Standing at the head of the Carew River, Carew is one of Pembrokeshire's most attractive and interesting castles, a fine example of the transformation from medieval stronghold into an Elizabethan mansion. It has a history spanning 2000 years and overlooks a 23 acre mill pond. Amongst it's attractions on site is the only restored Tidal Mill in Wales, a medieval bridge and an impressive 11th century Celtic Cross.
A reflection view taken across the Lake from the Tidal Mill
A bit of History
Archaeological research suggests that Carew was an important Celtic stronghold from the Iron Age right up to the Norman invasion. The site passed to the Anglo-Norman lord, Gerald de Windsor, when he married the Welsh princess, Nest. Gerald built a substantial wooden castle here in the early 12th century.
In 1109 Nest, "the most beautiful woman in Wales", was abducted with her children by Owain, son of the Prince of Powys, who was said to be "mad with lust". The scene of this infamous abduction may have been Carew Castle or Cilgerran Castle.
Gerald's wooden castle was replaced by a stone fortification, much of the work being carried out between 1270 and 1311, by Nicholas de Carew who built a simple, four-square castle with a tower at each corner, a gatehouse and great hall.
Sir Rhys ap Thomas, who fought with Henry Tudor at the Battle of Bosworth, added a number of embellishments and played host here in 1507 to the last great tournament to be held in Wales.
In 1558, Carew was granted to Sir John Perrot, reputedly the illegitimate son of Henry VIII. He built the great north gallery with its elegant mullioned windows, but died in the Tower of London in 1592 before he could complete the work of turning the castle into an Elizabethan mansion.
In the Civil War the south curtain wall was nearly demolished by Parliamentarian forces during a fierce assault in 1645.
Carew Castle by Garth Newton
In 1995 the castle, grassland, millpond and mill lane were designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest and within the site has more than half of all the species of bat found in Britain, including the Greater Horseshoe bat recorded there over the past few years. The millpond attracts, redshank, curlew, common sandpiper and shelduck, as well as having it's own resident swans. Of course there are a number of well know UK birds who make their home in the castle such as blue-tits, wrens, jackdaws and blackbirds. Since 1988 it has been home to a flock of Jacob Sheep.
Carew Tidal Mill
Within walking distance of the castle across the other side of the mill pond stands Carew Tidal Mill. Its precise reason for being here is not certain. Documentary evidence indicates there has been a mill on this site since 1542, although the present building dates from the early 19th century, and one of the two mill wheels carries a date of 1801. The mill was constantly in use from the late 18th century until 1937 when it ceased to be used. any more It has been restored and there are audio visual facilities on site and a special exhibition on the Story of Milling. The mill pond has been created by damming the Carew River which runs pass the Castle and opens up many photographic opportunities including reflections like the one in the top photo on this page.
Within the castle grounds there is an 11th century Celtic Carew Cross (free entry to cross).
There is also a picnic area and this together with the other items on site are all linked by a mile round walk.
It is managed by Pembrokeshire Coast National Park.
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