Tuesday, 17 April 2012

O is for Oystermouth Castle on the Gower peninsula, Wales

A quick dash back across country to west Wales again and Swansea’s Oystermouth Castle –
Oystermouth  Castle

I feel a little like Harold and his army, when he marched his army up to Yorkshire from Pevensey, Sussex (where I live) fought the Battle of Stamford Bridge, then marched them down again to take on William the Conqueror and the Normans ... but that’s to digress and Pevensey Castle does not feature!

The Lords of Gower owned much of the Peninsula including this the Gower’s finest castle, standing on a small hill with magnificent views over Swansea Bay and the area known as the Mumbles ... wonderful for mussels fishing.

Mumbles Bay - great for mussels

As the main larger port of Swansea is nearby ultimately Swansea Castle came to be their chief residence ... but Oystermouth for a while stood proud, Edward I in 1284 paid a visit.

Oystermouth Castle showing the gatehouse
and chapel window

The early stone castle building was rebuilt by the de Braoses, as lords of the Gower, in the 13th century, and has stood the test of time – certainly falling into decay, but gently as an elegant architectural lady.

The rebuilding included a high curtain wall, internal rooms added, a chapel, basements, a three storey residence with fireplaces and garderobes on each floor. The castle had every residential feature necessary for living in some comfort and was also cleverly refortified.
A garderobe at Peveril Castle
in Derbyshire

However despite its decay it still has the power to stir the imagination.  A Castle such as Oystermouth is a great physical example of an ancient reminder of our rich heritage, which tells a story for Britain.

Recently during a refurbishment and modernisation to accommodate visitors in the 21st century – remnants of an ornate medieval painting dating back to the 14th century have recently been uncovered in the Chapel.

Shakespeare at the Castle
The conservation works continue but for now the scheme includes new visitor facilities, an educational space, improvements to access and a 30 foot high glass viewing platform and bridge that leads into Alina’s Chapel.

"Shakespeare at the Oyster"

That is O for Oystermouth Castle a fine example for students to visit to understand the complexities of fortress living through the centuries ...  part of the ABC series Aspects of British Castles.

Bob Scotney’s castle yesterday was also Nottingham Castle

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories



Great O post Hilary, It's surprising how many castles there are in the UK. I well remember Arundel Castle went there with my mother also with my late husband.
A wonderful post to read and digest.


Old Kitty said...

I love that there's a place called Mumbles! Yay!

Oh another wonderful castle and now I have The Grand Old Duke of York with his 10,000 men tune in my head now! LOL! Take care

Talli Roland said...

Oystermouth - I love it! I've been to the Gower but I've never seen this castle. I missed out!

Unknown said...

First, I want to thank you for stopping by my blog...I am LOVING your posts! I have been to Europe and it just amazes me how old and beautiful some of the buildings are! I so loved this post, the pictures and the history! I am a new follower so I do not miss any more!

Luanne G. Smith said...

I believe there are as many castles in Wales as there are sheep. :) Another beauty.

cleemckenzie said...

Another fabulous castle. I'd love to see Henry the IV done there!

D.G. Hudson said...

I have a fondness for castles and old heritage buildings in general. Thanks for stopping by my blog, Hilary - I keep finding the comments in my spam 'diverter' - which can be annoying. I enjoy your comments, so that's not a problem.

Your posts make me want to see London for a bit when we next visit France. Wish I were as close as you! I'll catch up on your other posts later today, after some appts. I love your series on castles.

Mimi said...

oh the Mumbles! I love that name. What a riot.
Are there any photos of the medieval painting found in the chapel?

Mimi Torchia Boothby Watercolors

scribbleandedit.blogspot.co.uk said...

Oh, O I've got my A-Z days wrong...
Thought today was P for plotting.

Fabulous post as always Hilary. I love all the details.

Amanda Trought said...

Well worth the visit I am enjoying your tour around england! Amanda

Inger said...

You British folks have a rich heritage, indeed. These old castles are amazing, so strong and stern looking. And you delve into their history in every post. Thank you for all this effort.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Yvonne - this one was mentioned to me by one of the Nursing Centre's residents - so I used it .. they'll be pleased to read the comments etc and post itself (hope!!). I didn't use Arundel .. but it's a great Castle to visit ..

@ Old Kitty - yes - its a good name isn't it .. I'm sorry about the Grand Old Duke of York .. it's what came into my head when I was writing the post - across country and back again!

@ Talli - it's on the westerly side of the Gower and has only recently been revamped .. a place to go back to?!

@ Melody-Mae - pleasure and am glad you're happy being here reading ..

There is a lot of history here and in Europe - so we have much available to look at or investigate - perhaps you'll be back for another visit?!

@ Luanne - well you know the Pembrokeshire coast quite well - as your books are based here .. I suspect your maths is slightly out in it's number of castles v sheep - those little fluffy things would win out all the time!! Thanks for commenting ..

@ CLee - in dry warm weather .. all Shakespeare would be wonderful here .. and they could use real horses etc .. but it's a lovely setting isn't it ..

@ DG - sorry about the blogger problem .. it happens with a few of us (irritatingly !) ..

Well if you can get into the UK - there's an awful lot to see and I hope you do .. you love history - the posts on Paris you've been showing us - have been great - I'm loving the tour ..

@ Mimi - the name is wonderful isn't it - they're not sure of its etymology .. but it's fun all the same.

The medieval painting is in bits or in poor condition - but they feel they can restore some of it - so it's a work in progress for now .. the castle is still in the process of further restoration - and I'm sure one day will be on show there or in photo format ..

@ Amanda - thanks for stopping off to comment ... glad you're enjoying it ..

