Outdoor Space

Grosmont Castle, Abergavenny

Striking ruins that perch in weathered defiance overlooking the countryside, Grosmont Castle on the border of England and Wales is a fascinating relic of Norman occupation. 

Tucked within the County of Monmouth in Wales yet just a few hundred yards from the Herefordshire border, Grosmont Castle is one of three castles built by the Normans. Known as the “Three Castles of Gwent”, Grosmont, along with Skenfrith and White Castle, was constructed to help quell rebellious skirmishes across the border. Originally built as an earth and timber structure in the 11th century, it was reconstructed in stone in the 13th century, when the gatehouse and circular towers were added.

If the castle was designed with turbulence in mind, then the following centuries of unrest did certainly not disappoint. Originally attributed to William FitzOsbern, Earl of Hereford after the Norman Conquest, this particular allegiance only lasted until the Earl’s death in 1071. With his family and heir expelled from the lands, the castle’s string of subsequent owners experienced little peace themselves, with local rebellions, capture and unsettled politics all constant themes. 

In the 14th century, Grosmont experienced a brief period of harmony after being inhabited by King Henry III’s second son, Edmund Crouchback. With the birth of Edmund’s son in the castle (Henry of Grosmont) in 1310, the castle was converted into a domesticized dwelling suitable for nobility – and a baby! To this day, you can still see many of the changes made, including a particularly striking chimney that stands high above the castle remains and shows off ornate details, diverging from its military roots. 

True to form though, the peace didn’t last and in the beginning of the 15th century, the castle was attacked by Welsh forces, including the famous rebel Gruffudd, son of Owain Glyndŵr. Despite a bloody battle where nearly 1,000 Welshmen died, the rebels were eventually defeated by a young Prince Henry, the future King Henry V. Part of the Last War of Independence, the battle was one of a string of significant uprisings that took place between 1400 and 1415, and ultimately led to the incorporation of Wales into England. 

While the demise of poor Gruffudd was less than glamorous, dying of the bubonic plague whilst being held prisoner in the Tower of London, the castle too began to fall into disrepair. Eventually abandoned by the 16th century before being passed into state ownership 400 years later, all that’s left today of this remarkable castle are proud remains, stubborn in their final battle with time. 

Feeling inspired? Take a look at our luxury cottages in Herefordshire here and Monmouth here.

Grosmont Castle, B4347, Grosmont, Abergavenny NP7 8EP | 01443 336 000 | https://cadw.gov.wales/visit/places-to-visit/grosmont-castle

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