The romantic ruins of Laugharne Castle, overlooking the Tay estuary, have been the inspiration for artists such as Turner, and authors such as Dylan Thomas who wrote 'Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog' in the gazebo in the castle garden. But its early history was far less peaceful. It started out as a Norman ringwork constructed in the early 12th century. For a long time it had only a tenuous hold on the area and the castle was repeatedly captured during Welsh uprisings against the Norman invaders.
From the mid 13th century until the end of the 14th century the castle belonged to the de Brian family. The de Brians, all with the same name of Guy, rebuilt the castle in stone, eventually creating a strong fortification that offered a high standard of accommodation. At the time the de Brians acquired the castle the area was still under threat from the Welsh, and in 1257, Guy de Brian IV was captured and only released the following year after a ransom had been paid. The building work that Guy de Brian IV had started was continued by his son and completed by the most successful member of the family, Guy de Brian VII. Guy VII was a distinguished soldier who fought at the battle of Crécy, rose to the position of Admiral of the Fleet and was made a Knight of the Garter in 1370. When he died in 1340 there was no clear successor and the castle declined during a long period of disputes over the inheritance, which was not settled until 1488 when Laugharne passed to Henry Percy, fourth Earl of Northumberland.
In 1575, Queen Elizabeth I granted the castle to Sir John Perrot, reputedly one of Henry VIII's illegitimate sons. By this time the castle was in a ruinous state and Sir John set about converting it into a fine Tudor mansion. In 1591, Sir John was found guilty of high treason and he died the following year while imprisoned in the Tower of London. As soon as his conviction was known, parts of the castle, particularly the wooden panelling, were being illegally removed. The stripping of anything of value from the castle continued and the damage was accelerated during the Civil War when the Parliamentray forces of Major-General Rowland Laugharne attacked the castle in 1644. After a week long siege in which much of the castle was damaged by cannon-fire, the Royalist garrison finally surrendered. The castle was slighted to prevent any further use. In the 18th century the castle grounds were landscaped and converted into a garden with the ivy clad ruins of the castle at its centre.
- In the village of Laugharne, on the A4066 from St Clears
- Laugharne Castle, Laugharne, Carmarthen, Carmarthenshire
- CADW. Open to the public. Admission fee
- For further information visit cadw.wales.gov.uk
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