RECENTLY we looked at the history of Cardigan Castle and its life under the Lord Rhys and the loss of the castle back to the Normans in 1228.

We left off when Lord Rhys’ son Maelgwn ap Maelgwn ap Rhys reclaimed the castle by burning it to the ground in 1231. Here we look at what happened following this incident.

At the time of Maelgwn’s attack, Hugh de Burgh was custodian of the castle.

In July, 1234, the castle was granted to Llywelyn after he made peace with King Henry III, however, this would not last long as just a few months later in December, the king told the Marshal family that they could have the castle, on one condition, that they are able to capture it.

This was successful in 1240 after Llywelyn’s death. It was captured by Walter Marshal, the Earl of Pembroke’s brother in May of that year and he carried out refortification.

The following year, King Henry III re-took control of Cardigan after 4th Earl of Pembroke Gilbert Marshall was killed in a tournament. The castle was put into the custody of Hubert Huse along with Carmarthen and Pembrokeshire castles.

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On October 30 that year, just three months after Huse was given custody, it was passed to John of Monmouth who already had extensive estates across South Wales which were given to him by the king.

Rebuilding work started on the castle three years later when Robert Waleran arrived with plans to rebuild the castle and redesign the town and defences.

In 1245, Dafydd ap Llywelyn’s men tried and failed to recapture the castle for the Welsh and 300 marks was claimed from the raiders for damages done, which was put towards the fortification.

Custody of the castle was passed to Nicholas de Molis in August of that year most likely as a reward for his success against the French at Navarre a year earlier.

Miles de Hope was constable at the castle in 1247 and he was attacked and robbed crossing Cardigan Bridge by a man known as John the Welshman.

Waleran became constable of the castle he had a major hand in rebuilding on August 20, 1248, and two years later he was given £400 by the king to build a new keep and fortify the town.

It is believed the work on the castle was still going on in 1252.


The castle was given to Prince Edward (who would later become King Edward I) on February 14, 1254, and custody of the castle was given to Nicholas fitz Martin in 1258 along with Carmarthen.

Two years later, Gwilym ap Gwrwared become constable and handed the castle back.

In 1264, Roger Mortimer was given constable duties and a year later Prince Edmund was given the lordship and castle.

Nicholas fitz Martin returned to the castle in 1271 when he gained custody it and Carmarthen for the second time.

John de Beauchamp became constable of the two castles in 1277 and possession of the castle returned to the now King Edward I in 1279 after an exchange of land with his younger brother.

It was then that the castle became the centre of administration for the new county of Cardiganshire and Patrick of Chaworth became custodian.

In January of the following year, custody was passed to Bogo de Knovill who was named Justiciar of South Wales, but just a year later the title custodianship was given to Robert de Tibetot for his loyalty to the crown.

The king took up residence at Cardigan Castle on November 23, 1284, before his wife Queen Eleanor was given it in 1290.

While she had the castle, it was still managed by her husband, who retained control following her death.

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In 1293, William de Camville was given the custodianship and it is said that Maelgwn attacked the castle and recaptured it with his army and during this attack, he killed the chief recruiting officer for the French War.

The king returned to the castle between June 1-3, 1295, and he was accompanied by a huge military force.

De Tibetot died on May 29, 1298, while still Justiciar and constable of the castle, and the role of constable was passed to Walter de Blakeney on the same date. He held the position until 1301. During his custodianship, a new bridge was built.

Prince Edward, the king’s son, was given the castle in 1301, and the constableship was given to Walter de Malley.

In 1307, Robert Turberville became constable and was succeeded in 1313 by de Malley who returned for a second stint.

Geoffrey Clement took over on November 10, 1317, and following his death in 1319, de Malley took over for a third time, however, just a year later he was relieved of the role by Thomas de Chastiel.

It was ordered by King Edward II that a turret be completed at the castle as the monarch feared a revolt by the barons.

De Chastiel held the role until 1336 despite being fined for allowing a prisoner to escape the castle’s prison in 1321. He was succeeded by Gwilym ab Einon on the understanding that the castle was not to be given to anyone else.

But when King Edward II died in October the following year, he was ordered to hand the castle over to Geoffrey Beaufou by King Edward III.

In 1238, Beaufou was confirmed as Cardigan Castle’s constable ‘for life.’ However, just two years later, he was removed from office and custody of the castle was given to Hugh de Frene, again ‘for life.’

He retained the constable position in Cardigan despite losing his 10 estates for a month after kidnapping Alice de Lacy in February 1336, he would die that December and John de Hampslope was named deputy constable.

Next we will look at the castle during the mid-1300s.

With thanks to Glen Johnson.