Beaumaris Castle! Ooo Ahhh (OP #3)

Hello everyone! So every person in the class is going to lead a tour of a castle, cathedral, monastery, or abbey. I chose Beaumaris Castle in Wales. What is interesting is that its construction period lasted for a good amount of time (1295-1330) yet it still is considered incomplete!

King Edward I of England wanted to demonstrate his power, especially when the princes of Wales were slowly dying away. After working on Rhuddlan, Harlech, Conwy, and Caernarfon, his master builder, James of St. George, started building Beaumaris in the town that is under the same name, which is located on the Isle of Anglesey. The castle includes 12 towers, as well as a very unique design which makes this structure quite popular; the castle contains a “walls within walls” design as well as fame for its special concentric construction. The number of builders during the summer alone reached at least 1,800 men digging the moat, placing together the walls, etc., running at about 270 pounds (the currency)!

Eventually, the King became more dedicated to work in Scotland and the resources for Wales diminished over time; by 1298 building seemed to have stopped for a while until 1306 when constructed started again. A new constable was appointed, and realized there needed to be adjustments to ensure the safety of the castle; they built 6 more towers; a barbican against the South Gatehouse; and lengthened the height of the walls, so the curtain wall would be higher than only 8 feet above the water moat. The builders urgently tried to finish construction partially due to the fact that there were fears of Scots invading the North Wales coast sometime in 1306.

Eventually, they reached more bad news when James of St. George died in 1309. Master James was succeeded by Nicholas de Derneford, who joined him after working on an abbey in Bristol. We can give him thanks for the work of creating the oddly-shaped window heads on the courtyard face of the North Gatehouse, as well as the nave windows in Beaumaris church.

Once the castle was mainly built, pieces were simply left unfinished. Since then, different letters or written reviews about the castle have been found that prove the castle has just been left incomplete versus been finished and suffered through decay. Many rooms could hardly hold a couple people to lie in them; although payments were given to keep maintenance on the castle, no real changes to anything have been made. By 1609, the castle was considered ‘utterlie decayed.’

The castle contains numerous wall passages to allow communication through flanking towers, as well as access to the latrines beside them. The wall-walks are roughened-up as well, since their re-construction in the early 1900’s. Only 6 merlins out of the original 36 still have their complete loop. Yet the most conspicuous factor of the wall-walks are the latrines which are put in pairs! Two pairs are for each longer side, and one pair or each smaller side in the north and south. That means there are 16 on the wall-walk level, plus the other available 16 near the wall passages! These people wanted to be prepared!

One last interesting thing about the architecture of Beaumaris: due to its concentric design, if you visit the castle, the idea was to allow the viewer to see on one hand the outside of the walls and towers of the inner ward, and on the other: the inside of the lower walls and towers of the outer ward. (These would be visible if you were standing in the outer ward).

Although I still am researching the castle, it already sounds interesting and exciting! I can not wait to see the lovely monument in person!

-Emily C (Official Post #3)beaumaris 2


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