I went to visit Chepstow Castle over Easter, it really is a gorgeous place. It is in South Wales, Monmouthshire, which is near to the English border. The castle has Norman origins, and it’s believed it was constructed not long after the Battle of Hastings in 1066. The castle is mentioned in Domesday, which says it was built by William fitz Osbern. As Domesday was compiled in 1086, we know it was built some time between these dates. The Norman castle was much smaller than what remains today. Only the great tower survives from the castle’s Norman phase.
The outside of the great tower
The interior. Note the blend of architectural styles in here, this reflects the many different phases of the castle throughout its long history.
Chepstow Castle passed to the great medieval knight William Marshal (I’ll be doing a post about him soon!), through his marriage to Isabel of Clare in 1189. The pair of doors shown here (which were originally at the main gate) have recently been dated to the period of William Marshal. Through dendrochronology, it has been shown that these doors date form no later than the 1190s. This makes these beautiful and well crafted doors, possibly the oldest surviving castle doors in Europe.
William Marshal constructed a revolutionary new gatehouse, the lower and middle bailey defences, along with other fortifications. After he died in 1219 Chepstow Castle passed to each of his five sons. Over this time much more work was done on the castle. Such as the addition of the upper barbican, and the remodelling of the great tower into a gorgeous hall and chamber. The castle is situated on the top of a cliff which is next to the river Wye. The Marshal brothers also greatly added to and extended the defences of this western side, making excellent use of its natural defensive position.
Roger Bigod, the fifth earl of Norfolk, gained the castle in 1270. He added a number of accommodation rooms and chambers, extended the upper level of the great tower, and also built Marten’s Tower (shown here).
By this time the castle had been significantly transformed from its early Norman phase, and continued to be passed to different lords throughout the years. If anyone gets a chance to go, this castle is well worth a visit! Here are a few more pictures of the gorgeous Chepstow Castle - I took far too many to post them all! :D
The main entrance
The great tower
An arch in Roger Bigod's great hall
You can see the lower bailey through these arches
One of the towers added by William Marshal
Remains of the 11C wall painting inside the great tower
The gallery. A passage that runs alongside the great tower, connecting the upper and middle baileys (built late 13C)
View from the gallery
The upper bailey