Saturday, 17 September 2011

Beaumaris Castle on the Isle of Anglesey

Once upon a time, there was an ambitious young prince called Edward. Edward lived in the most exciting and turbulent of times during 13th Century Britain. By the time he turned 30, Edward had fought, been captured and released during the civil war against Simon de Montfort’s Barons and he had taken part in the Eighth and Ninth Crusades to the Holy Land. Edward was just 33 when he became King Edward I of England on 16 November 1272.  After a nine-month leisurely tour of Italy and France, Edward I returned home to England and set about restoring some of the law, order and land that his father, King Henry III, had lost.

At first, that involved imposing English law on Welsh subjects and crushing rebellions, but over time, Edward I embarked on a plan of massive English settlement in Wales.  His castles are testament to that ambition and in total, he built eight castles in Wales.  Four of these castles were proclaimed a World Heritage Site in 1986 (Beaumaris, Caernarfon, Conwy and Harlech)and we were lucky enough to see Beaumaris, Caernarfon and Harlech castles on our visit. 

The Gate Next to the Sea Beaumaris The Gate Next to the Sea, Beaumaris Castle

Edward’s castles added two important features to British castles.  First, there is the arrow slits in the walls, an Eastern influence that was discovered during the Crusades.  The second was the building of concentric castles where the outer defences completely surround the inner ward.  If you click on the photo above to enlarge it, you can see the lower outer wall and the south gatehouse leading to the inner ward.

Entrance to Beaumaris Castle - the Gate Next to the Sea Entrance to Beaumaris Castle, the Gate Next to the Sea

Beaumaris Castle was Edward’s final castle in Wales but it was never finished.  Incredibly, much of what we can still see today was built in one year (1294-1295) except for the curtain walls which were completed in the 1330s.

Gunners Walk Beaumaris Castle Gunners Walk

Once we had entered the castle though the Gate Next to the Sea, we climbed up the stairs to the outer curtain wall and walked along Gunners Walk.  That is mainland Wales you can see in the distance of the photo above.

Gunners Walk and South East Curtain Wall Beaumaris Castle Gunners Walk and the south eastern curtain wall

It was a cool, cloudy day but not as cold as it looks, thankfully.

Inner ward north gatehouse Beaumaris Castle The Inner Ward looking towards the North Gatehouse

The inner ward of Beaumaris Castle might look bare today, but in medieval times it would have been full of little buildings housing the kitchens, stables, banqueting halls and, of course, the living quarters of those lucky enough to reside within the castle walls.

The Haunted Chapel Beaumaris The Haunted Chapel

The chapel at Beaumaris Castle is haunted. Of course, I have no evidence of this bar my own experiences but a simple Google search told me that I am not the only person to have a strange experience in the chapel. 

Chapel Beaumaris The Chapel

At first, a dark shadow kept appearing in my photos and I was silly enough to delete them but then we saw the shadow on the LCD display of my step-mother’s camera and got quite a fright! Anyway, we have no proof but that chapel is haunted.

Within these castle walls Beaumaris Within These Castle Walls

For a reason that I cannot quite fathom, views such as the ones above and below really impress me.  Perhaps it is the proximity of the walls but I just felt that I really got a glimpse into how the castle might have looked 700 years ago.

Within these castle walls Within These Castle Walls

I love how grand and imposing castles are with their stones, archways, walkways and arrow slits.  I love how decorative the stone can look and how majestic they remain.

North Gatehouse Beaumaris Detail of the north gatehouse

That is my dad you can see in the bottom left of the photo. It gives an idea of how imposing these castle walls are.  They weren’t even that tall 700 years ago but perhaps they needed the height for the standards or spears.

View of the South Gatehouse View of the south gatehouse

The south gatehouse was never finished (its three portcullises were never installed) and there is a barbican located between the south gatehouse and the Gate by the Sea to make it harder for attackers to gain access to the inner ward. 

The Rear Curtain Walls Beaumaris The Rear Curtain Walls

Beaumaris was once surrounded by its moat but these days it only runs about a third of the way around the castle.

