Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Beaumaris Castle: Cost, Inspiration and Residence

Doorways and arrow slots at Beaumaris Castle

Hels from Art and Architecture, mainly asked some interesting questions about Beaumaris Castle and I promised to get some answers.  She wondered about the cost of the castles, whether they were built to protect against invaders or keep the locals in check, and whether King Edward I lived there.

Cost

In his wonderful book, The Medieval Castles of Wales, John Kenyon states that the total cost of the castle was £14,500 with over £6,000 spent in the first six months.  Kenyon calculates that these costs should be multiplied by 440 to get an estimate of the costs in the currency of today and thus, we are looking at a total current cost of £6,380,000.  As Ryan from Scotland Here and Now pointed out, Edward’s extravagances almost bankrupted the Crown.  Apparently large numbers of men were conscripted in from Shropshire and Staffordshire to complete the work.  I wonder if the use of the word “conscripted” implies that they were paid less than their standard wages in exchange for their upkeep?  I suspect so.

Inspiration

Following the Norman conquest of England beginning in 1066, the Anglo-Norman forces had begun a long, protracted subjugation of Wales that lasted for over two centuries.  This culminated with King Edward I and it was his intention to reclaim land that his father Henry III had lost and to quell further Welsh rebellions.  So he was not protecting against foreign invaders or those arriving by sea, and part of his conquest was his intention to introduce widespread English settlement in Wales.

The 1294-1295 uprising of Madog ap Llywelyn, the last native Prince of Wales, was suppressed in 1295 and construction of the castle began shortly thereafter. 

Residence

I don’t think that King Edward I would ever have lived in the castle, although he might have visited there.  According to Anglesey Today, it was only in 1298 that construction at Beaumaris was completed to the point where it could be defended and by that time, Edward was defeating William Wallace at the Battle of Falkirk.  There were grave concerns regarding the structure in 1306 and Edward died of dysentery in 1307.  By the time construction ceased in 1330, Beaumaris Castle was still not completed.

So there you have it, a couple of questions answered about this magnificent castle.  I am sure you all know by now, but William and Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, live on the Isle of Anglesey so be sure to visit the castle when you are out royal-spotting.  The next castle we’ll visit is Caernarfon. 

14 Comments:

Kiki aka Victoria 27 September 2011 at 16:26  

Mega-gorgeous...love that photos collage..they are beautiful shots!!
Fantastic Emm...wishing you a beautiful day and fabulous week!
Victoria

Dáithaí C 27 September 2011 at 23:24  

Before Edward Longshanks became the Hammer of the Scots he was the Pulveriser of the Welsh, killing the heir to the Welsh Kingdom, girdling Wales with forts and making his son The Prince of Wales, which is why the Welsh don't greet the current user of the title with open arms! Today Ed is in Westminster Abbey and you can visit him for only £15.00!!

Kathy Amen 29 September 2011 at 02:29  

I know every country has interesting stories in their histories, but I'm not sure anyone can top the British! Fascinating stuff!

Jenny Woolf 29 September 2011 at 22:16  

Over six million at today's prices on a castle he did not use? I know they were defensive, but I think Edward DID have a spending problem ! !

Jenny Woolf 29 September 2011 at 22:17  

I hope that my post worked, I think a few people are having problems right now with comment posts apparently disappearing.

AVCr8teur 30 September 2011 at 02:26  

You and your readers learn a lot from the posts we write. I guess King Edward I kept lots of his subjects employed back in those days.

Dominic Doherty 1 October 2011 at 08:12  

Beautiful castle. Have you been to Bodiam Castle?
One of my favourites when I was a boy :-)
http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/main/w-vh/w-visits/w-findaplace/w-bodiamcastle/

Here's our route through France:
Hamburg - Strasbourg - Route des Vins d'Alsace (we visited Mont Sainte-Odile, Barr, and Colmar) - Besancon - Avignon - Gordes - Roussillon - Arles - Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer in the Camargue region - Millau - the Gorges du Tarn (Sainte-Enimie, St Chely du Tarn, Castelbouc) - Dijon - Besancon - Saarlouis - Hamburg

We disabled the "fastest route" - function in our TomTom navigation system so we'd get to see more of the country. Sometimes, it might have taken us twice as long to get from one place to another, but it was well worth it!

William K Wallace 2 October 2011 at 23:56  

I guess Edward Longshanks had Beaumaris Castle built to keep the locals in check. The English were the invaders...

I'm sure history will rewrite itself in Wales one day, just like it will in Scotland when we regain our independance...

Life Ramblings 3 October 2011 at 14:57  

this is so fascinating. i've always learned something new here. great photos.

Ola 5 October 2011 at 08:48  

I wonder what are the costs of maintaining the castles now? I guess it depends but I can imagine that it does cost

Ash 5 October 2011 at 12:14  

Gorgeous photos, Emm!

London Caller 5 October 2011 at 18:37  

£6m?! Wow, that's a lot of money back then!

Emm 2 November 2011 at 13:30  

Another one I forgot to answer!

@ Victoria: Thank you! I quite liked the collage too.

@ Dáithaí: Agreed - Edward was quite the brute.

@ Kathy: I agree!

@ Jenny: Definitely. He was a typical megalomaniac.

@ Karen: I know! I've learned so much from running this blog!

@ Dominic: I haven't been there! Wow, you have given me two major travel tips / destinations in one comment.

@ William: I think it is important that Welsh and Scottish culture be developed and preserved and if that takes independence, then so be it. The history, culture and language is too important to be assimilated into the English norm.

@ Life Ramblings: I guess my work here is done!

@ Ola: I imagine they cost thousands of £s to preserve but hopefully the entrance fees go towards that somehow.

@ Ash: Thank you!

@ London Caller: Noooo, that is in today's money!

@ Betty: Thank you!

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