@ Inger - yes we're very lucky - and we're preserving our heritage .. that's so important ... and adding to our knowledge base - the researchers and professors do a wonderful job .. We are lucky.

Thanks so much everyone - lovely to see you all .. cheers Hilary

Lynn said...

That's so neat that they have Shakespeare plays there outdoors! Love this O post. :)

Unknown said...

Oh, I'm so glad they're fixing the castle and using it for good.

T. Powell Coltrin said...

The castles you've featured are mostly different from each other. This makes me wonder if there is a certain thought process or criteria that goes into building a castle.

I still want to live in one. First I'll build a mote in front of my house and go on from there. :)


beccabooklover said...

Great little castle with some fantastic views. I love the Mumbles and visited Oystermouth Castle when I went to look at Swansea University a few years ago. Now I'm lucky to live and study in Swansea and the Mumbles is just a little walk away down the beach. Such a pretty place! The castle is just so lovely on the hill overlooking the sea.

Jannie Funster said...

You guys have the BEST names for your castles.

I'd a loved to have been there for a day back when it got into full swing. Just to time-travel for ONE day would be fun. But invisible so,in case they wanted to behead me or whatever.


Jannie Funster said...

invisibly, meant to write.

Karen Lange said...

Thank you for this wonderful lesson all centered around the letter O. I enjoyed it thoroughly! I always feel a bit smarter when I leave your blog. :)

dolorah said...

I'll have to check out the British Castles series. I love learning about castles and their history.


dolorah said...

I'll have to check out the British Castles series. I love learning about castles and their history.


Martha said...

I just love castles - very cool!

Anonymous said...

I would imagine many castles, or parts of the, have been rebuilt. Wars, age, shoddy craftsmanship, or using materials for other projects would be the cause.

Liara Covert said...

Love and appreciation are timeless. When you express these sentiments toward anything, you are in essence loving and appreciating life and all that is a reflection of the essence of being.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Lynn - yes we're very lucky .. there's a lot of outdoor theatre put on at Castles, Historic houses etc - it does make for a magnificent back drop .. doesn't it.

@ Clarissa - what I've learned by doing these posts - is how much restoration has occurred and is still occurring .. it's been eye-opening - and like you .. it's good news.

@ Teresa - I've tried to pick out interesting aspects and castles over time - so that you won't all get bored with walls and defences .. it seems to be working!

In the XYZ posts I'll do some notes on castles in general .. and summarise these.

As each new civilisation learnt more, so buildings developed - the same with castles - what happened on the continent was continued on here and no doubt adapted to the physical surrounds of the site ..

Ok - but the moat you want to build in front of it is a moat .. the motte and bailey - is a mound with a wooden 'fortress' atop it .. so moat with a bridge please - as I'd like to visit.

@ Becca - fantastic you've been and can back up my thoughts .. it looks like they're doing a lot more restoration work too.

The photos of Mumbles village and area weren't great .. so I'm delighted to read your words - I thought it must be picturesque ..

You are lucky to live nearby - thanks so much for the added value comment -

@ Jannie - Oystermouth is a fun name isn't .. especially when they gather mussels in Mumbles Bay!

Fairy-like you could float around visiting many places - and I agree that would be fun .. I've often thought that I'd like to do that .. be invisible and see what did happen. Humming Tudor melodies as you go ...

@ Karen - many thanks for your visit - I owe you a visit or two .. glad you enjoyed the post though ..

@ Donna - that'd be great if you care to do a run through sometime .. they'll be here for ever (as Clarissa tells us!)

@ Martha - great - thanks ..

@ Steve - depending on the ravages incurred at the time in history .. still it's amazing what's still and what the archaeologists are still finding out for us ..

@ Liara - yes I love history more and more, as I comprehend all the stories that make up our life ..

While remembering we are a microscopic cog in the wheel of life ... and the earth and seas are as important ..

Exactly as you say .. Love and appreciation are timeless.

Thank you so much everyone - it is just wonderful to see you all and get your comments - very gratifying .. Cheers - enjoy your week .. it's somewhat cold and wet here!

Byeeee Hilary

Anonymous said...

Hi Hilary. Another great post. Such an interesting name for a castle. Shakespeare at the Oyster, how marvelous.
: )


Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Susanne .. the name is great isn't it - they're not sure of the etymology .. some Celtic in there somewhere - but Oystermouth sounds lovely.

They do quite a lot of outdoor theatre, opera, etc at historic venues or on village greens .. it's wonderful to see ..

Thanks for the visit - Hilary

Jenni Steel said...

Hi Hilary,

Another interesting piece of history. I'm so glad I joined up to this blog challenge I am enjoying, seeing all these beautiful castles, hearing all the interesting stories and poetry.

I'm so pleased I met you along the way, to..


Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Jenni .. many thanks - it's being fun doing the castles I selected - and then choosing the parts I'd write about ..

Many thanks - and have a lovely weekend .. cheers Hilary

Nick Wilford said...

It's great that they're redeveloping it to preserve the history. I'd love to go. Feel sorry for anyone who happened to be underneath those garderobes at the wrong time though!

And I know of the Mumbles, what a great name. :)

Robyn Campbell said...

There are so many castles. I cannot wait to do my castle tour. Shakespeare at the Castle looks wonderful. Would love to see it. :-) Love Mumbles. It's fun to say.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Nick .. isn't it wonderful that they're preserving its history - and like you I'd love to visit.

The Garderobe is another subject! Yugh .. I think ..

But I'd happily be mumbling along at the Mumbles ..

@ Robyn - lots of castles, lots of Shakespeare at the castles and we'd love to see you for a tour .. and as Nick says .. Mumbles is a great word isn't it ..

I think I called my mother Mumbles quite often - as we're Cornish .. I'm not sure why!

Cheers to you both - Hilary