Caerphilly castle is one of the most impressive examples of medieval castle building in Great Britain. Construction of the castle commenced in 1272 under the orders of Marcher Lord, Baron Gilbert de Clare. De Clare built the castle to prevent his powerful rival Llewelyn ap Gruffyd from invading the area.

Gilbert de Clare invades and captures the district of Senghennydd from Gruffyd ap Rhys.
Gilbert de Clare starts building Caerphilly castle in response to a claim of ownership to the Senghennydd district by the Prince of Wales.
The Prince of Wales successfully assaults the fledgling castle. Much of the castle is burned to the ground.
Construction of Caerphilly castle recommences on a much grander scale.
The army of Edward I kills the Prince of Wales in the battle of Builth. This makes Caerphilly castle largely redundant.
Gilbert de Clare dies. His widow becomes the owner of the castle.
King Edward II gives the castle to Hugh Le Despenser, a favourite of his. Despenser remodels the great hall during his ownership. He treats the native Welsh badly and steals lands from other Barons.
A popular revolt against King Edward II and Despenser leads to a series of battles between the crown and the disgruntled Barons. During these battles, King Edward II makes Caerphilly castle his base for several weeks and stores the crown jewels there. Hugh Le Despenser is finally caught and sentenced to be hung on a gallows 50 feet high, his body afterwards decapitated and quartered and his head placed on London bridge. With the death of Despenser building work on the castle finally grinds to a halt.
The castle is besieged by the army of Queen Isabella (the wife of King Edward II), as part of her coup. The besieging army is commanded by William la Zouche de Mortimer. 120 defenders hold the castle against thousands of attackers for over four months – only surrendering when favourable terms are offered.
William la Zouche kidnaps the widow of Hugh le Despenser from the castle of Henley in Worcester. Shortly afterwards, they marry - giving la Zouche ownership of the castle he besieged just a year before.
The castle returns to the Despenser line.
Owain Glyndwr leads a popular uprising against the English and launches a massive assault against the castle. The castle surrenders against overwhelming force, though it is not clear if the castle is being seriously defended at this time (it is too expensive to maintain).
The King sends the Duke of York with 900 spearmen and archers to relieve the castles of Caerphilly and Cardiff. This attempt fails. Prince Owain Glyndwr proceeds to partly dismantle Caerphilly castle out of concern that if it was ever capured, he would be as good as finished in the area. He thenhas a major change of mind, and decides to secure Caerphilly caste as his headquarters.
On the death of King Richard III, the castle passes to Jasper Tudor, uncle of Henry VII.
Jasper Tudor dies. Ownership of the castle reverts to the Crown.
The castle is described by Leland: “sette among marisches wher be ruinous waulles of a wonderful thiknes and toure kept up for prisoners as to the chiefe hold of Senghenith”.
The castle is bestowed upon the Herberts, Lords of Pembroke.
The castle is leased to the Lewises of the Van, who are granted permission to use the stone from the castle to build a new home. The lease is granted for a period of 180 years. Thomas Lewis uses a large amount of masonry from the castle to build the Van mansion (the ruins of which are still visible today if you look onto the hills east of the castle).
The castle is used as a Royalist fort. During this time defensive earthworks are built to protect the castles northern approach (now known as ‘the Redoubt’).
1647 - 1648
The house of Commons decides that many walled towns and fortresses should be demolished in order to prevent further civil unrest in the country. In 1648 the parliamentary army visits the castle and breaches towers, drains the lake and destroys the castle mills. The north-east tower is destroyed by gunpowder, and the south-east tower leans at an angle 11 degrees off perpendicular.
The lakes surrounding the castle have totally dried up.
The 3rd Marques of Bute commissions an architectural survey and re-roofs the Great hall. On the castles 600th Anniversary the Marques entertains the Royal Architectural Survey with a banquet in the restored main hall.
1928 - 1939
The 4th Marques of Bute commissions restoration work on the failing monument and finances extensive restoration work.
At the invitation of the 5th Marques of Bute, the castle is entrusted to the state under the guardianship of the Ministry of Works.
Caerphilly town itself is altered so that the castle gets the prominence it deserves. This work includes destroying buildings bordering the Tywn and the castle. These buildings included shops, two chapels, hotels, workshops and cottages. The moat is also reflooded at this time.

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