Tuesday, 24 April 2012

U is for Usk Castle, Monmouth, South East Wales

Within the Castle, and incorporating parts of its gatehouse, stands Castle House – both of which are Grade 1 listed buildings – when the stiffest regulatory protection is given to a structure.
Usk River Walk - photo c/o Mike Longridge
The Usk Valley Walk

The Romans established a Legionary fortress here before relocating it south to Caerleon (historically very interesting). 

It is thought that the Normans too ‘left out’ Usk before building a castle in the early 1100s – Monmouth and Abergavenny Castles having been constructed earlier.

Usk Castle is one of the Welsh Marcher castles and was under constant threat of capture by one side or the other ... with many battles being won or lost in the process, including the loss of various Marcher Lords at the time.

The Garrison Tower from the Inner Ward
Allegiances and patron’s influences affected the ups and downs of the holders of Usk Castle through the early part of the Middle Ages ... I leave the English-Welsh history buffs to clarify this ...  

However Owen Glendower makes an appearance again (see Croft Castle) as he instigated a fierce and long-running, but ultimately unsuccessful revolt against the English rule of Wales.

This English castle, built by the Normans, witnessed some turbulent times before passing into the hands of the Royal Duchy of Lancaster in the late 1400s;

Castle House, Usk - originally
the gatehouse, now a private
... once stability under the Duchy had been restored, the castle needed no further redevelopment or refortification, and was allowed to gradually decay. 

It passed through the English Civil War with only some slighting (destruction); then the castle was eventually redeveloped, and a change of use occurred when it was modified into a house in the 1680s.  Today it remains as a private residence.

It is possible to have a fairy tale wedding here – there’s the north tower, the Drum Tower Gazebo – holding very select few guests underneath!, but plenty outside;

Horse riding in the woods
.... the Gatehouse, the Tithe Barn (still decorated with old artefacts from its agricultural days) and the Oak Dining Room – panelled in oak rescued from a Jacobean house in Shrewsbury ...

The woods and fields to the east of the castle are all part of the old hunting chase from Medieval days. 

Field Archery
Interestingly there’s The Usk Castle Chase Natural Burial Meadow – exactly that – perfect for simple burials in beautiful natural surroundings ...

Different sections of the woods are open for the Hacking Club, motorcycle sports (Enduros – long distance cross-country time trials), Field Archery, Carriage Driving and simulated game shooting ... 

'Fairy' Events - perhaps?
c/o Usk Castle site

... the avenues and rides, within the woods, are lined with Red Oak or Lime ... making for a really special walk, while there is a circular footpath passing the Usk river on its way round.

The castle has many interesting points such as the dovecot tower, with many participatory events being held during the summer months.

That is U for Usk Castle, Monmouth, Wales - a hidden gem worth visiting despite the substantial ruins ...  part of the ABC series Aspects of British Castles.

Bob Scotney’s castle yesterday was Taunton Castle, Somerset

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories


Diane said...

I am amazed just how many castles there are in the UK, I would love to come over and 'do' a castle tour one day. Trouble is there is so much to see here first!! I would love to go out riding around the beautiful countryside there. Diane


I mist admit Hilary I had never heard of Usk before, having said that it looks a lovely place and the pictures superb.

Have a good day,

Old Kitty said...

Oh it's great that it's now a family home! How lovely and after such a turbulent history too!!

Is it pronounced "Oosk"? "Aask?"

Take care

Jo said...

It staggers me just how many castles there are in the UK as well. Being an ex pat Brit I had no idea. I guess we tend to take such things for granted.

Jo said...

I was rather disappointed neither of you chose Upnor which used to be at my back door many years ago.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Diane .. there are loads of castles - and actually I'm sure there are just as many in France.

But your history in France is just so wonderful, different, yet the same -but the French culture and traditions I'd love to be around!

Riding along these trails would be brilliant wouldn't it ..

@ Yvonne - many thanks - glad I've enlightened you as to another and different castle.

@ Old Kitty - Usk .. as in 'busk' or 'tusk' - perhaps the turbulence curtailed its name?! I don't think so.

Both are family homes I think, but the old battlements are there within the grounds and being made good use of.

@ Jo - lots hidden away .. and possibly you're right - we do take them for granted, or think of them all as the same or similar.

In fact if you'd mentioned Upnor - I'd have done that Castle .. it's the only Elizabethan one I've come across!! So sorry I missed it.

Many thanks - great to see you all .. cheers Hilary

Jenny Woolf said...

