Raglan Castle became a focal point of the English Civil War in the 17th century, despite being situated in Wales. The castle played a big part in supporting King Charles I when the war broke out, but it all came crumbling down eventually.

Here we take a look at the beginning of the 10-week siege, which began as much of Wales turned from Royalist to Parliamentarian - with the exception of Raglan and Usk in Monmouthshire.

Parliamentarians laid siege to Raglan Castle led by Sir Trevor Williams of Llangybi  or Trerug Castle. On April 13, 1646, they killed 14 men and took 45 prisoners. A month later, on May 20, Williams, joined by Laugharne, entered the village of Raglan under the cover of darkness and killed five or six men, taking 12 more prisoners.

The National Wales: Raglan Castle. Photo: Siriol GriffithsRaglan Castle. Photo: Siriol Griffiths

The Parliamentarians burned and destroyed many of the buildings in the village.

Five days later, the siege on the castle began, with 5,000 men - headquarted two miles from the castle in Llandenny - taking up arms. On May 29, Raglan forces lost 16 men and had 20 taken prisoner while defending an attack on Usk.

The Marquis of Worcester turned down an order to surrender - despite being hit by a musket ball while in his withdrawing room.

A further refusal to surrender was given on June 28, despite being told Sir Thomas Fairfax was marching on Raglan with materials for a siege.

A third refusal came the very same day.

The National Wales:

Reinforcements were sent, with 2,000 troops joining the siege from Oxford, and another 400 from Bristol. Further reinforcements came from a successful siege in Goodrich and Worcester, but still the Parliamentarians were unable to take the castle. Sir Thomas then decided to attend himself to "put life into the siege", after recuperating in Bath.

On August 7 when he arrived, he sent a call to the Marquis to surrender where he stated that the castle “obstructs the kingdom’s universal peace.”

A response from the Marquis showed that he had spent more than £20,000 helping the King, and that he would be happy to give up the garrison to live in peace.

The siege had lasted 10 weeks and the Parliamentarians had dug trenches within 60 yards of the castle walls and had placed two batteries in ‘advantageous’ positions - one with four great mortars and the other with two, each capable of firing a 12 inch grenade shell, but these were never used.


What was used included 18 and 20lb cannonballs, which did considerable damage by breaching the eastern wall near the library tower. The cannonballs also demolished ornamental towers and turrets but had little effect on the keep and the Yellow Tower of Gwent.

Sir Thomas proposed that the Marquis submit to the "mercy of Parliament". The Castle was surrendered to him after terms were agreed on August 15 and the Marquis surrendered to Parliament.

All who had taken refuge in the castle were given safe passage to leave, and the garrison was ordered to march out with their arms and deliver them to the general in command, the soldiers would then be ‘disbanded and set at liberty.’

The National Wales: Raglan Castle: Photo: Siriol GriffithsRaglan Castle: Photo: Siriol Griffiths

The terms did not mention the Marquis, and many of the garrison wanted to remain and stand their ground.

The Marquis addressed them saying: “I understand that you expect this night to be stormed; wherefore I have called you before me; and do make it my suit unto you that rather than this storm should be raised for my sake only (which must be so seeing that you are all offered large articles for yourselves) that I may be the Jonah to be cast overboard rather than ye all should perish;

“For I have but a little old and cold blood running through my veines, which is not worth the effusion of so much precious and youthful blood as is running in yours; and therefore you shall do me a pleasure and yourselves a benefit if you grant me my request.”

The National Wales: The fifth earl of Worcester and the first marquis of WorcesterThe fifth earl of Worcester and the first marquis of Worcester

On August 19, the Marquis, his household and 700 garrison marched out of the castle with all the honours of war.

Sir Thomas took control of the castle and its stores and handed over the keeping to a commissioner of the army, Mr Herbert.

On August 25, orders were made to destroy the castle, stating: “That the castle of Raglan, the works about it, and the house and buildings thereof, be forthwith pulled down and demolished.”

The National Wales: The view from the top of Raglan Castle. Photo: Siriol GriffithsThe view from the top of Raglan Castle. Photo: Siriol Griffiths

You can read more about the siege and the history of Raglan Castle in Raglan Castle and the Civil War in Monmouthshire by Arthur Clark.