Views from Beaumaris Views from Beaumaris

The views from Beaumaris were quite beautiful and this young seagull was very kind to pose for me.

View of the South Gatehouse from the Curtain Walls View of south gatehouse from curtain wall

The view of the inner ward from the curtain walls was quite exquisite and you could get an idea of the overall design and function of the castle. Unfortunately, the chilly weather began to take its toll and we started to head downstairs for some lunch.

Spiral Staircase Beaumaris Spiral staircase

Ancient stone staircases are a little bit more fun when your toes aren't frozen solid.

View of north gatehouse Beaumaris View of the north gatehouse

The north gatehouse was one of the most completed parts of the castle and you can get an idea of how tall the castle was intended to be.  It is possible that there was a great hall behind the five windows.

Beaumaris Castle is certainly one of the nicest castles I have visited.  I would love to visit there one day when the sun is shining the cloudy weather did add to the sense of history and importance. I’d certainly recommend a visit.

SHARE:

28 comments

  1. It must have cost a fortune to build this castle, let alone all the other castles that King Edward I had in mind. So I wonder why he thought it was worthwhile - to keep the locals under control? or to protect this part of the country against external invaders?

    Did King Edward and his retinue actually visit Beaumaris Castle (as well as Caernarfon, Harlech etc)?

    ReplyDelete
  2. He could teach Charles a thing or two.

    ReplyDelete
  3. okay ... that was a fun post! and the haunting thing, what a trip (i read the bbc piece also)!! btw, emm, thanks for your comments on my 9/11 post.

    have a great fall season (post more pics of the weather changing over there!).

    ;)

    ReplyDelete
  4. What a neat castle! I love arrow slits in castles (I especially like taking photos of them from the inside out), and it's nice to know how and when they came to be.

    Everything looks so nice and green, too, just a lovely setting. Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I agree! Beaumaris is one of the best castles I saw in the UK. Leeds Castle and Warwick are pretty cool for the restoration work, but I like my castles old and crumbly yet still standing proud.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Emm..Exquisite BEAUTY..gorgeous..now my FAVE post! Thanks for this magnificent tour...pure gorgeousness and awe!
    love love love it!!Thankyou
    Victoria

    ReplyDelete
  7. I love the Welsh castles in that they fit the bleak landscape so well. I haven't been here but Harlech is one of my favorites as it has such an impressive setting.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I see you've been travelling too, Mandy! Enjoyed looking through your new pictures... hope you enjoyed Wales, I've been there a few times when I was a kid but we weren't lucky with the weather - and let me know if you tried to pronounce those Welsh names hahah.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Who dare to play hide and seek in that castle..LOL

    ReplyDelete
  10. The castles are indeed most impressive and yes they were extremely expensive as the building of them nearly bankrupted the crown at the time. I wish you hadn't deleted the ghost photos I would lived to have had a peek.

    ReplyDelete
  11. It's interesting that he had to copy the arrow slits from elsewhere. I would think that would be obvious.

    ReplyDelete
  12. That's a very interesting post Mandy!

    The castle has stunning views and the haunted chapel sounds intriguing.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Amazing Posts...ceafarulromanesc.com

    ReplyDelete
  14. The walls are impressive!!!
    I always wander how people could live in such places...
    Thanks for visiting me, nice to discover your interesting blog

    ReplyDelete
  15. Have to keep the Welsh in check; that's why we have rugby.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I have a weakness for castles, however I never made it out to this one. Will add it to my bucket list. Thanks for the recommendation, your pics are gorge!

    ReplyDelete
  17. Rewarding to visit historic sites like this!

    ReplyDelete
  18. Totally fascinating!
    Shame that the weather was a bit rubbish.

    ReplyDelete
  19. What a wonderful castle and area. Must be a great place to use the camera. So many beautiful details. I like the windows very much. And maybe it would be great with a boulder here:-)
    Hope you have a nice week!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Visiting a castle always makes for a great experience, especially ruined ones. I don't think I have ever visited a castle that didn't supposedly have a resident ghost or three...

    ReplyDelete
  21. wow! stunning shots....I've never seen a real castle before...I saw the disney castle, but that's about it...lol!

