History, tourist information, and nearby accommodation
One of the unusual features at Laugharne is the striking medieval domed roof in the north west tower. This is one of the largest medieval domes in Wales. It may not come across in these photos, but in person it is really amazing how the medieval masons managed to create the structure. It is a testament to their skill that the dome is still intact.
Laugharne reverted to the crown on Perrot's death, and an extensive survey of the estate gives us a good picture of the castle at the end of the 16th century. The survey describes a fountain in the inner court, a stately stair and a 'faire hall, at ye upper end whereof is a great dyning chamber'. One gets the impression of a comfortable Elizabethan mansion rising from the medieval castle.
Laugharne was badly damaged in the Civil War period, as were so many other castles in south Wales. In 1644 it was captured by a Royalist force under Sir Charles Gerard, but after King Charles's defeat at Marston Moor in July of that year Gerard withdrew into England, leaving only a token garrison. In October 1644 a Parliamentarian force under Major General Rowland Laugharne gathered 2000 men and besieged the castle. The castle garrison held out for a week, but after the Parliamentarians launched a night attack the garrison surrendered.
By this time the castle had already begun to be transformed from a military fortress into a comfortable home. The two large round towers in the inner ward were connected by a Tudor hall. In the 18th century a new mansion house was built in the 16th century castle gardens, and finally, part of the castle grounds were altered in the Victorian period to create a picturesque garden.
Laugharne has several literary associations. For many years Castle House was occupied by Richard Hughes, author of High Wind in Jamaica and In Hazard. Laugharne village was also the home of poet Dylan Thomas, who captured the beauty of the castle ruins in several of his poems. Both Thomas and Hughes used a small summer house built into the castle wall as a writing retreat. A short walk along the shore or following a signposted path along the top of the cliffs brings you to Dylan Thomas's Boat House, where the poet lived for the final four years of his tragically short life.
Visiting Laugharne Castle
There is a well-signposted car park below the castle, by the shore, and you can walk below the towering walls and come around the castle from below, or follow an even shorter route to the main gates on the townward side of the parking area. The lower route gives you a good look at the summer house used by Hughes and Thomas, which projects out from the medieal wall like some sort of modern castle tower.
Though the exterior of the castle seems like a perfectly preserved medieval fortress, the interior preserves much more the sense of a comfortable Tudor mansion, with the 16th century gatehouse giving an impression of aspiration to grandeur rather than a grimly defensive structure. The castle buildings are largely ruinous, though you can climb a spiral stair to the top of a tower and look down on the site from a wonderful vantage point. The tower gives you an excellent view of the later gardens, with carefully trimmed hedges creating a formal pattern of walkways.
Our family enjoyed Laugharne, though in truth it did not take us terribly long to explore the ruins. The setting is wonderful, with terrific views across the Taf estuary.
About Laugharne Castle
Address: King Street, Laugharne, Carmarthenshire, Wales, SA33 4SA
Attraction Type: Castle
Location: on Taf River estuary. Access from A4066 St Clears.
Website: Laugharne Castle
Phone: 01994 427906
OS: SN303 107
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express
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NEARBY HISTORIC ATTRACTIONS
Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low-exceptional) on historic interest
Dylan Thomas Boat House - 0.2 miles (Historic Building)
Laugharne, St Martin - 0.2 miles (Historic Church)
Llansteffan Castle - 3 miles (Castle)
St Clears Castle - 3.2 miles (Castle)
Whitland, Ciffig Church - 6.2 miles (Historic Church)
Kidwelly Castle - 7 miles (Castle)
Kidwelly, St Mary's Church - 7 miles (Historic Church)
Whitland Abbey - 7.5 miles (Abbey)
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