Last Photographed: Wednesday 14th February 2007
Raglan castle began life as a Norman motte and bailey fortress when it was founded by William fitz Osborn sometime during the 12th Century. The later castle - the remains of which we see today - is more recent, dating back to the 15th Century.
Throughout the 13th and 14th Century, Raglan Castle was the manorial home of the Bloet family. Work on the present castle began in 1435, after Sir William ap Thomas married the heiress to Raglan, Elizabeth Bloet. William was responsible for building the "Great Tower" and the deep moat that surrounds it, but it was his son who completed the work of transforming the castle into a grand medieval fortress.
During 1549-89 William Somerset converted the two courtyards of the castle into what was effectively a fortified Elizabethan country house - complete with long gallery and extensive gardens.
Despite it's latter status as a luxurious family home, the castle lost none of its defensive prowess. In 1646, Raglan and Pendennis were the last Royalist castles holding out against Parliamentarian forces at the end of the English civil war. Henry Somerset, Marquis of Worchester, refused to surrender the castle to the forces of Sir Thomas Fairfax, and Raglan stood stubbornly proud and invulnerable in the face of a 13 week siege. The castle's impressive walls shrugged off bombardment from Royalist artillery, barely registering any damage. Only when mortars were deployed (which threatened to fire over the tops of the castle walls) was the Marquis finally obliged to surrender.
After the castle was vacated, the Parliamentarians undertook to "slight" it - undermining it with tunnels and explosives to collapse its walls and render it useless. Subsequently, the castle fell into disuse and ruin.
Today, Raglan is still an impressive sight. Despite its sorry state, the power and status that it represented are still extremely obvious. Little imagination is required to grasp just what a formidable obstacle this castle would have represented to any would-be conqueror. The remains of its spacious halls and Elizabethan windows clearly demonstrate its secondary function as an opulent home for a powerful and influential family. Every aspect of this castle's history is visible in some form or another, and any visitor could easily waste away a good half day exploring its extensive and elegant ruins.