Wednesday, 18 June 2008

History of Carew Castle

Click on photo to enlarge.

This will have to be a brief, potted history as I have a list of things to do today a mile long!

Its position on the side of the river (a tidal creek) is due partly to a strategic ridge of higher ground and partly to it being near a part of the river where it was fordable at low tide (there is now a causeway stretching across the river from the tidal mill in fact. I intend to walk that "next time".

Legend has it that Carew was founded by Gerald of Windsor, Constable of Pembroke Castle. He married Nest, who was a daughter of Rhys ap Tewdwr. (Think anglicised "Tudor" here . . .) She was the grandmother of Giraldus Cambrensis, father of Welsh history. The original castle has long since disappeared and the medieval parts of the remaining castle date to around 1280 - 1310, built for Sir Nicholas de Carew. His grandson sold Carew to Sir Rhys ap Thomas, a warrior Lord who joined Henry of Richmond (Harri Tudur) when he landed at nearby Dale, and accompanied him to the Battle of Bosworth (1485) where Harri Tudur defeated Richard III and himself became Henry VII, first of the Tudor monarchs. Our own house played a part in this history, because the Griffiths, who lived here then (and were High Sheriffs of Carmarthen in the early Elizabethan period) sent a son to be Esquire to the Body of Henry VII. Friends in high places springs to mind . . .

There was a grand tournament at Carew in 1507, in celebration of the Tudors, but Sir Rhys's grandson was beheaded 25 years later and the castle seized by Henry VIII. The grand new wing with the enormous windows was built by Sir John Perrott in the 16th C, who had aquired it by that time, but he too fell from favour and was imprisoned in the Tower of London, where he died before he was beheaded.

Local legend tells a bizarre story of Sir Roland Rhys, tenant of the castle in Jacobean times, setting his tame ape on a local Flemish merchant because his daughter had eloped with Roland's son. However, the ape later attacked his owner, and the castle set on fire! During the Civil War damage was caused when attacking forces dug a mineshaft under one side of the castle.

Many thanks to "Castles in Wales" a book which has been well-thumbed during our years here.

No comments: