Part 4: Edward I/Patrick McGoohan tour

We next traveled to Conwy for our final castle in the Edward I/Patrick McGoohan tour. We immediately went to the Conwy castle, another of Edward I’s Iron ring castles. It’s  quite an impressive structure. Some consider it the strongest of the castles; it isn’t the largest nor the most beautiful. Part of the strength lies in the fact that it is built in the rock.  It has eight towers with a view of the water.

Elisa Shoenberger (c) 2013
Elisa Shoenberger (c) 2013

The town is also surrounded by a fairly sturdy wall, seemingly thicker than the one in Caernarfon. In terms of historical events, I was excited to learn that the chapel was where Richard II surrendered to Henry Bolingbroke. However, Richard II was held and died in another castle nearby. When we visited, there was a tour of children who were learning about British history in the chapel. It was extremely charming.

There were some unusual art pieces in the castle itself. There was a wire piece of Richard II’s head hanging from the throne room. There was a sinister sculpture soaring up from the dungeon memorializing all those who suffered there.

After a satisfying time around the towers, we ventured into the town itself. One notable site is the Plas Mawr, one of the best examples of an Elizabethan town house. It was built between 1576 and 1585 and owned by a wealthy merchant, Robert Wynn. It was a fun place to visit since they really strive for historical accuracy there. There were rushes on the floors in some rooms and food out to show the different foods and drinks that people would have at the time. We also learned about how the house would brew its own liquor, common at the time. However, it would really cause quite a stink.

Many rooms have wondrous plasterwork; there are these almost cartoonish looking sirens in bright bold colors. Other plasterwork pieces are crests and coats of arms of Elizabeth I, other notables and the family. One had to pay homage to the Queen. Also, we learned that the upper floors would be rented out to other folks. I just learned that you can actually rent out the house for weddings and other events.

Then we wandered to the dock to see England’s tiniest house. It’s nestled between two buildings and is less than 6 feet high. According to legend, a 6 foot fisherman used to live there.

We had lunch in a turret of the great wall. It had a wonderful view of the sea. It was fun to learn that they had their own legends about ghosts; a photo by the front door allegedly showed an orb. But in the basement (where the bathrooms were), there were fake skeletons and other Halloween decorations.

And that concludes our Edward I/Patrick McGoohan tour for now. In terms of the Iron ring, we missed Harlech castle and possibly others (it’s hard to find a good full listing of all the Iron Ring castles). And that doesn’t even include all the other castles not part of the Iron Ring. Clearly we have to go back.

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