LAST time, we looked at Cardigan Castle between the end of the Civil War and the start of the 1800s where we found out about the destruction that took place at the castle.

Here we look at life at Cardigan Castle in more modern times – starting with the 1800s.

At the turn of the 19th century, the grounds were in the possession of John Bowen, a barrister, who had begun to landscape the site.

Iin 1808 Samuel Marsh described: “The castle and the ground contained within its outer walls (called the Castle Green) now belong to John Bowen Esq., who is erecting a house on the scite of the keep, the dungeons now serving as his cellars…

"…All that now remains of it are two towers and a wall.”

It is believed that the architect of the house was David Evans due to the similarities between it and Berry Hill in Nevern.

In 1811, N. Carlisle described the site – which was still being landscaped – as “…the wall between the two towers being lowered and the Green sloped down so as to form a hanging Garden…”

The house and surrounding lands were to be sold at the Black Lion Inn in Cardigan on Wednesday, December 18, 1811, via auction if not sold privately beforehand.

The Cambrian had an auction notice in its November 30, 1811, edition which detailed the property involved in the auction.

It read: “That much-admired, modern-built dwelling house, called the castle, situated on an eminence on the banks of the River Tivy, in the borough town of Cardigan, commanding most delightful picturesque views of that river, the bridge, and of the surrounding country, with Coach-House, Stabling, Barn, Haggard, and replete in convenient requisite Outhouses, all in perfect repair, being lately built and fit for the immediate reception of a genteel family.

“The front of the premises (which is laid out with much taste in gravel walks, shrubs and fruit trees), is bound by the towers and ruins of the ancient castle of Cardigan.

“A spacious Kitchen-Garden, surrounded by a Wall, in the highest order, abounding also with fruit trees, and a complete, well stocked Green house. “

The piece describes Cardigan as a town and a forty-acre estate with four cottages. It states that John Bowen was occupying the property at the time.

The house and grounds didn’t go to auction as they were sold privately prior, just two days after the initial notice was published.

Various people described the ruins of the castle over the next couple of years including The Cambrian Traveller’s Guide in 1813, which stated: “The ruins of its Castle, appearing on a low cliff at the foot of the bridge, are very inconsiderable; little more than the fragments of 2 circular bastions, overgrown with ivy; yet it was once a large and important fortress.”

In November 1818, there was a mention in The Times of a Peter Taylor Walker being ‘constable of Cardigan Castle.’

The property had been sold to Arthur Jones, sheriff of Cardiganshire, by May 1827, who built a new portion of the Castle Green House.

In the August of that year, Rev. John Herring wrote about the new build and a banquet that took place. He said: “…There is a magnificent building being erected in the town of Cardigan at Castle Green at the expense of Arthur Jones, Esq., sheriff of Cardiganshire.

“The architect and master builder is Mr. Daniel Evans of Eglwyswrw and his son John Evans. On the occasion of laying the foundation stone of the mansion on May 31 of that year, a banquet was given by the high sheriff in the Angel Hotel to 42 men who were engaged on the building.”


A speech was given by the contractor saying how the building was coming along in a ‘very satisfactory manner, and with the greatest speed.’

The foundations from the initial castle build some 700 years prior were to be used and part of the foundation stone was cut in a niche and gold and silver pieces were put in it as a memorial for future generations.

Arthur Jones lived in the mansion on the grounds with his wife and daughter, and two daughters. He was described as a banker and had a number of properties in Cardigan.

In 1830, a new boundary wall was built between Castle Green and a neighbouring High Street property by the Wern Newydd estate and it is believed to have been on the site of the medieval curtain wall.

The property and estate was listed for sale in 1832, listed by the Carmarthen Journal as: “…Capital modern mansion.

