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Friday, June 15, 2012

Caernarfon and Plas-yn-Rhiw

Looks out of the window..... ah it was raining. It was raining hard! So it was reach for the waterproofs!

And where to? Well never been to Caernarfon/Carnarvon Castle so....

My Baedeker's says 'Carnarvon or Caernarvon (Caer-yn-ar-Fonm the fort opposite Mona) an ancient town with 10,170 inhab, is situated on the Menai Strait at the the mouth of the river Seiont, near the site of the Roman Segontium. It is an old fashioned place, with narrow and irregular streets, and a castle usually regarded as the finest in the kingdom. The central position of the town and its convenient railway connections make it a good starting point for excursions. The Twt Hill (190 ft), behind the Royal Hotel (lane to the left, just beyond the hotel), commands a general view of the town and castle.

North Road and Bangor Street lead in an almost straight line from the station (1/2m) to the Castle which occupies the whole W. end of the town and is washed on tow sides by the water of the Seiont and the Menai strait. It is one of the most imposing and extensive medieval fortresses in Europe, and is built entirely of hewn stone. Before entering the castle the visitor should walk around it, or, better still, cross the Seiont and view it from the opposite shore. Carnarvon Castle was begun by Edward I in 1283 and may be looked upon as the masterpiece of his architect, Henry de Elreton. It was not finished, however , till the reign of Edward II. The castle has recently undergone considerable restoration. Visitors are not admitted to the restored apartments. The principal gateway (adm, 4d0, on the N. side, is surmounted by a mutilated figure of Edward I.

The ground-plan of the castle is an irregular oblong or oval, originally divided into two courts by a wall. The walls, 8-14 ft in thickness, are strengthened by several polygonal towers, surmounted by graceful turrets. Iron standards bearing numbers have been placed in the interior to mark the shape of the different apartments formerly existing here, and lines are cut in the grass  with the same object. Passing through the principal gateway, we enter the upper court close to the line of demarcation between it and the lower court. The most generally interesting part is the Eagle Tower, at the W. end (to the right), in which Edward II the first Prince of Wales, is said to have been born in 1284. Most authorities consider that this has been conclusively disproved; but Sir Llewelyn Turner, Deputy Constable of the castle, maintains the accuracy of the popular tradition. The small chamber, which is pointed  out as that in which the prince was born, measuring 12ft by 8 ft is on the first floor of the tower on a level with the gallery round the walls, and overlooking the Menai Strait. The turrets of Eagle Tower, the name if which is derived from the eagles placed on one of them, command a fine view. The interior of the Queen's Tower has been restored, and now contains a Masonic Lodge and the armoury of the Royal Naval Volunteers - At the opposite end of the castle is the Queen's Gate, formerly approached by a drawbridge, but now closed. Tradition points out that this gate as the place where the infant Edward  was exhibited to the people as a "prince of Wales who speak no English". There is also a postern in the base of the Eagle's tower, from which a flight of steps descend to the river. The "shouldered arch" is sometimes called the Carnarvon arch from its general use in this castle.

The Town Walls of Carnarvon still exist, and visitors may walk round them in less than half-an-hour. On leaving the castle we should turn to the right and pass round its river front where the quay is covered with slate from the quarries of Llanberis. Beyond the Eagle tower begins an Esplanade, which skirts the outside of the wall on this side, and forms a pleasant walk along the menai strait. The towers are occupied by the County Gaol, the Royal Welsh Yacht club, the North Wales Training College, and the vestry of St Mary's church (at the N.W. angle)."

Today there is no sign of a drawbridge at the Queen's gate just a perspex screen. I didn't warm to Caernarfon both  as a town or castle, it might have been the weather but I thought Caerphilly more dramatic and interesting. The castle is in the care of CADW and unlike English Heritage there was no free  audio tour offered to bring the castle to life  - there wasn't an offer to buy one or a guide book from the chap at the entrance who looked at my English Heritage card and waved me through.

There was a nice museum to the Royal Welsh Fusiliers.

.We moved onto a small National Trust property called Plas Yn Rhiw. It's a small property built in the 17th century, it was in some disrepair but was restored by the Keating sisters in 1939. The house contains no great treasures but is well worth a visit if you are in the area.

Alas no tearoom so we bought a lump of welsh cheddar and some biscuits and ate this in the car.

The lady on duty on the ground floor was great fun. Alas no photos, I was a little surprised and asked why. "because we don't want people to" which at least has the virtue of being honest! :) To be fair on a busy day it would get in the way!

The garden is pretty and alive with birds. Alas the weather was not showing it in its best light.

    What's this?

an outside 2 seater toilet in the garden.

We decided on an early return and had a cuppa and a toasted tea cake in a tea room next to the pub!

As I type the gentle river of the other day is a raging torrent!

I hope i haven't overdone the text?


Jan said...

Re the two-seater toiler, maybe it was the original Bidet? Maybe a spring under one side.... Just a thought.

The street picture taken from the castle showing the multi-coloured houses, there were street cafe tables and chairs there when we went, again a boiling day, I suppose not in this weather. Anyhow, we were walking along, and a gull had found a whole slice of bread, was flying along at about 70mph, and couldn't see where it was going, was being chased by others, and its wing hit Alan in the face, lol! Will never forget that, another 6 inches across and it wouldn't have been funny, I think. :D

Eagleseagles said...

Been to N.Wales a lot - only to the Castle once in 1970 - and the stuff was still there for Charlie boy!
You could imagine standing on the parapets and repelling the hordes!

Funny how I went time and time again to Rochester Castle- where there is hardly anything apart from the 4 walls standing and only once to a complete(/) castle!

Ragged Robin said...

I enjoyed reading the extract from Baedeker Pete - although yet again you are tempting me to buy more books :D!

Shame about the rain but you took some lovely photos.

I was amused by the outside "toilet". When I was little we once stayed in a holiday cottage that had one of these that we had to use(though I think there were toilet seats covering the holes!!) - I kid you not!! I also have a feeling it was a cottage we stayed in in North Wales too!