Tenby is a town in Pembrokeshire, South Wales. It has natural harbour and holds a yearly medieval festival at the beginning of August every year. Near Tenby, there are many castles. This article will describe all of them and briefly explain their history and what they look like today.
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The main castle in Tenby is of course Tenby Castle. It has a long, rich history and was home of many important people like the Dukes of Leeds, Earls of Pembroke, Lord John Russell (PM of Britain) and more recently Prince Edward. The exterior parts of this castle are made out of limestone but there are some walls of the keep made of flint. This would suggest that the keep was built first then limestone was brought in to create walling around it. There are also some older parts like the Norman west gate and undercroft which is made out of small stones (smaller than cobbles) with larger stones set on top.
Main castle: built in 1150s
Keep: built in 1150s
Location: west of Tenby town centre
Another of the popular Castles near Tenby is Manorbier castle. This was home to the de Barri family, an important Norman family. It later became the main estate of the lordship of Manorbier and Penally. There is a fish pond which surrounds three sides of the castle. It is said that it was dug by Robert Fitz Martin during his occupation of the castle in the late 13th century. This pond would have allowed fishing, water collection and prevented entry into the castle on three sides.
Main building: 12th-13th century
Location: south east of Tenby, just off main road to Tenby
Pembroke castle was built by Arnulph de Montgomery, a Norman Lord. The square tower was a product of the late 13th century and some other works took place in the 14th century. In 1204, King John gave the castle to William Marshal who expanded it from a wooden keep into a stone castle. It has been attacked many times during its history and the most severe damage was in 1457 when it was attacked during the Wars of the Roses.
Pembroke Castle is one of the largest and most exciting castles near Tenby to visit.
Main building: built between 11th and 15th centuries
Location: north west of Tenby, just off main road to Tenby
Carew Castle and Tidal Mill
This is one of three tidal mills (tidal because it was powered by the ebbing and flowing waves of the sea) along with Eastgate Mill in Pembrokeshire Coast National Park. It was built on the Carew River which flows into Milford Haven at Carew Castle. The tidal mill had two huge gates for letting through water to turn it’s massive water wheel which crushed corn and powered other machinery.
Main building: built in early 14th century
Tidal mill: late 12th or early 13th century
Location: nearby Carew Castle, just off main road to Tenby
This is a relatively new castle as it was built around 1908 for Lord Davies who had bought land from the Earl of Pembroke. It is built on the cliffs overlooking the sea and was used as a summer home by Davies until his death in 1934. His son appears to have lived there for some time before letting it become dilapidated. The castle has since been restored but it is still exposed to the Atlantic storms which are responsible for much of its decay.
Main building: 20th century
Location: west of Carew Castle, just off main road to Tenby
This is a small fortified manor house which was built in the Middle Ages but has been much added to since then. It started life as a possession for the bishops of St Davids but was given to Sir John Perrot (Elizabeth 1’s Lord Deputy for Ireland) during the 16th century. It passed through various hands and was converted into a farmhouse, although it is now once again a private home.
Main building: 14th-16th century
Location: north of Narbeth village
Built in the late 19th century by Thomas Powell who was a friend of John Douglas. The castle went through various hands before being brought by Dr William Griffiths in the 1960s. He let it fall into disrepair and allowed his animals to live inside which caused much damage to the interior of the building. It is now owned by Charles and Carol Rumney who are restoring it.
Main building: 19th century
Location: east of the castle, in the valley below
This is one of two castles in Pembrokeshire that appear to be English rather than Welsh. It was built by John de Camville, a follower of William Marshal. It was attacked by Llywelyn the Great but not as badly as Pembroke Castle as it was on a rock outcrop which prevented attackers from staying long enough to do much damage. In 1584, Sir John Perrot retired here and he had two lodges built within the castle.
Main building: 12th-13th century
Location: adjoing Carew, just off main road to Tenby
Picton Castle and Gardens
The castle has been used by many famous people throughout it’s history. The first site was owned by the Vaughan family who were Welsh Marcher lords. When Owain Glyndwr led the Welsh against the English, they were taken prisoner. It was then given to Sir John Cornwaille who passed it onto King Henry V of England. He built the first castle which included a stone curtain wall, towers and a gatehouse.
Location: south west of Pembroke, just off main road to Tenby
This is one of the finest castles in Pembrokeshire. It was built by William de Valence, half brother to Henry III after he became part of the Peerage of England in 1296. The castle has two shell keeps surrounding a central courtyard with an outer ward facing away from the sea. There are many fine windows and fireplaces and a grand hall which was added in 1330.
Main building: 12th-14th century
Location: east of Pembroke, off A40 or B4320 to Haverfordwest and then east of main road
This is one of three castles, along with Strancally and Laugharne, that were built by William de Braose in the Welsh Marches. It is made up of two towers joined together by a keep with an archway in between them. The castle was attacked and captured several times over the years but saw most action during the English civil war when it changed hands many times.
Main building: 13th century
Location: south west of Llansteffan village
The castle sits on a large outcrop of rock and was probably built by the Earl of Pembroke when he held the title in the 12th century. He used it to try and control traffic around Land’s End, but Edward I took the title in 1290 when he began building castles like Carew and Tenby. The Earl of Pembroke recaptured the castle in 1326 when it was used to control traffic until 1408 when Jasper Tudor gave it to his third son, Henry.
Main building: 15th century
Location: south west of St Clears
St Clears Castle
This is a Grade 1 listed building. It has been used as a guest house for many years and the current owners run it as such.
Main building: 15th century
Location: off main road through St Clear’s village, south of Haverfordwest
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