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Haverfordwest Castle

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Hwlffordd; Heleford; Haverford

In the community of Haverfordwest.
In the historic county of Pembrokeshire.
Modern authority of Pembrokeshire.
Preserved county of Dyfed.

OS Map Grid Reference: SM953157
Latitude 51.80261° Longitude -4.96977°

Haverfordwest Castle has been described as a certain Masonry Castle.

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.
This is a Grade 1 listed building protected by law*.


Haverfordwest Castle was founded by Takard (or Tankred), a Fleming, in around 1110. Nothing of this period survives, the present remains being largely the result of a major development in the late thirteenth century. The castle was converted into a prison during the nineteenth century. Some of the prison buildings have been removed, apart from those that house the county archives and town museum. There are traces of red lines, possibly representing false ashlar lining, in the recesses to the windows of the room below the hall on the north-eastern outer wall. (Coflein)

The castle stands on a superb, naturally defensive position at the end of a strong, isolated ridge with a sheer cliff on the east. It was an English foundation, first established by Gilbert de Clare, earl of Pembroke in the mid-12th century, and remained an English stronghold throughout its history. It is first mentioned by Giraldus Cambrensis as one of the places he visited in 1188 with Archbishop Baldwin. Of that castle, which must have been of earth and timber, little now survives, except, perhaps for the footings of a large square keep in the north-east corner of the inner ward. The present form of the castle, divided into two wards, probably reflects that of the original 12th-century castle. The plan is a little difficult to make out as the museum lies in the center of the outer ward, while the former prison governor's house lies on the site of the inner ward gatehouse. The medieval castle was converted to a prison in the 18th century, but the buildings of the inner ward and outer defences can still be appreciated. Haverfordwest was probably a strong stone castle by 1220, when it withstood an attack by Llywelyn the Great who had already burned the town. It was acquired by Queen Eleanor (wife of Edward I) in 1289, who immediately began building there on a large scale, to judge from the considerable sums of money recorded as being spent on "the Queen's castle at Haverford." Much of the existing masonry is late 13th-century in style and may well have been undertaken during the one year before her death in 1290. The lofty inner ward has round towers on the north-west and south-west corners, while the south-east corner has a square tower with an additional projecting turret. The entrance lay on the west, protected by a gatehouse of which no trace survives. The remains of a spacious hall lie on the south, with large windows built high enough in the exterior wall to be safe from attack by besiegers equipped with scaling ladders. The south-west and south-east towers have three storeys, the latter with a basement equipped with a postern gate to allow access to a small terrace which could be used to counter-attack during a siege. The wall-walk, carried on a row of corbels on the east of the tower, is a well-preserved feature on the inside, and from the outside of the castle the tower's remaining lights and arrowslits can be seen. (Rees, 1992)

Situated on hill in centre of the town.
Remnant of C12-13 castle, principally the shell of the great keep with two towers. The castle originally extended much further to both SW and NW, traces of buildings in a wider area have been revealed, for instance behind the SW side of Castle Street, and to the NW, near the NW end of the former County Gaol. The castle is first mentioned in 1188 by Gerald of Wales, when it was held by Richard Fitz Tancred, whose father, from Flanders, probably founded the castle c. 1110. Robert Fitz Richard was ejected by King John in 1210 and the castle was granted to William Marshal of Pembroke. It was probably rebuilt then. It resisted an attack by forces of Llewelyn the Great in 1220. From the Marshals the castle passed to the de Bohuns, though taken from them 1265-74 for their part in the De Montfort uprising. In 1289 it was exchanged by the de Bohuns with Queen Eleanor, and large sums were spent by her in 1289-90, which may include much of what remains. It was a royal castle thereafter, though granted for life to Aylmer de Valence of Pembroke, 1308-24, to Isabella of France 1331-58, to Thomas de Felton c. 1370-80, John de Clanvowe 1383-91 and Thomas Earl of Worcester 1393-1403. It was attacked but not taken in the Glyndwr uprising 1405. There are records of a tower rebuilt, a new tower at the gate, and a new stable at this time. The pattern of grants to nobles continued in the C15, including William Lord Herbert 1462-69, and Jasper Tudor 1488-95, both Earls of Pembroke. Small works are recorded in 1472 and 1477. By 1577 the castle was in ruins. The remains were slighted in 1648, and the ruins slowly robbed of stone. They are shown more extensive in the 1740 Buck engraving. In 1780 a prison was built within the inner ward, enlarged with a debtors' prison 1816. French prisoners were held here in 1797. These buildings have gone, mostly cleared in the later C20. The surviving former County Gaol in the outer ward dates from 1820.
Ruins of castle, rubble stone. The principal surviving part is the inner ward at the E end of the castle hill, enclosed on three sides by medieval work, the fourth partly open and partly occupied by the Governor's House of 1780 contained the inner gate originally. The surviving high curtain wall has a SW tower to S of the Governor's House and S wall of the former hall with two very large pointed first floor windows of c. 1290. It was raised on an undercroft lit by five lancet windows. The tower has chambers on three levels. At the SE angle was the former chapel with a square tower facing E and big windows to E and S, the E window rebuilt with brick pointed head. The E range is terminated by massively thick walls of a late C12 NE tower. there were two chambers at first floor, the S one with three big late C13 windows, now blocked, and undercroft windows below. The N one has cruder windows with stone voussoirs, three, the N two paired. The outer walls of the NE tower survive, very thick with fireplaces in N wall. A short corbelled wall-passage runs W to the Brechinock Tower with a stub of wall running SE towards the former inner gate. The curtain wall is preserved in part along the N side running W from the Brechinock Tower in a curve overlooking Hayguard Lane, with the bases of a mural tower N of the former Gaol and a square tower N of the car park visible. (Listed Building Report)
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This record last updated 03/07/2016 20:28:55