There are so many wonderful castles in that bit of the country - but of course they were highly necessary in the past.

I like ruins, I don't feel they are in any way a drawback to a landscape, and are worth visiting for themselves.

Julie Flanders said...

Amazing that this is now a family home, what a beautiful place. I'd love to go horseback riding there!

Bob Scotney said...

Hilary, you have one I would never have thought of. This is all totally new to me and one to add to my list.

Lisa said...

I actually really enjoyed your castle stories Hilary and amazed at their names.

Hilary, my blog has a new address and it is on my profile. Thank you Hilary.

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

Sounds like another beautiful place you can actually visit and tour. On horseback, even! (Can't quite imaging you touring the area on a Harley...)

Unknown said...

I think it would be so romantic to have a wedding here. And, someday I would like to try archery.

Lynn Proctor said...

another gorgeous castle--take me away!

writing and living by Richard P Hughes said...

Have never heard of this one, but sounds like it's an interesting one.

M. Reka said...

Hi Hilary
There are so many beautiful castles in that bit of the country. Thank you for sharing this amazing work with us!


Susan Scheid said...

Now, this territory looks familiar (we had a vacation in the Brecon Beacons year before last), although I know we didn't see the castle. The Usk Valley walk, in particular, looks familiar, and that beautiful bridge! I wonder if we passed through, somehow? I'm eager to see what castles you come up with for the last beastly letters of the alphabet!

Chuck said...

Hilary that is an impressive find for the U post. I can't wait to see what you have for Z!

Anonymous said...

Hi Hilary! What an amazing post for the letter U.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Jenni - there are aren't there - the Welsh border country - I agree with you re ruins .. and quite often they're in beautiful countryside as here.

@ Julie - carriage riding, horseback riding in the Usk valley must be wonderful .. and to have a family home there as you say must be wonderful.

@ Bob - I'm amazed that we're still selecting different castles - I'd have done Jo's Upnor if it had come to light - sounds a different type of castle again. But I'm glad I did the Usk .. as I've learnt!!

@ Ocean Girl - delighted to read you're enjoying the castles .. ok thanks for updating me re your site ..

@ Susan - the river trails are wonderful I gather .. I've been through, but not stopped or stayed for long: I must go back!

The motorbike time trials would appeal to many - but the Harley Davidson thought is an interesting one!

@ Clarissa - the setting sounds glorious for a wedding doesn't it .. and yes I'd like to try Archery too ..

@ Lynn - the Welsh border country is just stunning ..

@ Richard - thanks for coming by again .. glad you enjoyed it.

@ Marinela - there are castles all around Wales .. fascinating history - glad you're enjoying the posts ..

@ Susan - I'm glad you recognise this area - and had the pleasure of long walks when you were on holiday .. it is a beautiful part of Britain.

XYZ beastly letters of the alphabet - have a slight change of tone .. and I have yet to write them!

@ Chuck - glad you enjoyed the Usk .. it's gorgeous down there .. as I mentioned above to Susan .. XYZ beastly letters - a different take!

Cheers everyone .. lots of catching up to do .. as connection was down yesterday .. see you soon - Hilary

Juliet said...

Nice setting for this castle, and I like the fairy!

Lynn said...

Another castle I'd like to see! Lovely.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Juliet and Lynn .. many thanks - good to see you both .. cheers Hilary

Luanne G. Smith said...

I sometimes think I'd like to live in one of those castles, but can you imagine the upkeep! I think it's why so many open the places up to tours and weddings, to help pay the cost of operation. And thank goodness they do, so we can all enjoy these wonderful historic buildings.

Theresa Milstein said...

I love those first two pictures. What a bridge! That fairy girl looks just like my daughter at that age. It's uncanny!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Luanne - yes the upkeep must be prodigious .. we see it occasionally when they do tv programmes trying to help historic places reinvent themselves .. ie before they have to foreclose.

But those Castles that have been able to utilise their grounds and buildings effectively - good on them and we can enjoy as many of them as we can get to see.

@ Theresa - the Usk valley is extremely picturesque .. ah! - I'm glad I posted the little girl - she does look sweet doesn't she - nice memories!!

Cheers and thanks for leaving a comment .. Hilary

Robyn Campbell said...

What an awesome family home. That field archery looks like so much fun. I want to see a fairy. ;-)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Robyn .. this does look a very interesting Castle and estate .. I'd like to try the field archery and if a fairy came my way I'd be happy too!!

Cheers Hilary