Conway Castle

Conway castle is set beyond the Afon Conwy against the mountains of Snowdonia and replaced the earlier 'castle' of Aberconwy which lay near Aberconwy abbey.  Work on the castle began in 1283 and was finished in 1287, having taken a little over four years to complete - the town and castle being built as a single entity in the aftermath of the occupation of the principality of Gwynedd.  Master James St George was employed here in his mason's role, but not as some great genius castle architect as has been claimed.  By 1332 the castle was deemed unfit to accommodate the king and as a consequence major repair works were put in place by 1347, with a remodelled hall range and royal apartments.  King Richard II later took refuge in the castle in 1399 and in 1401 the castle was captured by supporters of Owain Glyndwr.  Conway again saw military action during the Civil War and Archbishop John Williams held the castle for King Charles I until removed by his own side.  The castle and town walls remained virtually intact and from the 18th century began to attract the interests of topographical artists and tourists.

The castle was designed as two adjoining wards with eight powerful towers that could all be defended separately.  In effect these were two independent castles, entered from each end and joined by a central crosswall with gatehouse and ditch.  Four of the towers were designed to carry turrets and these surrounded the inner ward which housed the royal apartments.  These medieval chambers remain largely unaltered from their thirteenth century form. The outer ward housed the great hall, kitchens, stables and a prison. Both inner and outer ward could be entered independently via the west barbican within the town and the east one via the river.

For more detailed descriptions of the castle see Archaeologia Cambrensis:

Why not join me at Conway and other British castles this October?  Please see the information on tours at Scholarly Sojourns.


Copyright©2016 Paul Martin Remfry