Hay on Wye Castle

Hay on Wye Castle, Powys


Castle Street, Hay on Wye





Hay on Wye is famous for its bookshops in this beautiful ancient town. They make for a facinating day out which includes the castle, of which little now remains to be able to explore, mainly due to a fire in 1979.

However we would highly recommend a visit to Hay on Wye for its bookshops, tea shops and strroll around the outside of the castle.

~ History ~

1121 ~ The first castle erected is a motte built by William Revel, one of Bernard de Newmarch's Norman knights.

1170's ~ A new castle site with a more commanding position is secured for the building of a castle in stone by Matilda de Braose, wife of the powerful William de Braose, 4th Lord of Bramber. He holds lordships and castles in Gower, Hay, Brecon, Radnor, Builth, Abergavenny, Kington, Painscatle, Skenfrith, Grosmonth, White Castle and Briouze in Normandy.

1180's ~ Matilda has a gateway arch added to the keep.

1198 ~ Matilda defends Painscastle against a massive Welsh attack led by Gwenwynwyn, Prince of Powys. She successfully holds off the Welsh forces for three weeks until Norman reinforcements arrive. Over three thousand Welsh are killed.

1199 ~ King John becomes King of England after his brother Richard I is killed whilst laying siege to a Castle in France. Braose becomes a court favourite and is also awarded the lordship of Limerick, Ireland.

Matilda supports her husband's military ambitions and he puts her in charge of Hay Castle and the surrounding territory.During their marriage they have sixteen children.

1208 ~ William de Braose quarrells with his friend and patron King John. It is alleged that Matilda had made indiscreet comments regarding the murder of King John's nephew Arthur of Brittany. There is also a large sum of money (five thousand marks) de Braose owes the King. Follwing the arguments King John demands Matilda's son William be sent to him as a hostage for her husband's loyalty. Matilda refuses, stating loudly within earshot of the King's officers that "she would not deliver her children to a king who had murdered his own nephew."

The King quickly leads troops to the Welsh border and seizes all of the castles that belong to William de Braose. Matilda and her eldest son William flee to Ireland, where they find refuge at Trim Castle with the de Lacys, the family of her daughter Margaret.

1210 ~ King John sends an expedition to Ireland. Matilda and her son escape but are apprehended in Galloway by Donnchadh, Earl of Carrick. After being briefly held at Carrickfergus Castle,they are dispatched to England.

Matilda and her son William are first imprisoned at Windsor Castle, but are shortly afterwards transferred to Corfe Castle in Dorset where they are placed inside the dungeon. Matilda and William are both starved to death.

1211 ~ William de Braose dies in exile in France where he had fled disguised as a beggar to escape King John's wrath after he had been declared by the King an outlaw, following his alliance with Prince Llywelyn the Great, whom he had assisted in open rebellion against the King, an act which John regarded as treason. He is buried in the Abbey of St. Victor, Paris.

1216 ~ King John burns the Castle and Hay whilst attempting to suppress the rebellion of Giles and Reginald de Braose. Later that same year King John dies.

1231 ~ Hay Castle is burnt again by Llywelyn Fawr. The castle is later rebuilt by King Henry III.

1232 ~ King Henry II grants the townsfolk of Hay the right to collect a special toll to pay for walling of the town with stone.

1264 ~ The castle is captured by Prince Edward.

1265 ~ The castle is again captured, this time by Simon de Montfort's forces.

1400 ~ Both town and castle suffer damage by Owain Glyndwr's forces.

1403 ~ The castle is recorded as being ruinous as a result of Glyndwr's attack on the castle.

1404 ~ King Henry IV gives orders that Hay on wye castle be re-garrisoned as part of wider preparations for his next campaign into South Wales.

1460's ~ The castle now in the hands of the Earls of Stafford, later Dukes of Buckingham, suffers further damage during the Wars of the Roses.

1521 ~ The last Duke is executed by Henry VIII.

1660 ~ James Boyle of Hereford builds himself a new mansion on the site of the castle. Most of the curtain wall is demolished during the Civil War.