Top 13 Best Castles in Wales With Beautiful Pictures – Top Welsh Castles

The country of Wales is also known as the Castle Capital of the world. It’s home to nearly 400 castles in various states of ruin with about 100 being used today or restored for visitors. We’ve gone through all the castles we could find and found the best castles worth visiting if you’re planning a trip to Wales.

We’ve gathered the most interesting information from Wikipedia, the coolest pictures we could find, as well as the info on how to visit some of these great buildings yourself.

So, without further ado, here’s our list of the most awesome Castles in Wales.

Hensol Castle

Castle Trivia from Wikipedia:

Hensol Castle is a castellated mansion in the gothic architecture style dating from the late 17th century or early 18th century. It is located north of Clawdd Coch and Tredodridge in the parish of Pendoylan in the Vale of Glamorgan, Wales. It is a Grade 1 listed building.

The Hensol estate dates from at least 1419. It was owned by the Jenkins family in the seventeenth century, and the house was said to have been built by David Jenkins’ great-grandfather, David Tew. The famous judge David Jenkins (1582–1663), the son of “Jenkin Richard of Hensol in the parish of Pendeulwyn” was born at Hensol. He was described in old documents as “Counsellor at Law, and one of the judges of the Western Circuit in the reign of King Charles I”. Judge Jenkins was a man of great force of character and some eccentricity, named “Heart of Oak” and “Pillar of the Law”. Being a staunch royalist, he took an active part against the Parliamentarians, during the Civil War, condemning several to death for activities deemed treasonable. He was captured at either Hereford or Oxford in 1645 and sent to the Tower of London. He refused to kneel at the bar of the House of Commons and was fined £1,000 for his contempt. He was impeached for high treason, and when an act was passed for his trial, he met it with a declaration that he would “die with the Bible under one arm and Magna Carta under the other”. After the restoration of the monarchy under King Charles II, he was liberated in 1656 and returned to his estate in Glamorgan where he subsequently died and was buried at Cowbridge. His wife, Cecil, was daughter of Sir Thomas Aubrey, of Llantrithyd.

In November 1926 he sold the castle and estate of 1,082 acres (4.38 km2) to Glamorgan County Council for the sum of £36,500 for use as a County mental hospital. Part of the estate was divided up into smallholdings. Hensol hospital was opened in July 1930 as a “colony” for 100 men with learning disabilities (“mental defectives” in the terminology of the time). New blocks were built in the grounds in 1935 to accommodate up to 460 men, women and children and in 1937 it was visited by Sir Kingsley Wood, Minister of Health. At that time it housed 343 inmates and the Minister was reported a saying that he hoped to take back to his work in London fresh ideas which one could never obtain from minutes and records. Further building and expansion took place with the advent of the National Health Service in 1948. Latterly in the 20th century, with the move towards community care for people with learning disabilities, the number of patients progressively decreased. In the 1980s the ground floor of the house became a conference centre and, from 1992 to 2002, the upper two stories housed the Wales School of Occupational Therapy .The hospital closed in 2003 and the castle and grounds were bought by local businessman and supporter of sport in Wales, Gerald Leeke, chairman of the Leekes group of companies who had previously built the 145-bed Vale of Glamorgan Hotel, Golf and Spa Resort on adjacent land. Some of the old hospital buildings have been converted in luxury apartments. Hensol Castle was used to film scenes of Whitehall in the 1992 movie Rebecca’s Daughters and scenes set in 10 Downing Street for the BBC television Doctor Who episode “Aliens of London.”

