Beaumaris Castle, in the town of Beaumaris on the Isle of Anglesey, is a great place to for a day out with the family. Find out more about the amazing castle before your visit when staying at our caravans for sale North Wales. The castle was built as part of Edward I’s campaign to conquer North Wales and was the last and the largest to be built of the castles, others being Harlech, Caernarfon and Conwy.
Beaumaris Castle is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as it one of the best examples of late 13th and early 14th-century military architecture found in Europe. However, the castle was never completed! It has a concentric symmetrical design “castle within a castle,” and was regarded as being the highpoint of military engineering for the time.
The concentric design of the castle was done to maximise the defences of the castle, making it impenetrable. If attackers could breach the outer wall of the castle, the space between that and the inner wall was a dangerous place to be, due to 164 arrow-slits on the inner wall. The only route of access to the castle was at the south gatehouse, which had 15 lines of defence, such as a drawbridge and several portcullises.
The building of Beaumaris Castle began in 1295 and had a workforce of 2,000 men. By the time work stopped on the castle around the year 1330, the total budget spent on construction was £15,000, a considerable sum for the time, as the income for the English treasury was less than £20,000. Many historians have described Beaumaris as a vanity project for Edward I.
As a vanity project and overly ambitious, it seems that Beaumaris Castle was always going to be unfinished. The main parts of the castle were built quickly, but the towers, gatehouses and outer defences were never completed. Today, you can see how it is unfinished, rather than ruined, as the towers are short. Even the round towers at the north gatehouse are 10m shorter than they were supposed to be. There are a few reasons for Beaumaris Castle being unfinished; Edward I died in 1307 and the architect James of St George in 1309, and the king started to focus on conquering the Scots rather than having control in Wales.
Despite its incomplete status, Beaumaris was never a big target for attacks. There was no siege on the castle until 1403 when Owain Glyndŵr revolted, and rebels captured the castle, but the English retook it in 1405. The castle soon fell into disrepair, and by 1539 was only protected by ten guns and forty bows, and many of the rooms had leaks.
An Inspiration for Art and Poetry
After years of abandonment and plants taking over, interest grew in Beaumaris and other North Wales castles built by Edward I from painters and travellers. The Romantic movement of the 1800s drew people to North Wales to draw and write about the ruins of the castles and building. Beaumaris was not as popular as Conwy or Caernarfon but was visited by Queen Victoria and painted by J.M.W. Turner in 1835.
Restoration and Repair
In the 20th century, the castle saw the beginnings of its transformation. In 1925, a large-scale restoration began, stripping out the vegetation that had overgrown, digging out the moat and repairing stonework on the walls. In 1950, Beaumaris Castle was designated as a Grade I listed building due to its “exceptional, usually national, interest.” 1986 saw Beaumaris, along with Conwy and other castles named as part of the Castles and Town Walls of King Edward in Gwynedd World Heritage Site. Today, the castle is managed by Cadw and is a huge tourist attraction for Anglesey and North Wales, seeing thousands visit every year!
Discover more about North Wales in our other posts in our Fun Fact series: