Our first driving foray. (Here is a little secret; it's actually not even a big deal at all - especially if you have a GPS system.) We had zero drama about driving in the UK - and now that we've done it, watch out! :) We're going to be going everywhere.
So, Raglan Castle - quite majestic and impressive, even in it's ruin. We got there a little bit longer than an hour before closing. This is from the entrance to where you get your tickets to enter. (We're a member of English Heritage and they partner up with the Wales corollary Cadw, so we got quite a good discount.)
There were not many people there - maybe half a dozen. It was relatively easy to take many shots people-free. We roamed around and pulled up the history of the place. It's got quite an interesting one - it was under siege during the English Civil War for 13 weeks but eventually fell and was divvied up by Parliament. Cromwell spoilt it, basically, and sold off the stone to be used as building material so it could never be used as a fortification again. But it's lovely anyway. My youngest son kept calling it Harrenhal :)
Here is a snippet from Wales' Cadw website:
Everything’s great about this place, from its great tower, which evokes memories of earlier fortresses like Caernarfon, to the great gatehouse, which ‘wows’ the visitor just as its owner intended. If, as they say, an Englishman’s home is his castle, then William Herbert’s Raglan is the Welshman’s equivalent.
Built for show rather than with battle in mind, it still held off Oliver Cromwell’s forces for thirteen weeks in one of the last sieges of the Civil War. The castle was eventually taken and was systematically destroyed by parliament. Enough remains to still impress.
Raglan was begun in the 1430s, rather late in the day for castle building. Unfashionably late by some 150 years! Despite this, mod cons such as massive mullioned windows brought the design bang up-to-date, bathing rooms in luxurious light. The oriel window, a bay to end all bay windows, is one of Raglan’s defining features.
It lit up the high table at the dais end of the hall. Raglan also boasted a long gallery, the very height of fashionable living in the Tudor period.
Intricately carved wooden panels were de rigueur and Raglan’s very own lost (and found!) Tudor panel is on show in our visitor centre. We’re also rather proud of our use of Bluetooth technology. Use your mobile phone to download audio stories for an insight into castle life.
The Buttery which is located behind the Great Hall has reopened to the public. Come and see where an episode of BBC's Merlin was filmed.
Wikipedia also has a fantastic article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raglan_Castle
Once you get through the main gate of Raglan Castle, it opens up into this gigantic courtyard - I really felt the loss of it being in ruins when I was here. It would have been a magnificent place. I know that England considers Cromwell a hero, but a teensy bit of forward thinking might have saved this place, instead of fretting over whether it could be used as a fortification again and greed over the resource of the stone (it was used for other building projects). Ugh, makes me angry at those dead guys!