Raglan Castle

Raglan Castle

Last updated: 23 November 2010

Raglan Castle, a magnificent Tudor-period sandstone structure, was not built specifically as a defence as the other great castles of Wales had been. Instead, it was designed mainly as a statement of wealth and influence.

A manor had existed on the site before William ap Thomas acquired the property through marriage in 1406. A veteran of Agincourt in 1415, ap Thomas enjoyed the favour of King Henry VI and was knighted in 1426. He wanted to demonstrate his upwardly-mobile status, so set out on an ambitious building plan for Raglan.

In 1435 he began work on the Great Tower, also known as the Yellow Tower of Gwent, but he was never to see it completed, as ap Thomas died in 1445. The building work was continued by his son, William, who took the surname Herbert.

Herbert continued his father's building work, drawing on continental influences common to veterans of the French wars. The building was complex and stylish - and the polygonal structures used can still be seen today. Herbert supported the Yorkist cause in the Wars of the Roses, and was made Lord Herbert of Raglan by King Edward IV in 1461, then Earl of Pembroke.

His rising fortunes were reflected in Raglan Castle as more sumptuous building works were added. When Herbert was defeated at the battle of Edgecote in 1469, he was beheaded and the castle went between families during the Tudor period depending on the ruling family's factions and fortunes.

Each occupant of the castle added to or altered the structure until the Civil War when it rallied to the Royalist cause. In 1646, it began to come under siege from Parliamentary forces, one of the longest of the war. Like other Welsh castles that had been Royalist fortresses, Cromwell ordered Raglan to be destroyed.

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