History, tourist information, and nearby accommodation
HERITAGE HIGHLIGHTS: A superb example of an early medieval castle and town walls
History of Chepstow Castle
The first castle at Chepstow was erected in 1067 by William fitz Osbern, a Norman follower of William the Conqueror. Fitz Osbern fought beside William at the Battle of Hastings, and was rewarded with the earldom of Hereford as well as extensive lands in south Wales.
Fitz Osbern wanted a castle to control the main river crossing over the Wye, on the main route into Wales. He chose a narrow promontory overlooking the river for his fortress, and the geography of the site influenced the design of the castle over the next few centuries. The constricted site meant that Chepstow developed into a very long, narrow castle, with one ward leading to another along a vertical axis. Most Norman castles erected soon after the Conquest were simple wooden affairs, often constructed atop a small motte, with wooden structures atop the motte for defense and domestic use. Chepstow was different; it was built in stone right from the start, using stone from Caerwent Roman town to create a tower enclosed by wooden baileys.
When the Marshall line died out the castle passed to the Earl of Norfolk, Roger Bigod II, who further strengthened the defenses and created comfortable domestic apartments, turning the military fortress into a lavish mansion. He also added a strong stone wall to enclose the town. Only fragments of the town walls remain, including the gateway known as Town Gate. Further enhancements to the living areas were added in the early Tudor period by Charles Somerset.
Chepstow saw action in the Civil War. It was held for the king in 1645 and again in 1648, but each time it was captured by Parliament. After the Restoration of the Monarchy in 1660 the castle was used as a prison and military garrison. The most famous prisoner was Henry Martyn, one of the Parliamentary leaders who had signed Charles I's death warrant. Martyn was held for over 20 years in the tower to the left of the main entrance, a tower which now bears his name.
The castle was then left to decay for over 200 years, becoming a derelict ruin, though one often visited by artists, who thought it a suitably picturesque subject for romantic paintings. Today it is in the care of Cadw, Welsh Heritage.
Almost immediately beside the castle site is Chepstow Museum, housed in an elegant late 18th century house, and a short walk away is Chepstow Priory, a wonderful early medieval church.
About Chepstow Castle
Address: Chepstow, Monmouthshire, Wales, NP16 5EY
Attraction Type: Castle
Location: Just off the A48 in the heart of Chepstow. Well signposted. Parking beside the castle.
Website: Chepstow Castle
Chepstow Castle Photos
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express
We've 'tagged' this attraction information to help you find related historic attractions and learn more about major time periods mentioned.
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castle (Architecture) - Civil War (Architecture) - Earl of Pembroke (Historical Reference) - Medieval (Time Period) - Norman (Architecture) - Parliamentary (Historical Reference) - Restoration (Historical Reference) - Roger Bigod (Person) - Roman (Time Period) - Tudor (Time Period) - William Marshall (Person) - William the Conqueror (Person) -
NEARBY HISTORIC ATTRACTIONS
Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low-exceptional) on historic interest
Chepstow Museum - 0.1 miles (Museum)
Chepstow Priory - 0.2 miles (Abbey)
Chepstow Port Wall - 0.3 miles (Historic Building)
Chepstow, Bulwark Camp - 0.9 miles (Prehistoric Site)
Veddw House Garden - 2.5 miles (Garden)
Runston Chapel - 2.8 miles (Historic Church)
Tintern Abbey - 3.7 miles (Abbey)
Caerwent Castle - 4.2 miles (Castle)
Nearest Accommodation to Chepstow Castle:
Nearest Self Catering Cottages
Nearest Bed and Breakfasts