Dolforwyn Castle was established by Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, Prince of Gwynedd in the late 13th century. It is sited on a wooded ridge commanding excellent views of the upper Severn Valley.
Dolforwyn Castle is a fine example of Welsh castle design as opposed to those built by the English during their conquests of Wales.
Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, Prince of Gwynedd's main land holdings lay in the Gwynedd. In order to assert his claim to be the most important of the Welsh princes he felt the need to exercise his authority in the strategic area which is the Severn Valley, giving as it does access to the heartlands of Wales. In 1257 he invaded the area so that by 1263 he had captured the districts known as Cedewain and Ceri. As a result of this Henry III recognised Llywelyn as Prince of Wales under the terms of the Treaty of Montgomery of 19 September 1267. In order to consolidate his newly conquered lands and to affirm his control Llywelyn ap Gruffydd constructed the castle at Dolforwyn between 1273 and 1277 for a recorded cost of £174 6s 8d.
The castle was fairly primitive in its concept compared to some structures to be found elsewhere. A rectangular platform was hewn from the rock some 240 feet by 90 feet and the initial castle consisted of a rectangular keep at the south west end of the platform and a circular tower at the opposite end. The two structures were subsequently connected by ramparts to make a rectangular shaped enclosure with a D-shaped tower on the northern wall. The enclosed area was divided into two wards by a rock-cut ditch. A two-storey structure was built against the north wall. The main gateway into the castle was in the west wall. A smaller entrance was sited in the south wall.
Following the construction of the castle without the authorisation of the new English king Edward I, whose frontier post was at Montgomery Castle, tensions grew between him, Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, and Gruffydd ap Gwenwynwyn Prince of Southern Powys, who held Powis Castle at nearby Welshpool.
In 1277 shortly after the castle had been completed Roger Mortimer and Henry de Lacy, Earl of Lincoln besieged it. It fell on 8 April 1277 because a well had not been constructed and the occupants ran out of water. Custody was firstly given to Gruffydd ap Gwenwynwyn but subsequently to Roger Mortimer along with the lands of Ceri and Cedewain. Following its fall, the castle design was modified by its new English overlords. The south gate was blocked, new buildings were set up in the courtyard, and a well was dug.
Following the death of Roger Mortimer in 1282, the castle passed to his son Edmund Mortimer, then to his son, Roger Mortimer, 1st Earl of March, who lost the family estates in 1322 after an act of treason. An inventory taken at the time recites the rooms, which included an armoury in the round tower as well as domestic ranges with a pantry, buttery, kitchen, brewhouse, bakehouse, chapel, hall, a lady's chamber and two granges for the storage of grain.
Dolforwyn appears to have been occupied until the reign of Richard II (1377–99), but by 1381 it was already described as being in poor repair, and in 1398 it was described as being 'ruinous and worth nothing.' It appears that after this date the castle was almost lost from memory and attracted little interest.
The ownership of the castle passed to the Earls of Powis and was subsequently bought by the grandfather of the antiquarian John Davies Knatchbull Lloyd, who gave the site to the Welsh Ancient Monuments Board (now Cadw) in 1955. Cadw arranged for excavation of the site between 1981 and 2002 and the monument is now open to the public.
In June 2009 Cadw commenced a 6-month process of consolidation of the castle masonry.References:
The Church of St Eustace was built between 1532-1632. St Eustace"s is considered a masterpiece of late Gothic architecture. The church’s reputation was strong enough of the time for it to be chosen as the location for a young Louis XIV to receive communion. Mozart also chose the sanctuary as the location for his mother’s funeral. Among those baptised here as children were Richelieu, Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson, future Madame de Pompadour and Molière, who was also married here in the 17th century. The last rites for Anne of Austria, Turenne and Mirabeau were pronounced within its walls. Marie de Gournay is buried there.
The origins of Saint Eustache date back to 13th century. The church became a parish church in 1223, thanks to a man named Jean Alais who achieved this by taxing the baskets of fish sold nearby, as granted by King Philip Augustus. To thank such divine generosity, Alais constructed a chapel dedicated to Sainte-Agnès, a Roman martyr. The construction of the current church began in 1532, the work not being finally completed until 1637. The name of the church refers to Saint Eustace, a Roman general of the second century AD who was burned, along with his family, for converting to Christianity, and it is believed that it was the transfer of a relic of Saint Eustache from the Abbey to Saint-Denis to the Church of Saint Eustache which resulted in its naming. Jeanne Baptiste d"Albert de Luynes was baptised here.
According to tourist literature on-site, during the French Revolution the church, like most churches in Paris, was desecrated, looted, and used for a time as a barn. The church was restored after the Revolution had run its course and remains in use today. Several impressive paintings by Rubens remain in the church today. Each summer, organ concerts commemorate the premieres of Berlioz’s Te Deum and Liszt’s Christus here in 1886.
The church is an example of a Gothic structure clothed in Renaissance detail. The church is relatively short in length at 105m, but its interior is 33.45m high to the vaulting. At the main façade, the left tower has been completed in Renaissance style, while the right tower remains a stump. The front and rear aspects provide a remarkable contrast between the comparatively sober classical front and the exuberant rear, which integrates Gothic forms and organization with Classical details. The L"écoute sculpture by Henri de Miller appears outside the church, to the south. A Keith Haring sculpture stands in a chapel of the church.
The Chapel of the Virgin was built in 1640 and restored from 1801 to 1804. It was inaugurated by Pius VII on the 22nd of December, 1804 when he came to Paris for the coronation of Napoleon. The apse chapel, with a ribbed cul-de-four vault, has at its centre a sculpture of the Virgin and Child of Jean-Baptiste Pigalle that the painter Thomas Couture highlighted by three large paintings.
With 8,000 pipes, the organ is reputed to be the largest pipe organ in France, surpassing the organs of Saint Sulpice and Notre Dame de Paris. The organ originally constructed by P.-A. Ducroquet was powerful enough for the premiere of Hector Berlioz" titanic Te Deum to be performed at St-Eustache in 1855.