Carew Castle - Pembrokeshire, Wales

carew castle - walesAfter their initial conquest, the Normans extended their domination of England to that also of Wales. 

Gerald De Windsor, was the constable of Pembroke Castle, the main fortress of the time on behalf of Henry I and he duly decided to build his own fortress on the Carew River just a few miles from Pembroke. 

This first major fortification (there had been earlier iron age and dark age settlements on the site) would probably have been built simply of earth and wooden stakes.  Much of the stone Castle which replaced that was built by Sir Nicolas De Carew - in particular the east and west ranges.

Sir Rhys ap Thomas (1449 AD-1525 AD) later greatly extended and improved the castle and added many new features.  He was much in favour with both Henry the VII and Henry VIII and was said to rule the area like a king.  In a final development which changed Carew from a mediaeval fortress into an Elizabethan manor, Sir John Perrot built the great Northern range although he sadly died in the Tower of London before the work could be completed.  During the civil war, the castle, now in the possession of Sir George Carew, a royalist, changed hands four times.  Following the civil war the castle was in use for some few years before being eventually abandoned in 1686 AD.

The ruins of this once great castle stand in the Pembrokeshire National Park overlooking a 23 acre millpond and one fact of spooky interest is that over half the species of bat in Britain can be found there!

Close to the castle is an 11th century Celtic Cross and the restored Carew Tidal Mill -- the only one of its kind in Wales still intact.

Three ghosts are said to haunt the castle.  The beautiful Princess Nest is the first of them and this is her story.  Henry I apparently fell in love with her but after she had borne him a son, he arranged for her to go back to Wales and marry Gerald de Windsor who was unfortunately much older than her.  It seems that Carew was to be part of her dowry.  Later however the story goes that Carew was captured by a Welsh prince called Owain who had fallen for Nests beauty sometime earlier.  Although Gerald was able to save his own and his children's lives by hiding in the sewers, Nest stayed behind and it was not until six years later that he managed to rescue her and to kill Owain in the process.  Sadly however he died in battle shortly afterwards and to this day Nests ghost is said to haunt the ruins waiting to Gerald to return.  One report says that her white figure was once seen to appear in a group photograph taken on a children's visit to the castle!

Another ghost still said to haunt Carew Castle is that of the eccentric Sir Roland Rhys who habited the castle in the 17th century.  Legend has it that Sir Roland was killed by his own pet ape!  Accordingly the north-west tower of the castle is said to this day to be haunted by the ghosts of both Sir Roland and his pet ape!