Caldicot Castle (Welsh: Castell Cil-y-coed) is an extensive stone medieval castle in the town of Caldicot, Monmouthshire, in southeast Wales, built near the site of Harold Godwinson's former Saxon castle by the Norman earls of Hereford from about 1100. Caldicot is mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086, not for its castle, but as an agricultural holding of Durand, Sheriff of Gloucester. Walter FitzRoger, Durand's nephew, inherited his lands as well as his father's office of Constable of England which remained with the lords of Caldicot. Walter's son Milo was granted the Earldom of Hereford to add to his titles. In the time of Henry I of England the castle was probably a simple motte-and-bailey
Walter's son Milo was granted the Earldom of Hereford to add to his titles. Milo's five sons died childless so his eldest daughter, Margaret, took to her marriage with Humphrey de Bohun III the Earldom of Hereford, the Constableship of England, and Caldicot. Humphrey III de Bohun was the probable builder, in about 1170, of the stone keep and curtain walls of the present-day castle. The de Bohuns held Caldicot for the next two centuries, aquiring many additional lands and titles as they became more powerful. In their prominent position the de Bohuns sometimes sought to curb the power of the king, or even to oppose him. Henry de Bohun (d.1220) sided with the rebel barons against King John and was among the twenty-five earls appointed to force him to keep the terms of Magna Carta. Humphrey VIII (d.1321) was considered eligible for a royal match, marrying Elizabeth, seventh daughter of Edward I. Their son Humphrey IX never married, and his lands and titles went to his nephew, Humphrey X. The de Bohun family now held three earldoms, Hereford, Essex and Northampton, and this enormous power was the inheritance, on Humphrey X's early death in 1373 of his two small daughters, Alianore aged seven and Mary aged three.
They became wards of the king, and Edward III granted their guardianship to his youngest son, Thomas of Woodstock. Thomas married Alianore and planned to keep all the de Bohun estates and titles by preparing Mary for life as a nun. However, in his absence, his brother John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, contrived a marriage between Mary and his own son Henry Bolingbroke, and the de Bohun inheritance was divided. Caldicot remained with Alianore and Thomas, now created Duke of Gloucester, who began a new building campaign at the castle. Thomas and his brothers were initially the power behind the throne of their young nephew Richard II, but Thomas's active opposition to the king's extravagance and reliance on favourites brought them into conflict. Richard eventually took his revenge and had his uncle murdered. In 1399 Henry Bolingbroke seized the throne from Richard, and although Mary did not live to see her husband crowned Henry IV, her son, born at Monmouth Castle, would be one of the country's great heroes, Henry V, victor of Agincourt.
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 site offers free parking for cars and up to 5 coaches. Dogs are welcome but must be kept on a lead and supervised in the castle. The gift shop stocks a range of high quality gifts, cards, books, and souvenirs. Wet weather facilities can be provided for lunch by arrangement. Archers Coffee Bar on site can provide ice creams and snacks or you can bring your own picnic. Tourist Information Outlet. Accessible Toilets are available in Country Park car park. Caldicot Castle's courtyard and lawns offer level access with paved and light gravelled areas. Towers have spiral staircases and many doorways are narrow. Seating is available in the grounds and towers and in the Country Park. Towers include: Victorian room settings in the Keep and information history information in the Woodstock Tower. Staff are happy to advise on access prior to or during a visit.
Location : Caldicot Castle, Church Road, Caldicot, Chepstow Monmouthshire NP26 4HU
Transport : Caldicot Halt (National Rail) then 20 minutes. Bus Routes : 74 and X7 stop 5 minutes away.
Opening Times : Tuesday to Sunday + bank holidays 11:00 -16:00; until 17:00 during school holidays.
Tickets : Free, except for Event Days
Tel. : 01291 420241