Thursday, November 11, 2010

Pembroke Castle, Wales - Birthplace of King Henry VII

The life of Pembroke Castle dates back to Roman times. Originally made of earthen ramparts with a timber palisade, it has been modified over the centuries. It is impressive in size and structure, and dominates the rocky promontory next to the Pembroke River.
In 1189, it was William Marshal who undertook the huge responsibility of transforming the wooden fort into a magnificent stone castle. The inner ward was constructed first, and is of particular interest because it contains a domed roof - unique in Britain.
By all accounts the Marshal’s quarters were lavish for that time with private apartments for himself and his family within the inner ward.
Under the castle there is a cave that has been created by water erosion. It is called Wogan Cavern. It is believed to have served as a boathouse ferrying goods and people directly from the river to the castle. The cavern was fortified by a large stone wall complete with arrow slits. Standing in that vast cavern, I could only imagine the fear and noise that would come from would be attackers. Once inside the dark cave, there would be little chance of escape.
Centuries later, Jasper Tudor brought his widowed sister-in-law, Margaret Beaufort to Pembroke. In 1457, Margaret gave birth to her first and only child, Henry, who would eventually become King Henry VII of England. He was born in one of the towers now aptly named Henry VII’s Tower.
During the Civil War, Oliver Cromwell laid a seven week siege to Pembroke Castle, overtook the three main leaders accusing them of treason, and instructed the castle to be destroyed. It was quickly abandoned, the stone was reused by villagers, and the castle fell into decay.
I highly recommend a visit to Pembroke Castle to see Henry VII’s tower, the inner and outer wards, Wogan Cavern and the magnificent grounds. There is so much to see. For more information go to: