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Friday, November 13, 2015


Caerphilly Castle

Every time I visit my dad’s home in Caerphilly Wales, I spend at least a day ‘inspecting’ my castle. If you wonder why I’ve laid claim to this famous castle, built back in 1271 by the English chieftain Earl Gilbert de Clare, it’s because I grew up hearing stories from Dad who used to play inside it when he was a boy. From the first time I actually saw the castle back in the mid ‘70’s up until now, I feel I ‘own’ a piece of it and thus I have chosen to refer to it as my castle!

Earl Gilbert de Clare’s castle was besieged by Llewelyn, Prince of Wales, back in the late 1200s and Henry III stepped in to enforce a truce after which Earl Gilbert regained possession of the castle.

It was again attacked in 1316 during a revolt by another Welsh lord, Llewelyn Bren. During the 15th century it fell into decay and it wasn’t until 1929 that it was restored by the Marquises of Bute. It’s one of the best preserved castles in Wales and is now protected by the Department of Environment.

The castle has many stories to tell.  In one big room there is a tapestry hanging on the wall depicting three women who were noted inhabitants.  The first is Alice de Lusignon (1236-1290) the first wife of Gilbert de Clare. As he was away at war much of the time, the lonely queen found comfort in the arms of a local knight. When Gilbert found out he had the knight hanged and annulled his marriage to Alice. In despair she left off the castle walls. It is her ghost who is said to haunt the castle.

I published a story about this famous myths, the Green Lady, a tale that has intrigued me since I first began to visit Caerphilly castle. I’m always aware of her apparition each time I go, watch for her on the walls on a moonlit night, ‘feel’ her presence as I wander the narrow stone passageways and enter the big empty palace rooms.

 The second woman is Joan of Acre (1272-1307) daughter of Edward 1 who became Gilbert de Clares wife in 1290. After bearing him four children, Gilbert died so her father arranged a second marriage but against his wishes she married a commoner, a knight named Ralph de Monthermen who later the king grew to like and accepted the marriage.

Eleanor de Clare is the third woman pictured in the tapestry (1292-1337). She was the daughter of Gilbert and Joan. After Gilbert died the castle was bequeathed to his 3 sons but while they were away the castle was besieged by Llewelyn Bren and under Eleanor’s it was successful held out til help arrived. She also survived an unhappy marriage to a dangerous and disliked husband and an imprisonment in the Tower of London.

As you stroll around the long passages and up the winding stairways you’ll see different displays and art work telling the castle’s history. And out front, beside the moat there is an interesting display of siege equipment. 


Unknown said...

Great photos of this great castle in Caerphilly, home of my grandfather. De Clare was actually an English noble born in England, not a Welsh chieftain; the castle was built to protect the land against the Welsh. What is fabulous is that in the end Caerphilly has the castle and it is now absolutely Welsh. :-)

wynn bexton said...

Hello Bronwyn, thanks for the correction. When I was reading the notes I mis-read . Will correct that. I have cousins and distant relatives who live in or near Caerphilly so I go there often. Lovely town. And I just love going into the castle.

Unknown said...

Bore da Wynn, you are welcome. What an interesting life you lead and obviously creative will certainly seek your writings. Caerphilly is charming and my grandfather's playground as a child. I have quite a few cousins also in Caerphilly. By the way you have great taste in music. All the best :-)

wynn bexton said...

Where do you live? My dads family were mostly miners (including dad from age 14). My great grandad died in the mine at Senghenydd in 1903. I love Wales! The new novel I'm working on is about a Brythonic (Welsh) Celtic girl who is kidnapped by a renegade chieftain and ends up at the border of Macedonia being rescued by a young hunter who is Alexander (the Great). I am making the Celtic/Greek connection.

Unknown said...

I actually live in New Zealand but have a deep connection to Wales because of my grandfather Stanley Morgan Jones, his mother was Elizabeth Howells and when she died at 40 in Dowlais Merthyr Tydfil; great grandfather John Jones moved to Caerphilly and raised the 8 children eventually married again to Caroline. Elizabeths people worked in the mines of Merthyr Tydfil and in the Senghenydd mine. Later I know great Uncle Ernest Jones worked and lived in Senghenydd. He was there but was not in the mine on October 14 1913 when disaster struck. Apparently it affected him badly. Hard times in the mines in South Wales. My cousins in Caerphilly and Merthyr originated from the Jones and Howells line. I am sure our ancestors would have crossed paths (or mine shafts! I have visited Wales including these areas and have met quite a few cousins although next year I will be back in Caerphilly to meet a few more. What was your family name?

Your new novel sounds very exciting so much material in Welsh history. Keep in touch and let me know how you are progressing.

Unknown said...

I have just heard you speak on a video about your last book; wonderful. Will seek it out. :-)

Unknown said...

One more comment I checked out your Facebook and lo and behold find my cousins names as your friends. LOL I have been talking to Nina Oxford (nee Jones) and husband Glenn also Nicola Johns (nee Jones) and their grandfather and great grandfather was the (John) Ernest Jones I mentioned. His son was Ernest Jones with wife Phyllis Birch (Nina and Audrie's Mum). Are they also your cousins? What a little tiny world sometimes :-)

wynn bexton said...

Oh my gosh! Yes I spent an afternoon with Nicola and was just going to post something about the old manor house we visited. Every time I go to Caerphilly we have a cousins get-together. A few years ago when Janet Jones, the family geneologist was alive, we had a cousins reunion and there were a lot of us. My sister and her daughter came with me that time. Our family name was FILER and my grandparents lived on Windsor St. in Caerphilly (where my dad was born). Dad left Wales in the very early 30's after he lost his mining card as he refused to speak against the men in the mines (during the strikes). He then immigrated to Canada and later was asked to speak about the mines but he loved also to speak on more spiritual things so he was invited to McMaster Theology college and became a Baptist minister and sent to the prairies in Saskachewan to work in the mining communities. There are lots of relatives distant and close on Facebook, many of them in the States as great-grandpa and his brothers went there to work in the mines too. He went back to Wales and was killed but they stayed.So there is now a huge American connection of Filer relatives all related through great-grandparents.
Did you see my website or you can reach me by email at

Unknown said...

:-) It was Janet Jones that introduced me to the Caerphilly folk. I gave her the rest of our family and the Howells and she gave me Ernest Jones, her connection was to Roselia Wide his wife. I will write again via email, as I might use up all the comment space. Will be visiting Caerphilly next year :-)

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Suzan Baker said...

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Suzan Baker said...

Wow, those women really had to struggle a lot to survive in those times.
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