Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Carew Castle

Carew Castle is a castle in the civil parish of Carew in the Welsh county of Pembrokeshire. The famous Carew family take their name from the place, and still own the castle, although it is leased to the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, which administers the site.

The present castle, which replaced an earlier stone keep, is constructed almost entirely from the local Carboniferous limestone, except for some of the Tudor architectural features such as window frames, which are made from imported Cotswold stone. Although originally a Norman stronghold the castle maintains a mixture of architectural styles as modifications were made to the structure over successive centuries.

The use of the site for military purposes extends back at least 2000 years.

The castle stands on a limestone bluff overlooking the Carew inlet — a part of the tidal estuary that makes up Milford Haven. The site must have been recognised as strategically useful from the earliest times, and recent excavations in the outer ward have discovered multiple defensive walls of an Iron Age fort.

The Norman castle has its origins in a stone keep built by Gerald de Windsor around the year 1100. Gerald was made castellan of Pembroke Castle by Arnulf of Montgomery in the first Norman invasion of Pembrokeshire. He married Nest, princess of Deheubarth around 1095. Nest brought the manor of Carew as part of her dowry, and Gerald cleared the existing fort to build his own castle on Norman lines. The original outer walls were timber, and only the keep was of stone.
This still exists in the later structure as the "Old Tower" (on the right).

My favorite part of the subsequent history is this story:
In the 17th century the castle's lord, Sir Roland Rhys, is alleged to have kept a Macaque in the north-west tower. It is claimed that it had been captured, half-crazed, from a shipwreck and was subsequently chained up for the entertainment of the lord.
The story goes that Sir Rowland had one son who ran off with the daughter of a local merchant, not a union that Sir Rowland approved of.

On the fateful night there was a storm brewing. The wind screamed around the castle and the rain lashed at the windows. The monkey was restless, sensing Sir Rowland's evil mood. There was a knock at the door and the girl's father, a merchant by the name of Horowitz, demanded admittance, distressed and upset that his daughter had run away with Sir Rowland's son. Sir Rowland did not believe his story and after a fierce argument he released the monkey from its chains and ordered it to kill Horowitz.

The merchant fought off the monkey and, although badly injured, managed to drag himself from the room. He shouted for help from the servants who tended him for the night. Horowitz cursed Sir Rowland with an evil fate and, as he cursed, great piercing screams were heard from the tower room. The servants, who were terrified of their master, were unwilling to venture into the tower room to find out what had happened.

At first light the following morning they summoned up the courage to enter the silent room. There, lying in a pool of blood was the body of Sir Rowland, but of the monkey there was no sign.

Legend has it that the ghost of the monkey returns to the castle on dark, stormy nights where he has been seen and heard by passers-by.
This is one of many stories surrounding the inhabitants of this legendary castle.  For more history, see Carew Castle on a nice website about the castles of Wales.

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