Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Pembroke Castle (Part 1)

I love days out. I think it might be because I work in an office and my view consists of the building opposite. If I lean forward then I can make out a small patch of sky and I can tell if it's a nice day from the colour of this and if the sun is blinding me by reflecting off the windows opposite me. So if there is a lovely day then I just want to get out and about in the sun and see things. This time I went to Pembroke Castle and I took my camera with me as usual to try out things, and as promised I thought I'd share some of my photo's with you. The first pic is of the castle as seen from the other side of the river which surrounds one side of the castle. The river was once tidal and went up to the castle walls. The castle itself is built over a large natural cavern called Wogan's Cavern which used to flood and boats could land supplies under the castle.

Pembroke Castle is the largest privately owned castle in Wales and is situated in South West Wales in the centre of the town of Pembroke (see a theme there?). It was first established in 1093 by Roger of Montgomery, when the Norman Conquest of Wales was far from complete and stood firm against Welsh counter-attacks. Pembroke's strategic importance soon increased, as it was from here that the Normans embarked upon their Irish campaigns. In 1189 the castle came into the hands of William Marshal, who transformed the earth-and-timber castle into a mighty stone fortification. First to be built was the inner ward with its round keep which is shown in the photo above.

The photo above is of the main gatehouse which is still the entrance to the castle. As you walk through it you can still get a feel for how hard the castle would have been to attack. You can still clearly see evidence of two portcullises, stout doors, three machicolations, or murder holes, in the vaulting and a series of arrowslits. The gatehouse is now home to exhibitions detailing some of the history of the castle. During the 13th century the castle was expanded and defences were added to the outer ward.

The photos above and below were taken from one of the towers in the outer wall. I could see for miles around me so it was obviously an advantage for spotting enemy forces approaching. In the pic below you can see another of the towers and part of the wall walk. In 1405 Francis Court was hastily given munitions to hold the castle against Owain Glyndwr's uprising and the castle later passed into the hands of Jasper Tewdwr, Earl of Pembroke, and was apparently the birthplace of his nephew Henry, later King Henry VII.

As ever, I explored everywhere I could. I walked along the walls, climbed the towers and looked into every nook and cranny I could find. One place I had to see, but wouldn't have wanted to spend too much time was the Dungeon Tower which is in the photo below. Inside it was dank, cold and dark and I got that impression that this wasn't just because the castle had fallen into ruin as the main hall and living quarters would have been quite sumptuous with warm fires, tapestries and furnishings.

I learnt that Pembroke Castle became ruined during the Civil War. Pembroke declared its support for Parliament at the beginning of the Civil War, but in 1648 the town's mayor, John Poyer disgruntled at his lack of reward, joined a disaffected group of Roundheads unwilling to be demobilized. Apparently Cromwell himself came to besiege the castle which only fell after seven weeks when the water supply was cut off and a train of siege cannon arrived to start a bombardment. After this defiance, Cromwell blew up the barbican and the fronts of all the towers to prevent the castle ever again being used militarily. The castle fell into ruin and much restoration work was done in the 19th and 20th centuries and now the castle is run by a private charitable trust.

This last photo was taken from the top of the keep. In the foreground you can see the inner ward with Pembroke and the river in the background. Standing on top of the keep I wondered about all that this ancient building had witnessed over the centuries - the people that had lived there, the battles that had been fought adn the changes to Pembroke town outside it's walls. If only stone could speak...


23 comments:

Ramona said...

How fortunate you are to be able to live near and visit a place with so much history! Your photos are beautiful I like the reflection of the castle in the first one. When I see pictures like these of castles, I can't help but wonder what life must have been like back then. How long did it take to build such a place? Who built it? How many people? Who lived there? Who worked there? And the questions go on and on...It is truly a place one can fantasize about

kenju said...

How fascinating! My experience with castles is slim to none...LOL
I saw a few in Italy and France last year, but it is really nice to "tour" one with you!

Ps said...

Wow! What beautiful,beautiful pictures.I will surely be showing these to my children today.They love reading 'famous five'--and your pictures somehow remind me of the desciption in those books.Lovely,bob-kat.

rashbre said...

These are some fine photos of the castle. I parrticularly like the one of the steps with all of the texture. This castle seems to be in pretty good shape too!

A great shared day out!

Here today via Michele!

rashbre

Sarch said...

Wow....amazing. Absolutely beautiful.

I have to go to work but you can bet I'll be back to gaze at these photos some more Bobkat.

Thanks!

Indigo said...

Hello, Michele sent me.

The castle is gorgeous! As an American who has never been to Europe, so I've yet to see a castle in person I found this very interesting. Especially seeing all the homes in the background. LOL! That was great. :-)

mar said...

What a fascinating castle!!! If I could only walk around it and meet Richard Gere the way he looked in "First Knight"...*sigh*

fifenhorn said...

How BEAUTIFUL! I wish I could have seen more of the UK when I visited, but I had a whirlwind 3 day tour of London with 2 kids - I never even made it to Harrod's, and we got "politely" kicked out of Westminster Abbey when my son threw a tantrum - that was a HUGE expenditure....

Thank you for visiting my blog...I would gladly make you a colorful hat if you wanted!

utenzi said...

In a way stone can talk, at least through your photos, Bob-kat. And you're a wonderful translator. I hear quite a few tales, good and bad, from that stacked stone.

The pictures are wonderful and the castle amazing, B-K. Thanks for sharing them. It's amazing that people could create castles like that with manual labor when the highest technology was using pulleys.

Michele sent me.

Janet said...

Oh, such gorgeous pictures! I love castles :-)

hi, Michele sent me!

Moogie said...

These pictures are absolutely amazing. I think the first one is my favorite but it kind of felt like I was right there with you when you were telling the story. Again, these are great shots!

Pat said...

Great pictures. Wales has fantastic castles but not always fantastic weather. You were lucky!

pat said...

My memory!!!!!
Michele sent me.

diyadear said...

hey the pictures r beautiful.. feels like ur in a fairy tale!!

srp said...

It really must be nice to live where castles still exist. I know the castle (schloss) in Salzburg is beautiful, but dank and would be impossible to keep warm in the winter. This castle is still privately owned? And yet open for anyone to explore? How great!

Wordnerd said...

OH, wow! Incredible! You are really lucky to have all these wonderful and historic sites nearby! I love castles -- so glad you shared yours with us!
Here from Michele's!

kenju said...

Michele sent me back to see your castle again, Bob-kat,and I am looking forward to part 2.

David said...

thank you for the fabulous tour!

margalit said...

What a beautiful castle. I showed my son, who is a big fan of knights and castles from way back, and he was all like "Whoa, can I have it?" Ummm, no!

Lovely photos, great composition, good colors, and nice interesting subjects. Great Job, BobKat.

Here from Michele.

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

FABULOUS, Bob-Kat...Just fabulous! THese pictures are extraordinary, and I was thinking exactly what you exprpressed at the end of your post. If these walls could share what they have seen and heard of the centuries...How many people died there? Were born there? Fell in love there? Fought horrendous battles and were wounded and maimed there....? I am in such awe of the History of Great Britain...Wales, Scotland, Ireland, and England....the Honorimg of this history...THATis awesome, too. More, my dear....MORE, Please....! (lol)

chase said...

It truly looks wonderful. I always like to explore those types of castles. Learn their history and such.

Nikki-ann said...

I love days out too! I must make it down to Pembroke Castle one day as I've never been. I hope you're enjoying the weekend. Take care :)

Melody said...

Simply beautiful phots BK. The richness of the blue sky mixed with such green grass and grey stones - magnificent.