Pembrokeshire & West Wales - Castles & Gardens
A motte and bailey castle had been built a mile south of the current site about 1110, later reinforced with stone. The castle was captured by Owain Gwynedd in 1136 before changing hands at least 3 more times before being captured by Llywelyn the Great in 1221. The Welsh prince razed this castle and rebuilt another one in its place. Building work started on Edward I's castle in 1277 and was not complete when the Welsh briefly captured and burned it in 1282. Construction ceased in 1289 and the castle was subjected to a lengthy siege during the revolt of Madog ap Llywelyn in 1294-5. By 1307 a borough was thriving outside the castle walls, though historical accounts suggest that the castle had already begun to fall into disrepair by 1343. Owain Glyndwr's forces took possession of it in 1404 but it was recaptured by the English in 1408. In 1637 Aberystwyth Castle was designated as a Royal mint by Charles I. The mint's operator raised a regiment of Royalist soldiers during the English Civil War but Cromwell slighted the castle in 1649. The ruins, in the centre of which stands a bardic circle of stones to mark the National Eisteddfod in the town in 1916, overlook Aberystwyth Harbour.
Bwlch y Geuffordd
Although at 1000 ft above sea level natural conditions are poor, an extraordinary garden has been created at Bronant, between Aberystwyth and Tregaron. Ponds, a lake, waterfalls and bridges, with formal and wild gardens and a wealth of sculptures and exciting planting - and plenty of seating to enjoy the variety.
Llanerchaeron is a small estate in the beautiful Aeron Valley and has survived almost unaltered since the C18th. Today it is a working organic farm with two large walled gardens, all in a parkland setting with ornamental lake and very pleasant walks.
Cae Hir Gardens
A garden with a difference, begun over 20 years ago by a Dutchman, but sitting very comfortably in the Welsh countryside between Temple Bar and Cribyn! A mature haven of peace and tranquility for wildlife as well as visitors, expertly balancing natural and cultivated. Six acres including a bog garden, bonsai and wild flowers.
A motte and bailey castle was built at Cardigan as early as 1093 a mile away from the present site. The forerunner of the present castle was built by Gilbert Fitz Richard and handed down to his son, the 1st Earl of Pembroke in 1136. In the same year, Owain Gwynedd led the defeat of the Norman rulers in Cardigan. The castle was later retaken by the Normans but in 1166 was captured by Rhys ap Gruffydd, who transformed Cardigan into the first Welsh built stone castle. In 1197 Rhys held the first Eisteddfod here to celebrate Welsh culture. Disputes following Rhys's death brought the castle to King John and it changed hands again and again. Badly damaged and made uninhabitable during the English Civil War, in the C19th a private mansion was built in the inner bailey incorporating the remains of the castle wall and buildings. Restoration work has started inside the walls of Cardigan Castle, the beginning of a 14 month project to restore the site which will be developed into a centre for the community with a heritage centre and open air concert area. The scheme, the result of a 14 years' campaign to save the site, will restore the Regency house, outbuildings and gardens that are within the 12th century walls. The castle is due to open to the public in April 2014.
Cilgerran is a C13th castle in the attractive village of Cilgerran, a couple of miles south of Cardigan on the River Teifi. It sits on a rocky promontory above the river and, although two substantial towers remain, it is now mostly in ruins. An earth and timber castle is believed to have been built around 1100, though the existing masonry dates from the C13th. It is thought that Cilgerran castle may have been the scene of the abduction of Nest, wife of Gerald of Windsor, by Owain ap Cadwgan at Christmas 1109. In 1215 the castle was taken by Llywelyn the Great and in 1223 was recaptured by William Marshal the younger, Earl of Pembroke, who rebuilt it in its present form.
A four acre garden nestling at the bottom of a wooded hillside. Herb garden, kitchen garden, maple garden, rhododendron walks and a bog, all linked by meandering paths which finally end up at a gazebo. From here you can join the public footpath that leads to the National Trust cove at Ceibwr Bay.
Lovely gardens of 6.5 acres ranging from a wild dingle to more formal gardens with borders. A perfumed, peaceful haven overlooking the Preseli Hills, with an incredible range of plants and plenty of seating to pause and enjoy the beautiful surroundings. Excellent bird watching too!