Castle Location: Vale of Glamorgan
Castle Website: Official Website

Chirk Castle

Panorama of Chirk Castle Gate
Creative Commons License photo credit: maz.nu

Castle Trivia from Wikipedia:

Chirk Castle is a castle located at Chirk, Wrexham, Wales.The castle was built in 1295 by Roger Mortimer, 1st Earl of March as part of King Edward I’s chain of fortresses across the north of Wales. It guards the entrance to the Ceiriog Valley. It was the administrative centre for the Marcher Lordship of ChirklandThe castle was bought by Thomas Myddelton in 1595 for £5,000 (approx. £11 million as of 2008). His son, Thomas Myddelton of Chirk Castle was a Parliamentarian during the English Civil War, but became a Royalist during the Cheshire Rising of 1659. Following the Restoration, his son became Sir Thomas Myddelton, 1st Baronet of Chirke.During the 1930s the Castle was home to Thomas Scott-Ellis, 8th Baron Howard de Walden, a prominent patron of the arts and champion of Welsh culture. The Myddelton family resided at Chirk Castle until 2004. Lieutenant-Colonel Ririd Myddleton was an extra equerry to Queen Elizabeth II from 1952 until his death in 1988.The castle is presently in the ownership of the National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty and is open to the public between February and October. The state rooms, towers and dungeons are staffed by well informed guides. The property is also notable for its gardens, with clipped yew hedges, herbaceous borders, rock gardens and terraces and surrounded by 18th century parkland.

Castle Location: Chirk, Wrexham
Castle Website: Official Website

Powis Castle

IMG_8465
Creative Commons License photo credit: Gruban

Castle Trivia from Wikipedia:

Powis Castle  is a medieval castle, fortress and grand country mansion located near the town of Welshpool, in Powys, Mid Wales. The residence of the Earl of Powis, the castle is known for its extensive, attractive formal gardens, terraces, parkland, deerpark and landscaped estate. The property is under the care of the National Trust, who operate it under the name “Powis Castle and Garden.” Queen Victoria visited the castle during her tour through England and Wales in 1832.

Castle Location: Powys, Mid Wales
Castle Website: Official Website

Carew Castle

 

Castle Trivia from Wikipedia:

Carew Castle is a castle in the civil parish of Carew in the Welsh county of Pembrokeshire. The famous Carew family take their name from the place, and still own the castle, although it is leased to the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, which administers the site.

The castle stands on a limestone bluff overlooking the Carew inlet — a part of the tidal estuary that makes up Milford Haven. The site must have been recognised as strategically useful from the earliest times, and recent excavations in the outer ward have discovered multiple defensive walls of an Iron Age fort.

The Norman castle has its origins in a stone keep built by Gerald de Windsor around the year 1100. Gerald was made castellan of Pembroke Castle by Arnulf of Montgomery in the first Norman invasion of Pembrokeshire. He married Nest, princess of Deheubarth around 1095. Nest brought the manor of Carew as part of her dowry, and Gerald cleared the existing fort to build his own castle on Norman lines. The original outer walls were timber, and only the keep was of stone. This still exists in the later structure as the “Old Tower”.

Castle Location: Carew
Castle Website: Official Website

Pembroke Castle

Pembroke Castle
Creative Commons License photo credit: Andrew Last

Castle Trivia from Wikipedia:

Pembroke Castle is a medieval castle in Pembroke, West Wales. The first castle was established in 1093 during the Norman invasion of Wales. However its present appearance owes much to William Marshal, one of the most powerful men in 12th-Century Britain.

Pembroke Castle stands on a site that has been occupied since, at least, the Roman period. Yet its history is one of inheritance and acquisition not wars and sieges.

Pembroke Castle remained in ruins until 1880 when a three-year restoration project was undertaken. Nothing further was done until World War I veteran Major-General Sir Ivor Philipps acquired the castle in 1928 and started an extensive restoration of the castle’s walls, gatehouses and towers. After his death a trust was set up for the castle, jointly managed by the Philipps family and Pembroke Town council. The castle is open to the public. It remains the largest privately-owned castle in Wales.

Castle Location: Pembrokeshire
Castle Website: Official Website

Picton Castle

Castle Trivia from Wikipedia:

Picton Castle is a medieval castle near Haverfordwest in Pembrokeshire, Wales. Originally built at the end of the 13th century by Sir John Wogan and is still inhabited by his descendants, the Philipps family.  The estates, gardens and parkland of Picton Castle was once part of the larger Manor of Wiston, but had became a separate holding, replacing Wiston Castle by the 13th century. Picton Castle began as a motte castle and was reconstructed in stone by the Wogan family during the 13th century. In 1405, French troops supporting Owain Glyndwr attached and held the Castle, and it was seized again during the English Civil War in 1645 by Parliamentary forces.

