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Latitude: 51.7395 / 51°44'22"N
Longitude: -4.3057 / 4°18'20"W
OS Eastings: 240897
OS Northings: 207049
OS Grid: SN408070
Mapcode National: GBR GP.TDBV
Mapcode Global: VH3M2.BJ3V
Entry Name: Kidwelly Castle
Listing Date: 12 May 1963
Last Amended: 28 July 1998
Source ID: 11876
Building Class: Defence
Location: Situated on a bluff above W bank of Gwendraeth Fach, across river from modern town centre.
Traditional County: Carmarthenshire
Norman castle founded c1106 by Bishop Roger of Salisbury. Maurice de Londres was Lord of Kidwelly at time of the uprising of the Lady Gwenllian 1136. Control passed back to the Welsh under the Lord Rhys c1159, and Rhys is said to have built a castle at Kidwelly in 1190. In Norman hands by 1201, retaken by Rhys Grug 1215 and by Llywelyn the Great 1231. Norman control re-established by 1244 when the de Londres heiress Hawise (d1274) married Patrick de Chaworth (d1258). Pain de Chaworth (d1279) rebuilt inner ward of castle after his return from the Eighth Crusade, 1273. Passed in 1283 to an infant heiress, betrothed 1291 to Henry, son of Edward I's brother Edmund of Lancaster. Under Henry (d1345) and his son Henry, 1st Duke of Lancaster, (d1361) the castle was probably completed. Under royal control from 1399. Besieged 1403 by Henry Dwnn during the Glyndwr uprising. Granted to Sir Rhys ap Thomas after 1485 but reverted to crown 1531. In decay by early C17, owned by the Vaughans of Golden Grove from 1630 to 1927 when the Earl of Cawdor gave it to the state. Excavations 1930-1 by Sir C. Fox and C.A.R. Radford.
Originally a semi-circular ringwork of c1106, square stone inner ward with four round corner towers built in 1270s. Hall added to E side c1298, and chapel projecting from SE tower possibly of same date. In early C14 outer walls with 4 towers and a small N gatehouse replaced the palisade, and the towers of the inner ward were raised. Large main S gatehouse was begun in earlier C14 but not complete when damaged in Glyndwr uprising 1403, finished 1422. Domestic additions c1485-1525.
Rubble stone, mainly millstone grit boulders with sandstone, and some Sutton limestone for dressings. Twin-towered S gatehouse of massive scale. Semi-circular outer ward wall facing W with four towers, one collapsed, and square inner ward with four corner towers linked by straight stretches of curtain wall to SE corner of gatehouse and NE end of outer ward wall. SW tower has domed vault. Hall against E side of inner ward. Fine polygonal-ended chapel projecting E from inner ward SE tower, with cross-gabled sacristy tower to S. Kitchen of c1500 in SW corner. In outer ward are two large gabled ranges, the Tudor Hall, against W wall of inner ward, c1500, and another in NE corner N of NE tower of inner ward, probably of same date.
Listed as one of the finest castles in Wales. Scheduled Ancient Monument.
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