Pembroke Castle's history is one of inheritance and acquisition rather than wars and sieges. A castle was established in 1093 during the Norman invasion and in the C12th the old earth and wood fort was turned into an impressive stone castle built on a rock promontory surrounded by water. In the later C13th it became a military base for fighting the Welsh princes during Edward I's conquest of North Wales. Pembroke Castle escaped attack by Owain Glyndwr in 1400 and eventually came to the Tudor dynasty; the future King Henry VII was born here in 1457.
At the outbreak of the English Civil War, unlike most of South Wales, Pembroke declared for Parliament. Besieged by Royalist troops, it was saved after Parliamentarians arrived by sea. Pembroke's leaders changed sides in 1648 and led a Royalist uprising but Oliver Cromwell then came and took the Castle after a seven week siege and ordered it to be destroyed. It remained in ruins until 1880 when a restoration project began but nothing further was done until 1928 when Sir Ivor Philipps acquired the castle and started extensive restorations. After his death a trust was set up, managed by his family and Pembroke Town council. Open to the public, it is the largest privately-owned castle in Wales.
Carew castle, 4 miles NE Pembroke, stands on the river Carew at a site that has been used for military purposes for over 2000 years. Originally Norman, it shows a mixture of styles as modifications were made over successive centuries. In the C15th it came into the hands of Rhys ap Thomas, who extended the castle with luxurious apartments. But when his grandson was executed for treason by Henry VIII, the castle reverted to the crown. It was finally re-purchased by the de Carew family in 1607 but changed hands three times during the Civil War. At the Restoration the castle was returned to the de Carews until 1686, after which it was left to decay. The family still owns the catle, although it is leased to Pembrokeshire Coast National Park and for the past 25 year or so substantial restoration has been funded by Cadw.
An adventurous plantsman's garden of 6 acres, including a bog garden, fernery, roses, courtyard, an orchard, wildflower meadows, a large pond and circular wood - and also some intriguing sculptures and a Magic Garden! Backed by the Preseli Hills in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park near Fishguard.
Penlan-Uchaf Farm Garden
A beautifully landscaped 3 acre garden around a working farm in the heart of the Gwaun Valley, with stunning views of the Preseli Hills. In addition to alpine beds, herb gardens, a fast flowing stream and ponds, it has a sensory garden for the blind & less able and plenty of seating.
Hilton Court Gardens
A transformation of open fields and woodlands into 12 acres of outstanding gardens. Rustic bridge along wildflower and lakeside paths, 250 year old woodland, themed gardens and a sculpture trail. Enjoy the beauty and tranquility of these delightful gardens overlooking St Bride's Bay in Pembrokeshire Coast National Park.
Picton Castle Gardens
A C13th castle surrounded by extensive woodland gardens in Pembrokeshire Coast National Park close to the Cleddau Estuary. Here are some of the largest and oldest trees in West Wales, an enchanting walled garden with fountain, formal borders, a large herb collection and a maze. Beautiful woodland shrubs and unique rhododendrons.
Colby Woodland Garden
An 8 acre garden with a fine display of colour especially in spring, located in a tranquil, secluded valley near Amroth with wooded pathways offering lovely walks. Beautiful views, a walled garden and one of the best rhododendron & azalea collections in Wales.
Set among thickly wooded slopes close to the Carew River in a tranquil, lesser known area of the National Park, 35 acres of gardens - noted particularly for rhododendrons, camellias and magnolias - surround a medieval castle. There are also formal terraces with herbaceous borders and rose gardens, a Victorian kitchen garden and woodland & bluebell walks to the estuary. Open April to October.
National Botanic Garden of Wales
Situated deep in the Towy Valley, only about 6 miles from Aberglasney, an unique experience has been created for visitors to the National Botanic Garden, which is dedicated to the research and conservation of biodiversity. This is one of the most fascinating attractions in Wales, with an unbelievable range of gardens and several important plant collections that are unique to the rest of the world. See the Mediterranean landscape in the world's biggest single span glasshouse, designed by Norman Foster & partners, the Tropical Glasshouse and the Double Walled Garden which includes a modern kitchen garden.