Gower Castles and Forts http://www.explore-gower.co.uk/explore/gower-history/castles-and-forts Sat, 27 May 2017 11:35:01 +0000 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb Oxwich Castle http://www.explore-gower.co.uk/explore/gower-history/castles-and-forts/oxwich-castle http://www.explore-gower.co.uk/explore/gower-history/castles-and-forts/oxwich-castle

Like Weobley Castle on the northern coast of the Gower Peninsula , Oxwich Castle is actually a fortified Tudor manor house. Built upon, and incorporating the 14th century castle in which he was born, Sir Rhys Mansel constructed this extensive mansion in the first half of the 16th century.

Oxwich Castle

Sited close to the treacherous shore of Oxwich Bay, the Mansel family found many an opportunity to gain advantage of their proximity to the beach by being the first to plunder the treasures of the numerous sailing vessels that wrecked themselves on the coast here. However, such eager salvaging brought disaster upon the family when, on 27th December 1557, Sir Rhys Mansel took possession of the riches from a certain French trading ship that had come to grief off Oxwich Point during a gale.

The salvage rights to this vessel, to some extent, also belonged to a Sir George Herbert, one of the most important and powerful men of Swansea at the time, and he and his men soon descended upon Oxwich Castle to forcibly argue their rights on the matter. Fearing that the ensuing argument, between Herbert and his men and Mansel and his own, would turn bloody, Sir Rhys Mansel's daughter, Anne, rushed outside the castle to part the two sides. However, as she intervened, she was struck by a stone thrown by Sir George's angered servant and fell to the ground bleeding from her head. This episode resulted in her death six days later.

Sir Rice Mansel, took his case to the Star Chamber, which imposed heavy fines on Sir George and his men. They were also ordered to return the salvaged goods and to repair all damage caused by the fracas. Additionally the servant stood trial for his part in Anne Mansel's death.

However, as far as the Mansel family were concerned justice had not been done. The court decided to pardon the stone-throwing servant and Sir George craftily avoided paying his fine, as he decided to put all his possessions into trust with his wife as beneficiary. By the time of his death in 1570 he had managed to avoid paying the sum owed. The bitter feud between the Mansels and the Herberts lasted for many years until Oxwich Castle was abandoned by the Mansel family in the late 16th century for their new residence at Margam. The building was leased out to tenant farmers who inhabited the smaller south wing, whilst the large east block fell into ruin.

The site is presently conserved and maintained by CADW - Welsh Historic Monuments.

stella.elphick@gmail.com (Stella Elphick) Castles and Forts Wed, 29 Aug 2012 20:25:13 +0000
Oystermouth Castle http://www.explore-gower.co.uk/explore/gower-history/castles-and-forts/oystermouth-castle http://www.explore-gower.co.uk/explore/gower-history/castles-and-forts/oystermouth-castle

The impressive ruins of Oystermouth Castle are the best preserved castle remains on the Gower Peninsula. Most of the castle structure seen today dates from the late 13th century and the early 14th century, however the castle site has been occupied since the beginning of the 12th century.

Oystermouth Castle 

Oystermouth Castle is open to the public during the tourist season, for a smalll entrance fee, and provides visitors with a good couple of hours exploration with superb views over Swansea, Swansea Bay and Mumbles.

The castle underwent significant conservation work during 2010-2011 to improve accessibility and ensure the structure remains safe for future generations.  Hidden features of the castle were uncovered during the restoration and conservation, such as 14th century grafitti and staircases leading from the vaults to the previous banqueting halls.  Oystermouth Castle was reopened to the public on 16th July 2011.

The castle is the responsibility of the City and County of Swansea and supervised by the Friends of Oystermouth Castle.

Castle History

The history of the castle is intricately linked with that of Swansea Castle. In 1106, Henry de Beaumont, Earl of Warwick, became the first Norman Lord of Gower and to reward his followers he parceled out the rich farming land of his new property amongst them, building a castle for himself at Swansea in the meantime.

William de Londres and his family were given Oystermouth, where they founded the first castle at this site, probably of a simple ringwork and bailey structure. The male line of the de Londres family ended by 1184 however, and the Lord of Gower took possession of Oystermouth Castle, adding it to the castles he already owned at Swansea, Loughor and Pontarddulais. Impressed by both its position and structure, it was not long before Oystermouth Castle became the chief residence for the Earl of Warwick and for the future lords of Gower who succeeded him.