Drawing room and dining room each 27’ by 18’ by 11’ high with mahogany doors, breakfast room, study, kitchen, bathroom and dressing room, six bedrooms and arched cellar being part of old castle. Hot house and pinery 87’ long recently erected at great expense. Four stall stable and coach house…”

Another advertisement from the same newspaper offers for sale: "All that Capital Mansion House, called the Castle Green, Now in the occupation of Arthur Jones, Esquire, beautifully situated on an eminence, commanding a fine view of the river Tivy, and of the adjacent county, standing on an acre and a half of ground, tastefully laid out as a pleasure ground; and Gardens, with a newly built Hothouse, 67 feet long, and a Pinery about 20 feet long, both glazed and heated in the most approved manner, and well filled with fruit.

"Together with a Four-Stall Stable, Saddle-Room, Coach-house, but quite hid from observation from any part of the grounds. – The Dwelling-house consists of a drawing and dining rooms about 27 feet long by 16 feet each, broad, and 11 feet high, with mahogany doors, a breakfast room, study, a capital Kitchen, Out-Offices, and a Bath, 6 bedrooms, besides servants’ sleeping-rooms, an excellent arched cellar, and every convenience attached to an elegant and comfortable residence.”

A David Davies, the then Sheriff of Cardiganshire, bought the property and moved in with his wife. He left his estates to his wife on his 1836 death.

She would go on to marry John Parry in 1839 and a year later, the Castle Green mansion and four cottages were put up for sale. It was bought by merchant and ship owner David Davies of Bridge House & Bank House, Cardigan.

The 1841 census showed a number of people living in the mansion including Mr Davies, his wife Anna Letitia , sons David Griffith and Thomas and servants David Evans, Mary Pugh, Elizabeth Harris, Jane Davies, Martha Rees, Elizabeth Williams, David Laise and Edward Mathias.

Living in the Groom’s Cottage in the stable yard were manservant David Thomas, his wife Hannah and their children Sarah, Thomas and Lewis.

That May, the ‘Welshman’ reported about a procession of the True Order of Ivorites at Cardigan, describing how it went under the walls of the Old Castle and entered the ‘beautiful walks of the Castle Green.’

In 1844, Castle Green was named as one of ‘the principal seats of attraction in the town.’ The following year David Davies became Mayor of Cardigan.

On December 4, 1851, following the death of Letitia Davies, a full inventory of the mansion at Castle Green was recorded. In the house was a library, dining parlour, drawing room, front hall, lower parlour, servants hall, kitchen, pantry, scullery, butler’s pantry, cloakroom, washroom, back yard, laundry aka servants kitchen, larder, malt room, meal room, bathroom, master bedroom, SE bedroom, dressing room, middle dressing room, main landing, lower bedroom, Master Tom’s room, Master Davies’ room, nursery room, back room, servant’s room, lumber room and China closet.

In 1859, David Davies owned much of Castle Street and The Castle Inn.

In August 1859, the Cambrian Archaeological Association visited the ruins and said: “The castle, which is so surrounded by buildings, and has suffered such dilapidations, that, without more careful examination, it was not easy to ascertain all its original details. It appears, however, to have been of a triangular form.

“Of the external works, two bastions and a connecting curtain are the principal remains, the latter later than the former, as appears from its junction with the towers.

"In the most northern of the bastions are two passages descending towards the river, one of which is said to have communicated with it by a sally-port, the other to lead to a chamber where a well supplied the inmates of the castle.

“In addition to these remains is what is called the keep, now converted into the mansion of the present owner – a circular tower of massive and strong masonry, still retaining its underground apartments and passages, now used as cellars, and presenting some peculiarities of vaulting.

"Whether this tower was connected with the outer defences of the castle, or occupied a more central position, was not stated, that portion of the castle not being easily made out.

“The masonry is decidedly superior, and older than that of the bastions, which exhibit none of the work usually found in Norman castles.

"Gilbert Marshall is said to have rebuilt this stronghold in the middle of the thirteenth century, or rather to have increased and strengthened the works; for it is doubtful whether any part of the original structure still remains, unless the keep be a portion. Few castles appear to have undergone more assaults.”

Next time, we will look at the castle and mansion in the latter half of the 19th century.

With thanks to Glen Johnson for the information.