 12:09 pm

    • That’s absolutely fine. Thanks you very much! :-)

      June 6, 2015 at 12:19 pm

  25. Wow…how beautifull castels…I like to see photos of tis castels…and read about them…

    June 17, 2015 at 2:44 pm

    • Thank you very much! :-)

      June 17, 2015 at 5:25 pm