This week’s theme is U – for Undulations.
For Thursday, we are at Raglan Castle, in Wales.
Dating back to Norman times (1100 or so), the majority of this castle’s construction came in the 1400 through to the mid 1600s.
It was a perfect example of ‘conspicuous consumption’ – this castle was both a defensive fort, and a grand home for the Herbert family. It was surrounded by the wilds of Wales, but it also featured carefully curated gardens designed to contrast with the wilderness – as if to demonstrate the wealth and opulence of the Manor’s lord.
Unfortunately, the owners were royalists – and hence on the losing side in the civil war of the middle of the 17th century.
When we visited, we bought a guidebook from Cadw, the Welsh ‘heritage’ body – and it observes that the castle was built for show rather than with battle in mind but it still held off parliamentarian forces for thirteen weeks in one of the last sieges of the Civil War.
The castle was eventually taken and was systematically destroyed by parliament – the official term is ‘slighted’, meaning to do enough damage that it could no longer be used as a military site.
But enough remains to impress – and there is a fascinating tower that remains, complete with the Welsh standard flapping in the breeze.
It’s known as the Yellow Tower of Gwent, and that’s where we took this picture from, looking across the Castle proper to the rolling hills of Monmouthshire.
Built on the motte, or mound, of the original 12th century castle this hexagonal tower is surrounded by its own moat – and was meant as a last-chance defensible position for the castle’s owners.
Not that it helped them .. they were forced to surrender in the final battle. But the tower remains (albeit missing part of one wall) and gives a spectacular view.