The Picton Castle estate was acquired by the Phillips family when Sir Thomas ap Philip of Cilsant married Jane, daughter and heiress of Sir Henry Dwnn, of Picton in the 1490s. Sir John Philipps, who inherited the castle in the 15th century, remodelled the building and created a new entrance which remained until the 1820s when a new entrance was designed by Thomas Rowlands (who also designed Slebech Church). The estate remained with the Phillips family until the death of Lord Milford in 1823, when it was inherited by his cousin Richard Grant, who assumed the surname Philipps and was created a Baronet in 1828 and Baron Milford in 1847. His heir was his half-brother, the Reverend James Henry Alexander Philipps (formerly Gwyther), who assumed by royal licence the surname and arms of Philipps. On his death the estate passed to his son-in-law, Charles Edward Gregg Philipps, who was created a Baronet, of Picton, in 1887 (see Philipps Baronets) then to Sir Richard Foley Foley-Philipps, cousin of Sir John Erasmus, and grandson of Charles Edward Gregg Philipps. The estate is now run by the Picton Castle Trust, and the present owner, Jeremy Philipps, lives in a lodge in the grounds.

Castle Location: Pembrokeshire

Castle Website: Official Website

Beaumaris Castle

North Wales - Beaumaris Castle
Creative Commons License photo credit: Vix_B

Castle Trivia from Wikipedia:

Beaumaris Castle, located in Beaumaris, Anglesey, Wales was built as part of King Edward I’s campaign to conquer the north of Wales. It was designed by James of St. George and was begun in 1295, but never completed. Beaumaris has been designated as a World Heritage site.Beaumaris castle was positioned to face the royal llys at Abergwyngregyn on the opposite shore of the Menai Strait and was intended, along with Conwy Castle and Caernarfon Castle at either end of the Menai Strait, to overshadow the Welsh Royal home and centre of resistance in the English forces.

Castle Location: Anglesey

Castle Website: Official Website

Caldicot Castle

Caldicot Castle, Wales
Creative Commons License photo credit: nicksarebi

Castle Trivia from Wikipedia:

Caldicot Castle is an extensive stone medieval castle in the town of Caldicot, Monmouthshire, in southeast Wales. It was at one time a possession of Thomas of Woodstock, a son of King Edward III of England.

From 1885 to 1964, the Cobb family owned the castle. Joseph Cobb’s family remained at the castle after his death and it was his son Geoffrey Wheatley Cobb, and in particular Geoffrey Wheatley’s wife Anna, who continued the work of restoration. Geoffrey Wheatley died in 1931. In 1943, after Anna’s death, the castle passed to Joseph’s grandson, Lieutenant Colonel Geoffrey Cobb. In part to counteract the shortage of housing in Caldicot at the time, Geoffrey and his wife Barbara opened the castle to a succession of young married couples and families, who rented furnished apartments in three of the towers and in parts of the gatehouse. In 1964, Chepstow Rural District Council bought the castle from the Cobb family for £12,000. By then, much council housing was available locally and the tenancies gradually came to an end. The castle, including a small museum, was opened to the public in 1965. After 1967, medieval-style banquets were held there. The castle is reputed to be haunted by a number of ghosts and spirits including a grey lady (who is believed to be Alianore de Bohun), hooded monks, a beggar boy and a mischievous poltergeist. At the centre of the activity is the Gatehouse Banqueting Hall; shadowy figures, as well as moving furniture, has been witnessed in this area. Many people have experienced unusual cold spots, as well as hearing footsteps in vacant parts of the castle. The Castle offers Fright Nights and Ghost Tours to visitors wishing to experience these mysterious goings-on for themselves.

