The original Laugharne castle was established by 1116 as the castle of Robert Courtemain. The castle was also the meeting place of Henry II of England and Rhys ap Gruffudd in 1171–1172, where they agreed a treaty of peace. When Henry II of England died in 1189 the castle, along with St Clears and Llansteffan, were seized by Rhys ap Gruffudd of Deheubarth in the same year. The castle may have been burnt down at that time. It was rebuilt by the Normans, and in 1215 was captured by Llywelyn the Great in his campaign across South Wales. By 1247 Laugharne was granted to the De Brian family. In 1257 Guy de Brian was captured at Laugharne Castle by Llywelyn ap Gruffudd and the castle destroyed.

It was in Laugharne in 1403 that Owain Glyndŵr's rebellion stalled. Perhaps lulled into complacency, he was tricked by an ambush and lost 700 men. When a local soothsayer then warned him to leave the area or be captured, he retreated. After this the rebellion petered out under the weight of greater English numbers; and by 1415, Owain Glyndŵr had disappeared, fading into myth. In 1584, Queen Elizabeth granted Laugharne to Sir John Perrott (rumoured to have been an illegitimate son of Henry VIII) who was responsible for converting the castle from a fortification into a Tudor mansion.

During the Civil War, in 1644, Laugharne was captured by Royalists, but then attacked by the Parliamentary forces of Major-General Rowland Laugharne. 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 about 1730 the new Castle House was built close by, the castle itself being left as a romantic ruin. Around the start of the 19th century the outer ward was laid out as formal gardens.

The ruins of the castle as seen now are the result of much development as the building graduated from an earthwork castle to a Tudor mansion. There is little trace of the original earthwork bank or the first stone hall, which may have been taken down in the twelfth century. The two robust round towers date from the rebuilding work done in the late thirteenth century. Some curtain walling from this time also survives. The north-west tower acted as a keep and also guarded the entry gate through the curtain wall to its south. This tower has a domed roof, but the other, three-storeyed tower has partially collapsed. The two extra storeys and the circular stairway were probably erected in the late thirteenth century, and a new hall was built at this time against the south of the curtain wall. The outer ward, with timber defences, may also date from this period. Further work done in the late thirteenth century includes an additional round tower at the south-west corner of the inner ward and a new, stronger gatehouse, and the defences of the outer ward were rebuilt in stone.

In the mid-fourteenth century, the height of the curtain walling at the south-western corner of the inner ward was increased, and the round tower and the inner gatehouse were also raised in height. This process is particularly noticeable because a greenish stone was used for the alterations that was significantly different in colour from the red sandstone used in the rest of the building. In the sixteenth century, the castle was remodelled into a substantial Tudor mansion with a more comfortable accommodation block and with mock battlements added to the curtain walls. Excavation has shown the remains of the Tudor cobbled courtyard, the presence of a pitched stone kitchen floor and the ground plans of the building at the different periods of its existence.

The castle is under the care of Cadw and is open to the public from spring to autumn.

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Founded: 1116
Category: Castles and fortifications in United Kingdom

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User Reviews

Tom Bombadil (2 months ago)
Lovely castle in an amazing setting. Staff were really friendly too
Jean Kolar (2 months ago)
Fantastic, brings back so many memories of when we had a static in Ants Hill.40 years ago almost.
Patricia Martin (2 months ago)
Beautiful Laugharne. Lovely coastal walk. Car park was small but no charge.
Mick Compton (2 months ago)
Absolutely fantastic setting. After our walk, we sat by the castle and ate our lunch, brought from a local shop. Beautiful. And, it is in Wales,
Lisa Jay Jenkins (2 months ago)
The castle is in the centre of Laugharne, the main town car park is less than 2 minutes walk, no on site parking. There's not much left to look at, it is more of a ruin than a complete castle, though the outside is well in tact, but it's in a beautiful location. There is one tower that you can go up to the top with stunning views of the coastline and the town. Make sure to find the writing shed (Dylan Thomas reportedly wrote a story in there as well as the writing shed at the boathouse). We spent around half an hour here, though not our first visit. There is a large grass area and also picnic tables dotted about. There is a gift shop, but no toilets or refreshments.The town public toilets are just outside the castle, you may have to pay for these I'm not sure, so bring change just in case! There's a lovely picnic spot outside the castle walls by the main car park with picnic tables and a bridge crossing a small river. Nice day out, the town is quite small, but has a handful of places to eat, pub, cafe, chip shop, ice cream stand, though these are not always open so worth checking the opening hours.
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