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Published: March 23rd 2019
Gabby the motorhome is parked up on our plot at Kiln Park. First job to try the showers out. They do work eventually but at first the water is cold. It feels as cold as the weather we are experiencing. Gabby is hooked up to the electricity, the gas is working well but there is no WiFi on site. We have to walk down to the restaurant and terrace to get free WiFi. So we don't bother. We are parked up on a plot which sits on an area called Daffodil. Each road has its own name. The field next door Poppy. We have seagulls landing on the roof of our neighbours . They do struggle flying against the wind. Wobbling about we jokingly refer to this as the "s"eagull has landed in deference to the film. Ok we have a weird sense of humour. They sound like a head of elephants as they trample across the roof. They are so ungainly and fat. Life though is very comfortable in Gabby but we have to nip out for the day. We are heading off for Pembroke. Yes it is another castle. This time Pembroke.
Glenn has done the homework on
parking. It seems Pembrokeshire are much more motorhome friendly . We have a list of car parks which do not have height barriers . If we overlap two spaces we just pay for two. We cannot stay overnight though which is a shame . Shame for the town as we would love to have spent some money there and seen the town at night. Our destination was the town of Pembroke . Its castle is not just any old castle . It has a unique place in history.
Gabby is now parked up beneath the castle. We are alongside the river and it is still raining . The car park is empty and we find a good spot as always out of the way so as not to bother other people. Perhaps normally the car park would be heaving. It seems the poor weather are keeping folks in. Where are the locals? I put my £4 in the meter . We have 3 hours of parking. We won't need it. It is just a small walk to the castle and given the weather we won't be staying long. It is a hefty hike uphill to the castle. Over the
river and into the town. We have pay today. This castle is not CADW but run by a heritage trust. Entrance fee is £6 each. Lets hope it is worth it.
We enter through the shop as you always do and find ourselves in a massive grassy courtyard. The first castle on the site was started in 1093 by Arnulf of Montgomery. The castle sits above the Pembroke River. 100 years later the castle was gifted by Richard I to William Marshall one of the most powerful men in 12th century Britain. It was his castle that we stood within today.
By 1400 Owain Glyndwr had begun his rebellion in Wales , Pembroke unlike many towns and castles escaped attack only because the constable paid Glyndwr off. If he had not there would not be much of the castle left today. In 1452 the castle and earldom was presented to Jasper Tudor and this is where our interest in the castle begins.
It's an impressive building with ramparts and towers on all corners. EAch tower had a name - the Henry VII tower being the first we entered. Outside was a recording that could be played which
told the history of the tower. The trust certainly had made a good job of explaining the castles history in a simple style. Jasper sounded a touch cheesy though as he told us that he was the uncle of Henry Tudor who later would become King Henry VII. He told of the English stealing the land belonging to the Welsh lords , of oppression of the language and the culture and of colonisation. He spoke of Margaret Beaufort mother of Henry.
Upstairs was a tableaux (one of many) which depicted Margaret having just given birth to Henry, She had handed him to a nursemaid who was putting the swaddled child into a cot. A further nursemaid was warming clothes by the fire. A small fire that did little to warm the room . It was in 1457 that the 14 year old Margaret gave birth to baby Henry. She never had any more children. The tableaux showed an older woman and it felt wrong. She was 14 , probably underdeveloped and it would have been a burden on her health to give birth at such a young age. With 21st century eyes we cannot believe that a 14 year old child could be both married and giving birth to a child when she was hardly a child herself. Her husband would probably have been put on the sex offenders register had he been around today.
We have followed Henry now from his birthplace to his exile in Sussinio in Brittany. From his return to Britain to the Battle at Bosworth where he became King. Later we would try to find the exact beach he landed on in Pembrokeshire . That though is another tale and let me let you into a little secret - we didn't get there despite trying.
Inside the second tower was the Great Hall set out with trestle table and lords feasting. The locals in the town would not have had a taste of such luxury. The third held a display on the Civil War and its effect on the castle.
We walked onto the ramparts and into the Great Keep, the solar and the guardroom. The lawn had a map on it which depicted all the castles in Wales . In the north we could see the Iron ring of Edward , from Denbigh to Criccieth and the castles of the South from Cardiff to Pembroke . if we didn't know how many castles there were in Wales before then we could see them before our eyes now. It was eyewatering and sad to see them all. Stories of countless invasions of our country. From the Romans to the Normans and from the Normans to Edward II.
Time for coffee , the usual hot chocolate and a welsh cake before moving on. We wanted something hot but sadly the café on site did not offer bacon or sausage sandwiches nor hot soup. Missing a trick there in such inclement weather. We intended calling at Tesco for milk and a new Carbon Monoxide alarm. We still don't know if we bought a new one for Gabby or if the one that does not work is from Suzy. It doesn't matter how much we try to remember we just cannot.
Next stop the Martello tower of Pembroke Dock . A bit of military history coming up after our castle visit.
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