    ReplyDelete
  22. the castle looks amazingly beautiful. lovely views with a real sense of history. the chapel looks very mysterious and eerie.

    ReplyDelete
  23. @ Hels: it was partially to keep the locals in check but also because he was trying to roll out a large-scale English settlement of Wales. I'll find the answers to your last two questions and let you know!

    @ Mo: what, about crushing Welsh rebellions and moving large portions of the English population to north-west Wales? Hee hee. Actually, Charles is known for his love of architecture. Wills lives on the Isle of Anglesey and Charles was made Prince of Wales in Caernarfon.

    @ JG: so glad you enjoyed castle-hopping with me!

    @ Kathy: I've also always loved arrow slits! Glad you liked the post.

    @ Wendy: I haven't been to Leeds yet which is just stupid - I live near to it. Warwick is in a class of its own, with the help of all of the wax figurines. I don't think I've visited a castle I didn't like!

    @ Victoria: yay! So glad you liked it so much!

    @ David: Harlech is exquisite and it was sunny when we visited!

    @ Dominic: I can't do Welsh or Irish accents, it is ridiculous. The only accent I can do very, very well is a parody of the Afrikaans accent. Yup, we had a short 4 night holiday. Next year I hope to see more of eastern Europe.

    @ Rojak: heh! Castles do have a sense of fun about them, don't they?

    @ Ryan: really? That is interesting! I deleted the photos before I realised what was going on. I thought I'd put my thumb in front of the lense or something until we saw the shadow on the LCD. My camera has a viewfinder.

    @ Sixmats: I must say, castles have been part of my life forever as my parents took me castle-hopping when we lived in UK in the 70s. I also find it hard to believe the inspiration for arrow slits would have needed to come from elsewhere because it is such a staple of defence to me.

    @ Alan: thank you! It would be amazing in sunshIne!

    @ Alobaghdad: thank you!

    @ Ola: I think there was probably a lot of wood and wooden structures such as floors that has probably gone now. In the section between the two walls, where the great hall was, there was almost certainly a floor there.

    @ John: no, that's why South Africans have rugby, so we can thrash the English and Welsh rugby teams.

    @ Sarah: you must see some castles! They are all over the UK!

    @ Rob: it is certainly rewarding!

    @ London Calling: heh, believe it or not, I've been to castles in much worse weather.

    @ Spiderdama: yes, it is hard not to find inspiration to use your camera in a castle!

    @ William: they must all have ghosts, especially the ones that were lived in! I also like the ruined ones.

    @ Explorerminded: really? If you click the "castles" link t the bottom of my post, you'll see all the castles I've visited so far!

    @ Life Ramblings: You're so right, I love learning about history like this.

    ReplyDelete
  24. wow this is one of the most fascinating castles I have ever seen. Hope I can get to see it one day.

    ReplyDelete
  25. If only those walls could talk, what stories they would tell. I can imagine the knights and royalty out in that massive green field within the castle walls. After reading about those strange encounters, I'm glad you were not alone at the castle during your visit.

    ReplyDelete
  26. @ Tina: you'd be surprised how many castles are dotted about. Do you ever take your kids to castles?

    @ AVCr8teur: I know. The history just seems to seep through the walls.

    ReplyDelete
  27. I have two photos with faces in them. The first was taken outside and of a chapel window. It was eerie. When it was on the digital camera you could see at least a dozen faces. I have played with the photo setting but can only see about 7 now. The second was taken inside and looks like a roman soldier. Just the head with a helmet on.

    ReplyDelete
  28. That is brilliant Carolyn! I knew it was haunted!

    ReplyDelete

Lovely friends, family, fellow bloggers and readers both new and old: I love and welcome comments so please don't feel shy. You may also find it easier to leave a comment on the Emm in London Facebook fan page.

Comment moderation has been activated to deter spammers.

Spammers: don't even bother. No, really, they won't even show up for a second.

© 2008 - Mandy Southgate | Emm in London

This site uses cookies from Google to deliver its services - Click here for information.

Blogger Template Created by pipdig