Laugharne Castle ('...brown as owls' - Dylan Thomas) stands on the ruins of a Roman Fort. Built by the Normans c.1116 it was rebuilt by Guy de Brian in 1216. Henry 11 stayed here in 1171-1172 to negotiate truce with Rhys ap Gruffudd, ruler of Deheubarth, and opponent of Norman authority. Peace lasted until the king's death in 1189. The castle was destroyed in 1256 and transformed into a fortified house by Sir John Perrot (1558-1592) in the 16th century - hence the large sea-facing window. Perrot was a favourite of Queen Elizabeth I (and rumoured to be an illegitimate son of Henry VIII), but had enemies both in London and South West Wales. In 1591 he was imprisoned in the Tower of London, charged with treason and condemned to death. However, ill health, or possibly poisoning, finished him off before the executioner had a chance..
The Castle frequently changed hands following Perrot's demise, until Sir Sackville Crowe conveyed it to Sir William Russell in 1627. Russell, a Royalist, picked the wrong side in the Civil War and Laugharne was captured by Major General Rowland Laugharne's Parliamentarian troops in 1644 following a five day siege. Under Oliver Cromwell's watchful eye, cannon fire from the hills of where Seasons and the Orchard Park stand today did the main damage, but victory was assured by cutting off the water supply. During Tudor times Laugharne was the 7th biggest town in Wales, but the siege ended Laugharne's importance as a military and trading stronghold. Partially dismantled to prevent it becoming a stronghold for Welsh bandits, the Castle declined into a romantic ruin and became the subject of a dramatic watercolour (see above) by JMW Turner..
By the nineteenth century it had effectively become the garden of Castle House and was the property of the Starke family. Author of 'High Wind in Jamaica', Richard Hughes rented it from them and drew inspiration writing in the gazebo overlooking the estuary. In 1973 Miss Anne Starke passed the Castle into the guardianship of the Secretary of State for Wales and restoration work began, which included stripping back the cloak of ivy, which was to continue until 1993. Today the Castle is maintained by CADW and open to the public from April until Autumn each year. Those brave enough to climb to the top of the Tower and look down upon the township will be treated to one of the most spectacular views around. The much-photographed castle now holds the Laugharne Food Fair during the Laugharne Weekend.
View from the castle tower
Fishermen below castle c. 1920
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