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Haverfordwest Castle

Visited May 2015

Location Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire
Entrance Fee No
Railway Station Nearby Haverfordwest
Parking Yes
Facilities Yes- portaloo on site








The castle at Haverfordwest dominates the town's skyline, impressing locals and visitors with its presence and might. On walking up the slopes to the castle one imagines how hard it must have been to attack such a great fortress. The Welsh never gained control of the castle, despite many attempts.


Although built in stone in about 1188, the first castle on the site had been founded by Tancred, a Flemish settler, encouraged over to the wild Welsh lands by Henry I. As in the case of of nearby Wiston Castle, the Flemish settlements were eventually burned to the ground by the Welsh who were resentful of their usurpation of Wales. Although Haverfordwest  town was razed in 1220 by Llywelwyn the Great, he did not capture the castle.


This was fortunate for Queen Eleanor, wife of Edward I as it was in good condition for her visit in 1183. She enjoyed her stay so much she bought the castle and undertook repairs and improvements, including a garden on the southern slopes.


It remained a crown property for many years thereafter, and was kept in reasonable repair. The beginning of the end for the castle was the Civil War, when it changed hands several times before finally succumbing to parliamentarian forces. It was ordered to be destroyed by Cromwell, the Mayor had to request extra gunpowder  as the town did not possess enough to do the job. Being as the castle still survives today, albeit as a shell, one wonders if enough was despatched!






The remains of the castle today are free to access, but apart from the outer shell of the castle, very little remains internally. There are no accessible towers to climb, although the outline upper storey rooms can be seen on the walls. 

The castle was the town gaol for a while, and the governors house still survives today within the site. It is the home of the Haverfordwest Museum, which as the name suggests, tells the history of the town. It is small but very interesting, with a team of well informed and enthusiast volunteers on site. There is a small entrance fee, but it is worth the money for a look round.


The real problem with the castle is that nothing is being done with it. The site is owned by the county council, who seem to have very little interest in exploiting its potential. Consequently they seem to do the bare minimum. On the day we went the grass was being cut and there was no problem with litter, although this can sometimes be an issue I gather. It is a shame there are no information boards at the site, but perhaps there are just so many castles in Pembrokeshire that it is easy for the council to overlook the importance of some of them.






The town of Haverfordwest has many facilities, with a pretty decent shopping area and a great range of cafes and restaurants. As a trip to the castle & museum won't take long, there are various things to do in the town to extend your stay. Parking is pretty good although the town car parks all charge a fee. The views from the castle are certainly worth the visit .





More info:  Haverfordwest Castle

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