Castle Location: Monmouthshire
Castle Website: Official Website

Chepstow Castle


Creative Commons License photo credit: Aim low, play bass

Castle Trivia from Wikipedia:

Chepstow Castle (Welsh: Cas-gwent), located in Chepstow, Monmouthshire in Wales, on top of cliffs overlooking the River Wye, is the oldest surviving stone fortification in Britain. It was built under the instruction of the Norman Lord William fitzOsbern, soon made Earl of Hereford, from 1067, and was the southernmost of a chain of castles built along the English-Welsh border in the Welsh Marches.

Castle Location: Monmouthshire

Castle Website: A Website

Cardiff Castle

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Creative Commons License photo credit: Patrick Denker

Castle Trivia from Wikipedia:

Cardiff Castle is a medieval castle and Victorian architecture Gothic revival mansion, transformed from a Norman keep erected over a Roman fort in the Castle Quarter of Cardiff, the capital of Wales. The Castle is a Grade I Listed Building.

In 1947, the Bute South Wales estates having all been sold, the castle, and surrounding park, was gifted to the City of Cardiff by the fifth Marquis. It is now a popular tourist attraction, and houses a regimental museum in addition to the ruins of the old castle and the Victorian reconstruction. It sits in the expansive grounds of Bute Park.The castle has hosted a number of rock concerts and performances and has the capacity to accommodate over 10,000 people. Notable concerts include the Stereophonics’s Live at Cardiff Castle in June 1998 and Green Day in 2002. Tom Jones performed here before a large crowd in 2001; it is on DVD, Tom Jones: Live at Cardiff Castle. In 1948 a crowd of 16,000, a record for a British baseball game, watched Wales defeat England in Cardiff Castle grounds. Cardiff Castle plays host to Cardiff University’s Summer Ball each year. It is the site of Wales’ largest Mardi Gras held every August.

Castle Location: Cardiff
Castle Website: Official Website

Bodelwyddan Castle

 

Castle Trivia from Wikipedia:

Bodelwyddan Castle, close to the village of Bodelwyddan, near Rhyl, Denbighshire in Wales, was built around 1460 by the Humphreys family of Anglesey as a manor house. Its most important association was with the Williams-Wynn family, which extended for around 200 years from 1690. It is now a Grade II* Listed Building.

The castle was bought from the Humphreys by Sir William Williams, Speaker in the House of Commons from 1680-1681. The castle which stands today was reconstructed between 1830 and 1852 by Sir John Hay Williams, who employed the architects Joseph Hansom (inventor of the Hansom cab) and Edward Welch to refurbish and extend the house, though the Williams’ family fortunes had started to decline since the 1850s, due to the loss of the main source of income for the estate, lead mining. The castle has been described as one of Hansom’s most ambitious projects, “being wildly dramatic and owing nothing to its predecessors”.

At the same time works were carried out to construct an estate wall and formal gardens.Further refurbishment work was carried out in the 1880s by Sir Herbert, 7th baronet, who inherited Bodelwyddan Castle from his heirless cousin.By the First World War the house had become a recuperation hospital for wounded soldiers. During this time, the grounds of the estate were used by soldiers based at the nearby Kinmel Camp for trench warfare training. Traces of these trenches can still be seen.By 1920, the cost of maintaining the castle and estate had grown too burdensome, and the Williams-Wynn family leased Bodelwyddlan to Lowther College, a girls private school.

In the 1980s, the site was bought by Clwyd County Council with the aim of developing the castle as a visitor attraction. Partnerships were formed with several prominent museums and art galleries, such as the National Portrait Gallery and the Royal Academy of Arts, so that the castle could be used to display objects from these collections. In order to house these items, the interior of the castle was restored by Roderick Gradidge, an expert on Victorian architecture.Part of the site was leased to the Rank Organisation in 1994 for development into a luxury hotel – Bodelwyddan Castle Hotel and this use remains today.

Castle Location: Denbighshire
Castle Website: Official Website

Caernarfon Castle

Caernarfon Castle
Creative Commons License photo credit: Foucalt

Castle Trivia from Wikipedia:

Caernarfon Castle (Welsh: Castell Caernarfon) is a medieval building in Gwynedd, north-west Wales. There was a motte-and-bailey castle in the town of Caernarfon from the late 11th century until 1283 when King Edward I of England began replacing it with the current stone structure. The Edwardian town and castle acted as the administrative centre of north Wales and as a result the defences were built on a grand scale. There was a deliberate link with Caernarfon’s Roman past – nearby is the Roman fort of Segontium – and the castle’s walls are reminiscent of the Walls of Constantinople.

