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Kidwelly Castle

Visited April 2017

Location Kidwelly, Carmarthenshire, Wales
Entrance Fee Yes
Railway Station Nearby Kidwelly, approx. 1 mile
Parking Yes 
Facilities Toilets, Cafe, Gift shop


Kidwelly is a small, quiet town in Carmarthenshire, with a population of about 3,500. It also has one of the best castle ruins in Wales, in our humble opinion. Concentric , and an unusual 'D' shape in design, it was built to defend the welsh territories against rebellion. In its heyday the castle was an important stronghold , controlling the River Gwendraeth which flows below it. Although it alternated between English and Welsh control several times in its long history, it was finally captured by the English in 1403 after a three week siege. It remained in the ownership of the English crown thereafter. 






The first thing you see when approaching the castle today is the great gatehouse. This took over a hundred years to be built, and was designed to withstand an attack independently of the main castle if necessary. It was also a sign of the owners wealth and status, and contained comfortable accommodation for the constable of the castle. It still looks pretty impressive today, with its twin towers and machicolations to the front. There were twenty rooms in the gatehouse, including several basement rooms which can be visited. Looking at the front of the gatehouse it is noticeable that the window openings get wider the higher up the building. So the basements have very narrow slits, mainly to protect the archers. In the domestic rooms at the very top the openings are much wider to let in more light and so make the room more pleasant to live in. 


Once inside the castle ward there are other such noticeable features, such as the kidney shaped north west tower, which was said to have been used as a prison. Also the castle chapel, which projects outwards from the castle towards the river, a unique aspect of this castle.


There are many buildings to explore within the ward, and several climbable towers. The main attraction though are the battlements which are almost complete around the outer walls. This is the reason Mum has soft spot for the castle- on visiting with her family as a child Mum remembers having a great time running along the battlements (apparently with very little adult supervision) Unfortunately this was not possible on her most recent visit because for some reason parts of the battlements were cordoned off to the public, which was disappointing. (Plus Mum cannot run like she could as a child anymore, which is also disappointing!)





The other thing that was appealing about this castle (to the children anyway) was the castle cat, a black & white cat who greeted us at the gatehouse, marched us across the drawbridge and followed us into the basement. Apparently she is the Kidwelly Castle cat. A cat is a mascot of Kidwelly, as a black cat was the only living creature in the town to have survived the plague. She was certainly very friendly and seemed completely used to visitors. 





The castle has a gift shop and toilets in the visitor centre, but no cafe. We headed up Castle Street and through the original outer gateway of the castle and found a lovely cafe called 'The Gatehouse' and had a fantastic all-day breakfast. This fortified us for a walk around the nature reserve which lies to the west of the castle. All in all a good day out at one of the best preserved castles of Wales.





More info:  CADW Kidwelly Castle

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