I stopped off at Chirk Castle on my way back to Bangor just to break up the drive and had a great time exploring the site. The castle is situated outside the village of Chirk, just inside Wales and at the edge of the Ceiriog Valley. Due to this close proximity, the castle offers great views of the countryside of both England and Wales.
Construction at Chrik Castle began around 1295, possibly in response to the Madog Rebellion of 1294. The land was owned by Roger of Mortimer (also known as Roger Mortimer de Chirk, in order to separate him from the many other Roger Mortimers of the time), a powerful Marcher Lord and veteran of the Welsh Wars. Mortimer was known as an angry and violent man, with a fierce hatred of the Welsh; he was the one who presented Edward I with the severed head of Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, the last sovereign King of Wales, at the end of the Welsh Conquest. In addition to that, in 1277 Gruffydd ap Madog of Powys Fadog died and Mortimer was appointed the guardian of two of the dead lord’s young sons.Four years later the two boys were found mysteriously drowned in the River Dee and Mortimer was granted ownership of their lands.
Mortimer was later imprisoned for rebelling against King Edward II and never lived to see Chirk Castle completed, with construction finally finishing in 1330 under Mortimer’s successor, Roger Mortimer of Wigmore. The castle greatly resembles the concentric design of Beaumaris Castle and its possible that the King’s Master of Works, James of St George, may have helped to design the castle. Unfortunately much of the castle has been redesigned since the 14th century and some defenses have been removed, though the oldest part of the castle, know as the Adam’s Tower, fantastically preserves the medieval spirit and houses a pretty spooky 14th century dungeon.
In 1593 the castle was brought by Sir Thomas Myddelton, a man who was once a grocer’s apprentice andeventually became one of the wealthiest men in England and helped found the East India Company, brought the castle for £5,000 (around £11 million in today’s money). He quickly converted the cold fortress into a comfortable Tudor mansion. However disaster struck in 1649 when, during the Second English Civil War, Parliamentarian forces stormed Chirk and then proceeded to burn and demolish much of the castle.
Eventually the Myddelton family rebuilt Chirk Castle and they continued to live there until 2004 when the property was sold to the National Trust, who continue to maintain and preserve the castle.
In addition to the actual castle, visitors also have the opportunity to explore the estate’s extensive gardens and grounds,which are abound with beautiful sculptures and woodlands. Unfortunately I was so engrossed in exploring, I failed to notice the storm clouds gathering above me and I ended up battling through a horrendous hailstorm to make it back to my car. Fortunately it was all worth it.
If you enjoyed all this history feel free to write in the comments, or leave like and thanks for reading.