29 October, 2009

Conwy and Beaumaris

Some pics of two more of Edward I's great Welsh castles, Conwy and Beaumaris! To my almost certain knowledge, Edward II never visited Beaumaris on the island of Anglesey, but he was at Conwy in April/May 1301, around the time of his seventeenth birthday, taking the homage of his Welsh vassals after being appointed prince of Wales that February.


In the pics above, the green area with the path down the middle is the outer ward, which leads through a gateway - originally there was a drawbridge - into the inner ward, where the royal apartments were. The fourth pic down is the well, 91 feet deep.

Construction began on Conwy in 1283; for the history of the castle, take a look at the page here. Interesting Conwy fact: in January 1326, Edward II appointed Aline, Lady Burnell, constable of the castle. It was most unusual for a woman to be put in charge of such an important stronghold, though no doubt the fact that Aline was Hugh Despenser the Younger's sister was a major factor in Edward's choice.

Pics of the king's hall and the king's chamber, in the inner ward.


The name comes from the Anglo- Norman beau mareys, 'fair marsh'. For the castle's history - it was begun in 1295, and never finished - see here.

The outer gatehouse and modern entrance to the castle.

The outer ward.

(Below) The enormous inner ward.

The chapel ceiling.

The battlements, with views over the Menai Strait to the Welsh mainland.


Elizabeth said...

Great pictures, again! I wish I had been able to make it into Wales the last time I was in the area. Not so many awe-inspiring structures in Mississippi... and the scenery leaves a bit to be desired. I have really enjoyed reading all of your posts and your research is fantastic! Thanks for all the hard work :)

Rowan said...

Lovely, Alienor.
Thanks for taking me there with your pictures.

Kathryn Warner said...

Thank you for your very kind words, Elizabeth. I'm really glad you like the site, and the pics.

Thank you too, Ashmodai.

Carla said...

Amazing pictures! I haven't visited either of these castles; looks like I ought to remedy that :-)

Is there any information about Aline as constable of Conwy? E.g. how long did she hold the job (I guess not beyond Edward II's downfall?), was it just a sinecure, etc.

Anonymous said...

Amazing pictures, some of the best i've seen so far for Conwy! Thank you!

Kathryn Warner said...

Thank you for dropping by, Bella, and the kind comments!

Carla: yes, I definitely recommend both castles - they're amazing places, and I hope you get to visit them one day.

Edward II replaced Aline as constable of Conwy on 20 October 1326, nearly a month after Mortimer and Isabella's invasion and when he was already wandering around Wales - I dare say because he felt he needed a man with military experience in charge of such a great stronghold. Aline's replacement was William Ercalowe or Erkelewe, a long-term Despenser adherent who was still the steward of Hugh Despenser the younger's son in Glamorgan in 1338. Aline founded a chantry also in 1338 to pray for the souls of several people including Ercalowe, so evidently didn't bear a grudge against him!

Gabriele Campbell said...

Great photos.

Carla, I agree with Alianore, definitely plan a visit to north Wales and have a look at those Norman whoppers. :)

Kate Plantagenet said...

Great pics!

Conwy is such a 'castley' castle isn't it? Ah you know what I mean....

Thanks for posting - and I agree with Ashmodai - it feels like we were with you

Kathryn Warner said...

Thank you, Gabriele and Kate! And yes, I know exactly what you mean. :)

Anerje said...

Wonderful pictures! We are lucky to have such fantastic castles in Wales - not sure my ancestors would agree:)

Kathryn Warner said...

Thanks, Anerje! No, I don't suppose your ancestors can have been very thrilled by the building of these castles...;)

Susan Higginbotham said...

Love the pictures!

Kathryn Warner said...

Thanks, Susan!

Jules Frusher said...

I remember visiting them both before I became interested in things medieval, but they made an impression on me even then. I particularly loved Beaumaris because as far as castles go, it is 'pretty' to look at. It's a shame it was never finished though.

I shall have to go back and revisit one day - and raise a glass to Aline!

Kathryn Warner said...

I loved Beaumaris too, and was stunned at how enormous the inner ward is!

Yay to Aline - I really like her, and wish there was more info about her.