Carew Castle & Tidal Mill, Tenby, Pembrokeshire

Carew Castle is Norman Castle, located in the Pembrokeshire National Park. Dating back to the 1100s, the Castle has seen its fair share of history.

After being severely damaged during the English Civil War, the Castle was left to ruin. However, a couple of ghosts still reside at Carew Castle.

Ghosts of Carew Castle

The White Lady

The most famous ghost at Carew Castle is the white lady. Believed to be the spirit of Princess Nest, “the Helen of Wales”, whose beauty was known through the ages.

The story goes that in 1100, Gerald of Windsor (an Anglo-Norman Baron) married Princess Nest, and the land in which the Castle sits was gifted to Gerald in his wife’s dowry.

Together, they built the first Castle at the location to bring up their children there. By 1109 Nest and Gerald had five children together, yet the incredible beauty of Nest drew admirers.

One night in 1109, Owain ap Cadwgan, son of another Welsh Prince, scaled the walls of Carew Castle and started a fire which spread quickly and caused panic. In the confusion, Gerald escaped, leaving Nest to be taken by Owain perhaps willingly.

It wasn’t until six years later that Gerald reclaimed his honour in battle, killing Owain and retrieving his wife, who had two more children by Owain.

After Gerald’s death shortly after, Nest was remarried to Stephen, castellan of Cardigan, by whom she bore several more children.

Ever since she died in 1136, she has appeared to be tied to the Castle in the form of the White Lady. Her shimmering spirit destined to drift the corridors, halls, and stairwells of this now abandoned Castle.

The Ape

In the 17th century, the Castle was home to Sir Roland Rhys. Roland’s son had eloped with the daughter of a Flemish merchant named Horowitz. In a fit of rage, the merchant confronted Roland at Carew Castle, with Roland subsequently setting his pet ape on him.

The ape inflicted a terrible mauling on Horowitz. Only just managing to escape with his life, Horowitz cursed Roland and wished that he too suffer the same fate at the hands of this beast.

That very night, servants rushed to the terrifying screams coming from the Tower where Roland slept. Upon entering his chamber, they saw their dead master lying in a pool of blood, with his throat ripped out and the ape dead beside him.

The ghost of the raged ape can sometimes be seen climbing the stairwell towards the battlements of the Tower, where it releases a terrifying howl that echoes across the surrounding fields.

Carew Castle History

After the Norman conquest of England, they extended their interests into Wales, where they built Pembroke Castle at the end of the 11th century.

view of Carew Castle
A view of Carew Castle across the millpond from a window in the Tidal Mill

Gerald de Windsor, a constable of Pembroke Castle, was given the lands ten miles up the tidal way from Pembroke, in a dowry from his marriage to Princess Nest, the daughter of the Welsh prince, Rhys ap Tewdwr.

Gerald built a fortification on the site, which most likely would have been constructed from earth and wooden stakes at first. Later being replaced by a stone castle.

During excavations, it was revealed that Gerald’s fortification wasn’t the first settlement here. With evidence of an Iron Age settlement, a five-ditched promontory fort, and an extensive collection of Roman pottery being unearthed. It may have also included a Dark Age settlement of some kind too.

Today, the Castle in the form you see was primarily down to Sir Nicholas de Carew. He was responsible for the east and west ranges before his death in 1311.

In the late 1400s, the Castle underwent a significant transformation, as it was extended and improved upon by the Castle’s most flamboyant former resident, Sir Rhys ap Thomas. He is believed to have been responsible for the death of Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth and was rewarded with lands and offices in South Wales, Carew Castle included. Trusted by Henry VII and Henry VIII, Sir Rhys was said to ‘rule the South of Wales like a King’.

The Castle was to undergo its final renovation work in the late 1500s by Sir John Perrot. Transforming Carew from medieval fortress to Elizabethan manor, Sir John built the great northern range, with huge windows overlooking the millpond.

However, tragically, he could never fully enjoy his new home, as he was falsely accused of treason and was held in the Tower of London, where he died in 1592.

Today, Carew Castle is still under the ownership of the Carew family, who lease it to Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, and they handle the administration and any restoration work.


Visiting Carew Castle

All areas of Carew Castle are open to the public every day from 10 am-3 pm, with the last entry being 2:30 pm.

Access to Carew Castle, Walled Garden and play area is included is in the entry fee. It’s £5.50 for adults (17+), £3.50 for children (4-16), £4.50 for concessions.

Once you’ve explored the castle ruins and enjoyed the beauty of the Walled Garden, the Nest Tearoom is open from 11 am-3 pm Fri-Sun, and the Castle Shop is open daily.

Address: Castle Ln, Carew, Tenby SA70 8SL

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