Raglan Castle, Gwent
7 miles South West of Monmouth
Stately Raglan was built in the 15th century on the site of an earlier Norman motte castle. The great Yellow Tower of Gwent was the earliest part of the castle built with walls nearly 10 feet thick at its base. Situated in its own moat and originally with two drawbridges, this formed the keep of the castle. The castle was greatly enlarged in later years & included palatial domestic dwellings and courtyards.
Raglan is one of the most spectacular castles in the country and is very easy to find with easy access. An absolute must for any castle-finder.
~ History ~
1174 - Earl Richard de Clare (Strongbow), grants Raglan manor to Walter Bloet.
1390's - Sir James Berkeley takes possession of Raglan through his marriage to Elizabeth Bloet.
1406 - Following Jame's death, Elizabeth, 'the lady of Raggeland', of Welsh descent herself, takes
as her second husband William ap Thomas, a member of a minor Welsh gentry family.
1420 - Following Elizabeth's death, William marries another heiress, Gwladus, daughter of Sir Dafydd Gam and widow of Sir Roger Vaughan. Both these men had fought with King Henry V in France, and were both killed at the battle of Agincourt in 1415, where William had also fought.
1426 - William 'the blue knight of Gwent' is knighted by King Henry VI.
1432 - Sir William purchases the manor of Raglan from the Berkeley's for 1,000 marks (£667)
and begins building a 'Tower of great bredth and height about which is an artificiall Trench filled with water.'
1440 - Sir William is appointed sheriff of Glamorgan to add to his titles of steward to the
lordship of Abergavenny & chief steward of the duke of York's estates in Wales.
1445 - William ap Thomas dies in London and is succeeded by his eldest son, another William, who takes the name Herbert.
1450 - As his father had done before him, William serves in France but is captured at the battle of Formigny for ransom.
1460's - As a prominent Yorkist, William plays a major role in securing the throne for King Edward IV and is raised to the peerage as Lord Herbert of Raglan. His influence over national affairs and in not supporting the Lancastrian cause at the rout of Ludford, sees him rise to Sheriff of Glamorgan and constable of Usk. The following February, Herbert attaches himself to Edward, Earl of March, son of Richard Duke of York, and fights with him at the battle of Mortimer's Cross. The battle proves to be a decisive Yorkist victory. Within a month, Edward has assumed the throne as King Edward IV, making the trusted Sir William chief justice and chamberlain of south Wales as a reward for his help. Later the same year the young King creates him Baron Herbert of Raglan. His influence spreads to north Wales where he is responsible for all military operations against the Lancastrians. He is created knight of the garter and later chief justice of north Wales. The young Henry Tudor, the future King Henry VII, is placed in his custody and is brought up at Raglan Castle. Herbert's final accolade is when KIng Edward IV creates him Earl of Pembroke as a reward for his capture of Harlech Castle, the last Lancastrian stronghold in England and Wales.
1469 - William is defeated at the battle of Edgecote whilst leading an army largely composed of Welshmen. Earl William and his brother, Sir Richard Herbert, are both captured. Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick ('the kingmaker'), has them quickly executed in Northampton the very next day. Upon William's death and with his son and heir aged just fourteen, their family's influence on National affairs is at an end.
1479 - The young William suffers the indignity of having the earldom of Pembroke removed from him so that King Edward IV can bestow it upon his own son, the Prince of Wales. He is granted the earldom of Huntingdon in exchange.
1485 - Henry Tudor lands at Milford Haven to challenge Edward for the throne of England. Raglan is now in the hands of William's brother Sir Walter Herbert, who on hearing of Henry's landing quickly switches sides to welcome Henry's claim.
1502 - Walter entertain's the new King's wife at Raglan.
1508 - Following the death of Walter the previous year, his widow remarries and possession of Raglan passes to Elizabeth, the daughter of Earl William of Huntingdon, and her husband, Sir Charles Somerset.
1513 - Sir Charles commands part of King Henry VIII's army in the King's first campaign into France.
1526 - On Charles's death he is succeeded by his son Henry.
1549 - William Somerset in turn succeeds Henry and commences further building to the castle whilst undertaking various missions abroad for Queen Elizabeth I. He is made knight of the Garter in 1570 before dying in 1589.
1645 - The defeat of the royalist army at the battle of Naseby virtually seals the military fate of King Charles I. The war continues into the following year, although only a few isolated pockets of royalist resistance are left, and eventually they too fall. Raglan castle is held for the King by Henry Somerset, whom the King had created marquis of Worcester. His enormous personally wealth enables him to personally support the garrison of 800 people to the sum of £40,000. Besides this Henry had contributed £1,000,000 to the royal cause. Eventually, following continued parliamentary battery of the castle walls and with all hope lost with only Raglan and Harlech left in Royalist hands, the castle is surrendered and subsequently vigorously slighted.