Visiting Raglan


Raglan, the town is most remarkable for its castle.  It was the latest of the medieval strongholds, indeed its creation can be said to mark the end of the Middle Ages.  William Herbert, Earl of Pembroke, had it built and intended to use it as a fortress in the Yorkist interest, during the Wars of the Roses.  It was that long-drawn and bloody feud between the Yorkist and Lancastrian Houses for the throne of England which destroyed the whole system of faith and law upon which medieval Britain was built.  The Earl was captured and executed by the Lancastrians in 1469, just twenty years before Henry Tudor, who later became Henry VII, ended the Wars and reconciled the badges of the two opposing sides by uniting the White Rose and the Red Rose in the new symbol of the Tudor dynasty.  The curious fact is that Henry was at one stage in his career imprisoned by William Herbert in this same Castle of Raglan.

During the later troubles of the Civil Wars, Charles I was a guest in the Castle after the Battle of Naseby, and it was defended against Fairfax, Cromwell's General, for ten weeks in 1646.  Raglan was the last castle to hold out against Parliament in the First Civil War.  Charles II on his restoration rewarded the family by raising it from an earldom to marquessate - and the 2nd. Marquess distinguished himself further by writing a treatise on the use of steam and water-power in which he anticipated the steam-pump in the 17-century.  It is said that he had already turned his inventiveness to use by driving off the Roundhead attack with water-hoses.

Raglan Castle (shown above) has a handsome, decorative appearance.   The great hall and the six-sided central keep attract most attention.  The outstanding feature of the Castle however, is its great length of surrounding wall.  Raglan stands alone, commanding a wide countryside.  Between it and Monmouth, Craig y Dorth is supposed to mark where Owain Glyndwr took to the hills after his allies, Hotspur and Percy of Northumberland, had been overthrown at Shrewsbury.