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History and Conservation

Oystermouth Castle dates back to the 12th century and has undergone extensive conservation work in recent years.

History

On a forty foot high limestone ridge overlooking the pretty village of Mumbles Oystermouth Castle is a spectacular location.  

The earliest building remains at Oystermouth Castle, the keep in the central block, date from the early 12th century.

Used as the residence of the Marcher Lords of Gower it was frequently under attack from the local Welsh. In the twelfth century the castle was mainly owned by the first Earl of Warwick and his family. In 1203 the lordship of Gower was given to the de Breos family who ruled until the 1320s when it passed into the hands of the de Mowbray's via Alina de Breos who married John de Mowbray. The de Mowbrays lost Gower to the Beauchamps for some time due to a legal decision and in 1461 it passed to the Herberts, the Somersets and then to the Dukes of Beaufort who held it until 1927 when it was transferred to Swansea Corporation. Currently it is the responsibility of the Swansea Council, with the Friends of Oystermouth Castle looking after the day to day running of the castle during the open season.

 

A Short History

1106 - Henry Beaumont, Earl of Warwick became the first Norman Lord of Gower, when he divided the area among his followers the manor of Oystermouth was given to the de Londres family.

1116 - Gruffydd ap Rhys ap Tewdr invaded Gower and burnt Oystermouth Castle.

1136 - Large Norman force defeated by Hwyel ap Maredudd on Garngoch common.

1189 - Lord Rhys of Deheubarth plundered Gower.

1192 - Lord Rhys besieged Swansea for ten weeks.

1203 - King John gave Gower to William de Breos.

1215 - Rhys Grug and Rhys Ieunanc, allies of Llywelyn ap Iorwerth, attacked Swansea and then captured Oystermouth.

1257 - Llywelyn ap Gruffydd plundered Gower.

1284 - Extensive repairs and extensions to the castle completed for the visit of Edward I on 10th and 11th of December.

1287 - Rhys ap Maredudd attacked and burnt Swansea and captured Oystermouth.

1302 - William de Langton tried to bring complaints against the King and was kidnapped by John Iweyn, steward of Oystermouth Castle and held prisoner until he withdrew his claims.

1302 + 1314 William de Breos signs a bond and two grants at Oystermouth.

1329 - Alina de Mowbray dated a conveyance at Oystermouth.

1334 + 1350 - Alina's son John was at Oystermouth and made grants to the abbeys of Neath and Margam.

1403 - 1405 - Gower controlled by Owain Glyndwr.

1451 - Sir Hugh Johnys was constable of Oystermouth Castle.

1461 - Gower passes to the Herberts.

1927 - The Duke of Beaufort transfers Oystermouth Castle to Swansea Corporation.

1989 - Friends of Oystermouth Castle founded.

 

Conservation

In autumn of 2010, work began to undertake essential works to conserve the castle structure. The £3.1 million partnership project was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Welsh Government Cadw and Visit Wales, European Regional Development Funding (ERDF) and the City and County of Swansea, with great support from the Friends of Oystermouth Castle, a locally formed volunteer group.

12th -14th century Oystermouth Castle has long been a forgotten, rotting historic monument which in its past has seen the likes of Kings, Lords and Ladies residing within its thick stone walls. Originally built as a stronghold and to keep people out, 2010 marked a new era in the history of the castle.

Works started to construct new access points and footways to help get a wide range of people into the castle and reconnect the structure to the Victorian seaside village of Mumbles.

Visitor facilities have been provided within Alina's Chapel, which was never previously opened to the public and a modern glass bridge inserted at the chapel level, to represent a 2011 layer of history being added to the mediaeval structure.

During July 2011 to September 2011, 13,000 visitors were attracted to the castle whilst works were still ongoing. From October 2011 to May 2012, further works took place to stitch back together the ruinous structures rising from the limestone bedrock within the castle walls. 

During the works, various discoveries of mediaeval murals, inscriptions, coins and staircases within staircases have provided puzzles for conservationists and architects to resolve. 

In June 2012, a whole mediaeval labyrinth of vaults, chambers and rooms within the walls of the castle were revealed for people to discover.

 

Current Conservation Projects

Details coming soon...

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