Monmouthshire 4 - Near Abergavenny/ The White Castle /the narrow lanes with high hedges/

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July 11th 2019
Published: July 11th 2019
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Gabby the motorhome parked up last night on the Erw Lon campsite near to Llandovery. A fairly small site less regimented than a Caravan and Motorhome Club site. No pitching up to the white peg, no demands to park the right way and cheaper by some way. We were on a serviced pitch with water and electricity. The site was fairly busy and there was a little road noise which we soon got used to. The toilet block had been awarded the loo of the year in 2007 (if I remember accurately) and there were tidy single showers and wash rooms and some family rooms . The family rooms sadly were a little untidy . Not the problem of the room or the owners just the person who used it before us left bits of toilet paper on the floor. Rather than pick it up they let it get wet and soggy and just left it. Apart from that we had a quiet night and would go to the site again if we were ever this way,

After a leisurely breakfast something we can get used to we headed off for our first castle of the trip. The White Castle - Castell Gwyn also known as Llantilio Castle is a ruined castle close to the village of Llantilio Crossenny. It took us a while to drive up to the castle along narrow lanes with high hedges. We virtually had the place to ourselves. Luckily there was a small car park which Gabby just about fitted on, The castle was free to us with our CADW membership. Always a bonus.

The castle was established as were many by the Normans when they first invaded England in 1066, Built in order to protect the route from Wales to Hereford. Of stragegic importance it was commissioned by William fitz Osbern who was the Earl of nearby Hereford. It originally comprised three large earthworks with timber defences. Nothing major just sufficient to serve the needs. In 1135, a major Welsh revolt took place and in response King Stephen brought together White Castle and its sister fortifications of Gromont and Skenfrith. We had made plans to do a tour of all three known locally as the Three Castles. Once we had driven down the lane to this one we made the decision not to bother with the rest of them. We had checked them out and thought that this one was the best of the bunch.

Our first thoughts were that there was little to the castle. It is odd how sometimes you make an instant decision about a place only to find that in reality it is either much better or much worse than you expected. We could see the gatehouse into the castle and wandered over. We walked towards it reading the information boards which told us about Hubert de Burgh who was lord of the castle in 1201 and how it passed back and forth between de Burgh and the de Braose family. The Crown eventually took control of the castle . . Once we got to the Gatehouse it was obvious there was more to this castle than we first thought. Complete stone curtain walls with arrow slots and , towers on each corner. By 1267 the whole complex was in the hands of Edmund Earl of Lancaster and stayed in the hands of the duchy until 1825. There was only one other lady inside and she was standing on the walkway over the moat. She was taking photographs from this view and from that. She seemed to take forever . We wanted her to move so we could get inside and see what was within the inner walls. We had to wait five minutes although it felt like an eternity. Eventually we got inside and had the place virtually to ourselves.

By the 12th century the conquest of Wales removed the castles military purpose and some 300 years later it had fallen into disuse and ruin. It was atmospheric walking across the now dry moat into the inner parts of the castle.

We love castles and it was worth the detour to drop in on this one . The biggest problem would be the drive back . Driving along those narrow lanes . As we reached Abergavenny we hit the traffic. Our journey was stop , start and stop again as the local car boot sale was being held in a field and cars were coming up to the sale. It took us a while to get into Abergavenny and we began to plan our next stop. It is another castle - this time Raglan. Now that looks a mighty impressive castle.


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