Conwy Castle - Castle Number 8 in the Castle Casanovas Challenge and Castle Number 3 in the Welsh Castles aspect. Conwy Castle is a firm family favourite of mine, having visited it numerous times during my childhood. The good thing about castles owned and preserved by CADW is that they continue to develop them so there is always something new and exciting to see and Conwy Castle is no exception. 

In September 2022, we were away as Steve's Birthday present and stayed in Rhydymwyn, which was a great base for everything we wanted to do during our Friday - Tuesday trip and certainly a great place to be for the next couple of castle trips.

As I mentioned above, Conwy Castle is preserved and looked after by Cadw. Now you know if Cadw are custodians of a castle a) there will be a decent castle to see and b) it is likely to be in good condition, with information on site and it will be structurally safe. Wales do not mess around when it comes to Castle preservation let me tell ya! 

Coming into Conwy itself you are instantly greeted by Conwy Castle. She is impressive, hard to miss and really rather breathtaking. Conwy Castle consists of its city walls, spanning 1.3km, that are in really good condition and can be walked and the castle itself which is situated in the centre, well roughly the centre, of those walls. What is so impressive about this castle is the condition of it. This is by far the most impressive, in terms of condition, castle we have visited. You can walk up the turrets, walks the castle walls themselves and see for miles the beautiful harbour and hills of Snowdonia. 

Conwy Castle was built by Edward I during his conquest of Wales. Building works commenced in 1283 and were completed in 1287. The initial phase of building commenced on the exterior curtain walls and towers and building was controlled by Sir John Bonvillars and overseen by master mason James of St George. The idea was to create a new town, protected by castle walls, to establish English reign in Wales and curtail any future rebellion. During the second phase, between 1284-1286, the interior buildings were raised and works commenced on the walls for the town and works were completed in 1287. This was a massive feat with labourers brought in from all over the country to ensure this project was completed in a timely manner. No expense was spared either and the castle and town walls cost £15,000 which at the time was a substantial sum of money. 

Once Conwy was complete she needed someone to look after her and the Castles Constable was also elected the new mayor of Conwy. There was a garrison of 30 soldiers in situ and the first constable was Sir William de Cicon. In 1294, there was a rebellion and Edward spent Christmas besieged at Conwy until he was relieved by his forces in February. After this Conwy became the main residence for visiting senior figures of the royals and their friends. 

Unfortunately, as with most castles, Conwy was not looked after properly and by the early 14th Century she was in a state of disrepair with leaky roofs and rotten timbers. Edward, the black prince, took control of Conwy Castle in 1343 and repairs were carried out. Stone arches were put in place with a view to them lasting longer and hoping to keep Conwy in better condition. Sadly, after Edward's death Conwy again fell into ruin. 

Towards the end of the 14th Century, Conwy again saw action as a refuge for Richard II. On 12 August 1399, Richard II met with Henry Percy (acting on behalf of Henry Bolingbroke) to negotiate. Richard II subsequently handed rule to Henry Bolingbroke by surrendering to Henry Percy at Flint Castle; he promised to abdicate if his life were spared - he later died in captivity at Pontefract Castle.

Henry ruled at Henry IV, the first English King since the Norman Conquest. Rebellion soon broke out again and in March 1401 there was a surprise attack on Conwy. The cousins of Owain ap Gruffyd managed to capture the castle and town and held out for three months before negotiating a surrender. 

Conwy saw little fighting during the War of the Roses, but was reinforced during this time. In 1520, Henry VIII carried out restoration works and the castle was used as a prison and place for visitors of the King to stay. Unfortunately, Conwy again fell into a state of ruin and was sold for £100 to Edward Conwy in 1627.

During the English Civil War, Conwy was cared for by the Archbishop of York on behalf of the King and was restored and reinforced at his own expense. In 1645, Sir John Owen was appointed governor of Conwy Castle. This was not the greatest decision as the Archbishop defected to Parliament and the town of Conwy fell in August 1646. In November, General Thomas Mytton took control of Conwy Castle after a siege. 

In 1655, the Council of State ordered the castle to be slighted despite much opposition from the people of Conwy. It is believed the Bakehouse was purposely destroyed during this slighting. Charles II was restored as King and Conwy Castle was returned to the Earl of Conwy (Edward Conwy). Sadly, he then decided to strip Conwy of her iron and lead and sell it. The castle was turned into a complete ruin and left.

Whilst in a ruined state, Conwy Castle was still regarded as picturesque and attracted visitors who were interested in these ruins. In 1865, repair works were carried out and the bakehouse was rebuilt to preserve Conwy Castle's history. In 1953, she was leased to the Ministry of Works and further restoration works were carried out and much research was carried out to learn more. In 1986, Conwy was officially marked as a World Heritage Site and protected. 

Conwy is now owned and managed by Cadw, who have done an incredible job of restoring and protecting her and will likely continue to do so for many years to come. I highly recommend you go and visit, because Conwy Castle is just simply stunning. 

To visit Conwy Castle it costs £11.70 for adults (18+), children under 5 are free, children (5-17) are £8.20 and Seniors aged 65+ are £11.10 - prices are correct at the time of writing in July 2023. 

Conwy Castle is accessible to children and pram friendly in parts. It is recommended you leave your pram and there is a pram store on site, which is very useful. Toilets on site are good quality and really clean. There are plenty of places to sit and rest and you can carry young children up some of the turrets (the ones with better and wider staircases). We took turns going up the more dicey turrets as we didn't want to risk falling with Alex. 

There are numerous car parks nearby in Conwy to park in. The one closest to the castle seemed rather busy so we parked around the corner near the park and it was a short 5 minute walk to the Castle, which is pram and wheelchair friendly. 

The castle took us around two hours to look around, but we really did explore every possible turret, wall and exhibit we could whilst there. There is a shop and nearby cafe too so if you fancy relaxing whilst your other half explores that is an option to. All in all an excellent castle to visit, which is family friendly and suitable for young children. We will definitely be back for another visit in a few years time! 

There we have it - Castle number 8! That means the challenge is 1.5% complete. We have 521 castles to visit - we are 8 down - that leaves 513 castles left to visit (at the time of writing as castles are being removed once we discover they have been privatised etc, which doesn't happen until we actually go to visit them). 

Stick around for more Castle related content coming to you via this blog on a weekly basis!

Until Next Time

The Castle Casanovas

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