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Llawhaden Castle

Visited May 2015

Location Llawhaden, Pembrokeshire
Entrance Fee No
Railway Station Nearby No 
Parking Yes - in village
Facilities None


Llawhaden Castle was technically a Bishop's residence, belonging as it did to the Bishops of St. Davids. However, after the original wooden structure was razed to the ground in 1193 by the Welsh under Lord Rhys, it was re-built in stone as a fortified castle with a large curtain wall. This was needed as the area was still volatile and not yet fully under Norman control. Therefore it always fulfilled the role of castle rather than palace and so has always been known as such.






The castle as it is today is mainly the work of Bishop Adam de Houghton, who in the 1380's ordered major re-structuring work on the castle. The master of works for the project was John Fawle, who then built the gatehouse for his residence, as he was then made constable of the castle. The gatehouse is still one of the most recognisable parts of the castle to this day. 






The castle was garrisoned for a while during Owain Glydwyr's rebellion, but after that fell into disuse, except for the role as the Bishop's prison. The entrance to the oubliette can still be seen in the floor of the chapel tower. There is a modern wooden staircase to the first floor of the chapel tower, with access to the second floor by means of an internal stone staircase. 


Next to the chapel tower is the porch, this is an unusual feature as it was five storeys high. Its numerous windows offered stunning views across the valley.





The site also offers the remains of the great hall, with parts of the undercroft . There is also the remains of the bakehouse, the foundations of a 13th century tower and the castle well. What is not on offer is any sort of facilities, and Llawhaden village is pretty quiet, with nowhere seeming to provide facilities. The castle is at the end of a narrow cul-de-sac, however there is parking at the top of the road, with a short walk down to the site. We were the only visitors there the day we went, but it was a very cold day in May so maybe that had some influence over visitor numbers.


We recommend viewing Llawhaden Castle along with St Davids Bishop's Palace and Lamphey Bishop's Palace, which were both once residences of the Bishops of Pembrokeshire.





More info:  CADW Llawhaden Castle

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