While the castle was under construction, town walls were built around Caernarfon. The work cost between £20,000 and £25,000 from the start until the end of work in 1330. Despite Caernarfon Castle’s external appearance of being mostly complete, the interior buildings no longer survive and many of the building plans were never finished. The town and castle were sacked in 1294 when Madog ap Llywelyn led a rebellion against the English. Caernarfon was recaptured the following year. During the Glyndŵr Rising of 1400–1415, the castle was besieged. When the Tudor dynasty ascended to the English throne in 1485, tensions between the Welsh and English began to diminish and castles were considered less important. As a result, Caernarfon Castle was allowed to fall into a state of disrepair.

Despite its dilapidated condition, during the English Civil War Caernarfon Castle was held by Royalists, and was besieged three times by Parliamentarian forces. This was the last time the castle was used in war. Caernarfon Castle was neglected until the 19th century when the state funded repairs. In 1911, Caernarfon Castle was used for the investiture of the Prince of Wales, and again in 1969. It is part of the World Heritage Site “Castles and Town Walls of King Edward in Gwynedd.”

Castle Location: Gwynedd
Castle Website: Official Website

Penrhyn Castle

IMG_8629
Creative Commons License photo credit: Gruban

Castle Trivia from Wikipedia:

Penrhyn Castle is a country house in Llandegai, Bangor, Gwynedd, North Wales, in the form of a Norman castle. It was originally a medieval fortified manor house, founded by Ednyfed Fychan. In 1438, Ioan ap Gruffudd was granted a licence to crenellate and he founded the stone castle and added a tower house. Samuel Wyatt reconstructed the property in the 1780s.

The present building was created between 1820 and 1840 to designs by Thomas Hopper, who expanded and transformed the building beyond recognition. However a spiral staircase from the original property can still be seen, and a vaulted basement and other masonry were incorporated into the new structure. Hopper’s client was George Hay Dawkins-Pennant, who had inherited the Penrhyn estate on the death of his second cousin, Richard Pennant, who had made his fortune from Jamaican sugar and local slate quarries. The eldest of George’s two daughters, Juliana, married Grenadier Guard, Edward Gordon Douglas, who, on inheriting the estate on George’s death in 1845, adopted the hyphenated surname of Douglas-Pennant.

Hugh Napier Douglas-Pennant, 4th Lord Penrhyn, died in 1949, and the castle and estate passed to his niece, Lady Janet Pelham, who, on inheritance, adopted the surname of Douglas-Pennant. In 1951 the castle and 40,000 acres (160 km²) of land were accepted by the Treasury in lieu of death duties from Lady Janet. It now belongs to the National Trust and is open to the public.

Castle Location: Gwynedd
Castle Website: Official Website

What’s your favorite castle in Wales? Let us know in the comments!

Comments

  1. avatarmr dorian edwards says

    just a mention about why caerphilly castle isnt included in your top welsh castles! its the largest castle in wales,and the second largest in britain behind windsor castle! its also very visitor frienldy! thank you

  2. avatarRKK says

    Top of my list is Caerffili by its sheer size and location right in the center of a small town. The concrete restoration is a bit crude but nowhere near as badly done and tasteless as Cardiff Castle or Castell Coch.

  3. avatarArchie says

    Sadly, there are a number of broken links to pictures on this page – probably just need updating???

  4. avatarNick says

    You missed out Caerphilly castle! If you ignore the tower that’s slowly falling over, it’s the perfect moat-surrounded castle. Absolutely huge as well.

  5. avatarPeter Griffiths says

    Carmarthenshire has three fantastic castles.
    Kidwelly, Llanstephan & Carregcennin Castle
    Kidwelly for its state of preservation & Llanstephan & Carregcennin for their stunning locations.

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