First stop of this rather bleak day was Pembroke, a historic settlement and former county town of Pembrokeshire. Pembroke Castle sits on a strategy rocky promontory by the River Cleddau estuary, an excellent position for a castle, that was difficult to attack. The first castle on site was built for Roger Montgomery in 1093 during the Norman invasion of Wales. A century later the castle was given to William Marshal by Richard I. Marshall became one of the most powerful men in 12th century Britain and rebuilt Pembroke in stone, creating most of the structure that remains today.
Peace reigned in the 15th and 16th century but in the English Civil War Pembroke fought first for the side of the parliamentarians, but later changing sides in 1646 and raising a Royalist uprising. After a seven week siege, Oliver Cromwell finally took the castle, encouraging town’s people to dismantle and destroy it. Its leaders were found guilty of Treason and Poyer, Laugharne and Rice-Powell were all sentenced to death. In a degree of leniency it was then agreed that only one man should die, and so lots were taken and the loser mayor John Poyer was shot at Covent Garden in 1649. After the restoration of the monarchy, his impoverished widow petitioned King Charles II and was awarded a pension of £300 per year.
The castle was abandoned and left to decay until 1880 where a three year restoration project was undertaken. An extensive restoration of the walls, gatehouses and towers were started by World War 1 veteran Major-General Sir Ivor Phillips in 1928 and he left a trust so that the conservation could continue after his death.
It’s an interesting castle and a surprising amount of it is intact. Audio visuals and reconstructions give a good insight into what it would have been like to live in the castle through the years.