I love a good castle and am delighted to tell you that Pembroke Castle in Wales is a very good castle indeed! In fact, it’s one of the best we’ve ever visited, and probably the only one which you come upon simply by walking along a High Street. Here’s why you should visit too.
Pembroke is a magnificently preserved medieval building. The first castle at the site was built way back in 1093, during the Norman invasion of Wales. A century later it was given to William Marshal, later to become one of the most powerful men in the kingdom, as a faithful supporter of Henry II, Richard I and John and adviser on the Magna Carta. If you haven’t heard of him before, you really should have!
We were told about Marshal by our wonderful guide, Gareth, a retired history teacher, who really brought history alive. He was absolutely fabulous and I would definitely recommend taking a guided tour if you visit the castle. We learnt so much – and everyone, of all ages, was enthralled.
Gareth told us all about the brilliant positioning of the castle, with water on three sides. This means it is much easier to defend than many other similar buildings. In addition, the gatehouse is a marvel, and invaders would find it almost impossible to get through – they’d have to survive the murder and spear holes first! The outer wall is also five metres thick.
It was William Marshal who turned the castle into such an impressive Norman stone building. The Earl Marshal was also responsible for the magnificent keep with its innovative stone roof (wooden roofs risked being set on fire). The keep is nearly 80 feet high and the walls are six metres thick at its base.
Gareth told us so much about the castle’s history, about the dungeons and the cave, called Wogan’s Cavern, which could be used for provisions, and which we visited, going down the 55 step spiral staircase.
The castle is lovely to walk around – you can amble along the ramparts or climb to the top of the keep and other parts of it too, enjoying some terrific views. It doesn’t look that big from the outside, but inside there is so much space
In one of the towers there is also a display recreating the birth of Henry Tudor, later to become Henry VII, in 1457. This was the man who founded one of the most famous of all dynasties. Gareth had a fascinating tale about all this, including his views on Henry’s mother, Margaret Beaufort, who he thinks may well have been responsible for the disappearance of the Princes in the Tower.
We would highly recommend a visit here, and especially a tour, but do be aware that, if you want to go up to the top of the keep, or down to the cave, you will encounter a lot of steep steps.
Pembroke Castle has so much to offer and we felt we could have spent longer there. We would have liked to have looked in detail at some of the exhibits on show and explored more, but there was so much to do on our trip to Pembrokeshire, that we just didn’t have time…..
Pembroke Castle is open daily. Tours take place three times a day during June, July and August, at 11am, 1pm and 3pm. During September and October, they are twice a day, at 11.30 and 1.45pm and during November, December, January and February once a day from noon.
Tours are included in the price of admission, which is £6.60 per adult, £5.50 per child (with under threes going free).
There is so much to do in the beautiful area of Pembrokeshire – take a look at Visit Pembrokeshire for more information and read our posts on: