Raglan is a village in Monmouthshire and the castle is situated nearby. As you leave the car park and head towards the castle you are greated by the view of the castle in the first photo which shows the magnificent main entance and gatehouse. The photo below is a closer shot of the hexagonal gatehouse towers and the detailed stonework at their tops.
The first castle at Raglan was a Norman motte and bailey which survived until the early 15th century when it came into the hands of Sir William ap Thomas, a Welsh knight who had fought at Agincourt (1415). About 1435 he began building the Great Tower, an unusual hexagonal keep, surrounded by its own moat which I will post more about next time.
Sir William's son, William Herbert, Earl of Pembroke, carried on the work and added a great gatehouse and lavish accommodation. Successive generations added to the castle and the last major period of building was carried out by William Somerset, Earl of Worcester (1548-89), who was responsible for improvements to the Great Hall.
Built regardless of cost and sumptuously embellished with carving, the castle became still more splendid under Herbert's Elizabethian descendants, who added a lordly banqueting hall and other fashionable apartments befitting of royalty. Indeed, Raglan Castle was the boyhood home of Henry Tudor, later to become King Henry VII. Hints of this splendor can be seen in the windows, the moulded roof corbels and huge fireplaces which are still evident and an example of this is shown in the photo above. Other notable features of the castle include the Fountain Court, the Pitched Stone Court (photo below), a buttery, pantry, Kitchen Tower, Closet Tower, office wing, South Gate, Chapel and State Apartments.
During the Civil War the castle was held for the king, and in June 1646 came under attack from the Parliamentary forces led by Sir Thomas Fairfax. After suffering heavy bombardment for thirteen weeks, in one of the longest sieges of the war, the castle finally surrendered. The castle was slighted by the victorious Parliamentarians, and after considerable effort they managed to topple two sides of the Great Tower through undermining it. Further damage was caused when the Duke of Beaufort ransacked the castle for fittings for his new home at Badminton, leaving Raglan a derelict ruin with it's sheer size, intricate and lavish design, and the odd remaining embellishment, such as that in the photo below, giving us clues to it's splendid and rich past.
Raglan is a wonderful castle to visit as nearly all of it is open to the public, with just a few parts, such as ruined staircases leading to long since gone upper floors being inaccessible. You can also walk around the outside of the castle to the South Gate and it is from here that you really get a good idea of how formidable a structure it was, with earthen embankments and an outer wall, leading up to the castle itself. The west and south side of the castle is shown in the photo below. Trust me that grassy slope is quite steep!