Welsh Dragon
Cymraeg

Medieval to Victorian

The division of the de Bohun estates was revised after the death of Alianore and Mary's mother Joan, who had outlived both of her daughters by some twenty years. Alianore's eldest daughter and heir, Anne, lost Caldicot to Mary's son Henry V, and so Caldicot became part of the great Duchy of Lancaster.

Held by Henry's widow, Katherine of Valois, Caldicot was later granted into the stewardship of the Herbert family for much of the fifteenth century, and then leased in the sixteenth century to their successors of the Somersets with their power base at Raglan.

Caldicot Castle was evidently neglected, so that by the early years of the next century local people could not even remember how or when it had become a ruin. The castle became little more than a farmyard, but with the Manor of Caldicot it was leased in 1759 by the Pontypool industrialist Capel Hanbury and held by his family until 1830. The Duchy of Lanchester had been selling off parts of the manor for some years before the remainder was sold outright in 1857 to Charles Lewis of St Pierre, adding to his extensive nearby estates. He allowed the castle courtyard to be used for fetes, sports, harvest homes, and as a regular meeting place for the Chepstow Archery Society. In 1885 he sold it to Joseph Richard Cobb, who began the restoration of the castle as his family home.

The Duchy of Lanchester had been selling off parts of the manor for some years before the remainder was sold outright in 1857 to Charles Lewis of St Pierre, adding to his extensive nearby estates. He allowed the castle courtyard to be used for fetes, sports, harvest homes, and as a regular meeting place for the Chepstow Archery Society. In 1885 he sold it to Joseph Richard Cobb, who began the restoration of the castle as his family home.

Restoring the castle:

The castle is a good example of Victorian attitudes towards restoration. Cobb was a keen amateur student of medieval military architecture who had already worked at Pembroke and Manorbier castles and thought he was well qualified to restore the castle. He wrote that two principles guided his work. "One, never to remove an ancient stone except to put a similar sound one in its place or to bring to light one more ancient. Two, never to add anything without evidence that it had existed before." But he did not always follow his own advice; all the woodwork and the brickwork visible today was added by Cobb and his descendants. Cobb's approach was very practical and he criticised "the picturesque people who see so much that does not exist." He described his theories in a series of archaeological articles, but his work attracted a lot of criticism, which he tried to contest by claiming that his evidence came "from the stones themselves." Conservation work is still carried out at the castle, but now the emphasis is on preserving the buildings using medieval techniques, such as lime mortars, rather than on reconstruction such as Cobb undertook.

Events at the Castle

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