UK Travel Guide


Conwy Castle

Description: Conwy is probably the most majestic of all the castles in Wales that were designed by Edward I's master castle builder James of St. George. It has eight huge towers and a high curtain wall. The castle and town are protected by a wall and this provided an extra layer of defences against any invaders. The wall is well-preserved and helps the town maintain a medieval character. Building of the castle started in in 1283 and was an important part of King Edward I's plan of surrounding Wales in "an iron ring of castles" to subdue the rebellious population. The wall around the town was built to protect the English inhabitants against the native Welsh population who were opposed to the English occupation. The rock on which it is built was the determinant of the castle's layout. However, this is not to underestimate the skill of the architect, James of St. George, who has demonstrated his skill and understanding of military architecture. For example the castle is divided internally into two wards with a dividing wall which meant that if one half of the castle fell to an attack, the other half could continue to defend the remainder. King Edward gained control of the Conwy valley in March 1283. Work commenced on the new fortress almost immediately, and plans were drawn up for the garrison town, all of which were to be enclosed in a complete circuit of walls and towers. The Castle and the town walls were completed in an amazingly short period of four years between 1283 and 1287. During the rebellion of Madog ap Llywelyn in 1295, King Edward was actually besieged at Conwy. The walls stood firm against this attack. In the 14th Century, Edward, the Black Prince carried out some alterations. Conwy is said to have been captured as the result of a trick in 1401. On Good Friday, with most of the garrison at church, a carpenter gained access and admitted a group of Welsh rebels who proclaimed their allegiance to Owain Glyndwr. Most were pardoned when the castle was finally returned to the crown, others were jailed. For many years the castle was not properly maintained and it was bought by Viscount Conwy in 1628 for just 100 pounds. Conwy saw some action in the Civil War, but afterwards was left to the elements. The castle is now managed by CADW (Welsh Historic Monuments).
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Notes: The castle is open daily all year round and further information can be obtained by telephoning 01492 592358.