Oystermouth Castle

The early fortification founded here by William de Londres, was continually modified and improved upon throughout history, as successive Welsh uprisings kept destroying their earlier counterparts. 

The White Lady of Oystermouth Castle

Attached to the castle is the ghostly tale of a young woman who is sometimes seen wandering around the castle‚Äôs forbidding exterior walls. The apparition is usually reported each time to be crying inconsolably and wearing a white garment that is torn at the back, revealing large and bloody wounds.  

A man, letting his dog off its lead to have a run around the castle's spacious grounds, was surprised to see his pet suddenly race towards him from behind a tree in obvious terror. Curious as to what had caused the animal's fright, the man walked over to the tree where he saw what he at first figured to be a large white sheet resting on the grass near the trunk of the tree. As he approached the sheet, however, it suddenly emerged from the ground and took the form of a woman wearing a white robe. She then faded from sight like dissolving mist.

On another occasion the young children of a family picnicking on the castle grounds appeared from behind a tree screaming. When asked what had frightened them, they explained they had seen a scary lady dressed in a long white robe with a cord fastened around her waist. She appeared to the children as if she had been sobbing, although she had made no sound whatsoever. When the children's father went to the tree to see the woman in white for himself, the figure turned her back to the man to reveal her back bleeding profusely from open lacerations.

It has been suggested by witnesses that it looked as though she had been the poor victim of a severe whipping. Inside Oystermouth Castle's dungeon, the remains of a whipping post may still be seen to this day.

stella.elphick@gmail.com (Stella Elphick) Castles and Forts Mon, 10 Sep 2012 18:48:39 +0000
Weobley Castle http://www.explore-gower.co.uk/explore/gower-history/castles-and-forts/weobley-castle http://www.explore-gower.co.uk/explore/gower-history/castles-and-forts/weobley-castle

Weobley Castle stands evocatively upon a northern hilltop overlooking the Burry Estuary and most of the North Gower coast. Along with a few other castles on the Gower Peninsula, this building is not an actual Norman castle but is in fact, an early 14th century fortified manor house.

Weobley Castle

The castle was built by the de la Bere family who lived here for over a century. Although the manor house had been built to sustain military attack, its main purpose was one of grand residence. It was therefore hardly surprising that the building was significantly damaged when Owain Glyndwr, leader of the Welsh rebellion, raided Gower between 1403-1406 with the purpose of reclaiming Wales from its Norman rule. However, not suffering the full treatment from Glyndwr and his army that Swansea Castle received, the Weobley manor house recooped and continued to be the home of the de la Bere family until the mid 15th century when it seems the family moved to Berkshire. The residency was then taken up by the powerful Sir Rhys ap Thomas.

Sir Rhys ap Thomas had been knighted and made Governor of Wales on the battlefield of Bosworth in 1485, after triumphantly slaying Richard III, and had become the close friend of the new Tudor king Henry VII. During his ownership of Weobley Castle he made several improvements and additions of typical Tudor-style.

Weobley Castle

After Sir Rhys ap Thomas relatively short residence, the castle was owned by the Crown. Henry VIII at first gave the castle as a gift to Lady Catherine Edgecumbe, but when both the King and Lady Catherine died in 1547 the Crown leased the castle to Sir William Herbert for 10 years.

Finally, the Mansel family of Llanrithrid procured the castle, which they owned for many generations until 1911, when Miss Emily Charlotte Mansel Talbot of Penrice Castle signed the castle over to the appropriate government department dealing with architecture.

Over more recent years a certain amount of renovation and restoration work has been carried out and maintained by the Welsh Government department CADW - who deal with Welsh historic monuments. Today, the well maintained castle is open to the public (for a small fee) and hosts a comprehensive exhibition on both its own history as well details of other historic attractions of the peninsula.

No Dogs Allowed. Tel: 01792 390012 for up to date information.

stella.elphick@gmail.com (Stella Elphick) Castles and Forts Wed, 29 Aug 2012 18:47:16 +0000