In a nutshell, Swansea Castle is a stunning example of Edwardian medieval architecture, perched atop an outcrop overlooking the River Tawe with sweeping views towards Swansea Bay and the Gower Peninsular beyond.
Established as one of three Norman castles built by Earl William de Braose to control west Wales in 11th century, Swansea Castle has been transformed over centuries from a fortress to a family home to a manor house and now into an idyllic country house and hotel for all the family to enjoy today.
Swansea Castle was built to replace an earlier structure on the same site, first recorded in 1088, which was destroyed during the Welsh Revolt of 1315. Almost immediately it became a major administrative centre for the Lordship of Gower and served as key military centre during the Wars of The Roses.
In 1403 Owain Glyndŵr attacked the castle and burned it down, along with four other castles in the area. It fell into disuse and ruins before being rebuilt from 1468 onwards by local historian John Margam, who added towers at each corner of a stone curtain wall and installed a new gatehouse at the eastern end of what is now Castle Street in commemoration of his son Thomas.
By 1725 the Castle had fallen into a state of disrepair and the castle and manor passed out of the hands of the Margam family after nearly four centuries. It was bought by local businessman Samuel Trotman and later sold to businessman John Scandrett Harford. By 1841 it was being used as a farmhouse and school house, while much of its stone had been quarried for use in buildings around Swansea.
Following a period when it was used as an orphanage, Swansea Castle returned to private ownership again in 1864 when it was bought by local solicitor Charles Parsons Gwynne. It remained in his family until 1910 when it was sold to Swansea Corporation for £2,900.
Purchased by Swansea Council as a “civic open air museum”, it was extensively restored between 1919 and 1922 and a new gatehouse designed by architect Sir Herbert Baker added in 1925. During the Second World War it was used as a headquarters for Home Guard units before opening its doors to visitors in 1948.
Today Swansea Castle is once again the private residence of the Lord Mayor of Swansea alongside his wife and family.
The history of Swansea Castle is said to be as long and varied as the city itself, and if you’re looking for the full story on the fascinating development of this beautiful and iconic building you’ll want to head over to Swansea Museum. At Swansea Castle you will enjoy the stunning location, the friendly staff and the superb facilities that make it a perfect place to visit.
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