Welcome to a weekly feature on my blog – Ben’s Zone. Written by husband… Ben. A foodie, coffee obsessed, ex-smoking, ex-drinking and Ridgeback loving Dad. Who is also seriously into his fitness. You can find him on the blog (most) Sundays. Enjoy!
Oystermouth Castle Review
Oystermouth Castle Review
I do love a good castle. Never during my normal life, for some reason but when I’m on hols I can’t resist. There’s just something about tramping around castles in between beach sessions that completes my list of holiday ‘must do’ items, what can I say, I’m a complex person.
Despite having been to Oystermouth many times as a child I’d not been to the castle there in all that time as, for a long while, it was not renovated. The castle was built in the 1100s by William de Londres. Though William the Conqueror had battered the English at Hastings he lived in fear of the Gower Princes of Wales and had his noblemen build castles on the Gower to ward them off. Oystermouth castle is one of those trusty redoubts, however, the Gower Princes, turned up, battered William de Londres and burned his castle to the ground. They did then decide subsequently that Oystermouth was a good place for a castle and so they built another one on the spot, which is the basis of the castle that remains. At some point it even became their primary residence.
So, that’s the history, what’s the actual castle like? Pretty good, it was restored in around 2010 and so there’s a lot to see and poke around. With a castle I’m looking for 3 things really, interesting rooms to poke around, stuff on walls to read and high things to climb up, look off and then remember that I’m afraid of heights. Oystermouth has these in abundance. Though some parts of the castle remain pretty ruined there is a fair amount of superstructure left and so lots of little nooks to poke about in and a good amount of tower that can still be accessed easily. That takes care of items 2 and 3 on my list more than adequately. You can indeed go right to the top of one of the towers which has superb views out over Swansea bay and succeeded in scaring the pants off me with respect to the height.
The restoration work that has been done to the castle is excellent, it’s not been put back to ‘as it was’ because that would be weird but it has been done in such a way that the various interesting parts and features are easily accessible. When we first visited I had our youngest in a baby carrier and there was nowhere that was difficult to access in any way, which was nice. In terms of what’s actually there, it’s difficult to really be specific there as all castles follow a general pattern of a large building in various stages of ruination but this is one of the better examples (and I’ve been to tons) although it is also relatively small.
Costs are pretty good. A family ticket into the castle is £12 and we had a good hour poking around and reading about the history of the place and exploring. Some of us, perhaps including myself, also pretended to be knights shooting arrows out of the various arrow slits. The castle is nicely situated in the middle of town and there’s a lovely coffee shop next to it for once you’ve finished up doing your history-ing. The town itself is a really nice little seaside town and so if you’re not local it is definitely worth a day of your time exploring and visiting. Do make sure to go to Verdis on the sea front. It’s a little walk from the castle but it’s worth it to sample the many excellent gelatos they serve there (and good for walking off said gelato after).
With a review I normally try and mention anything negative for balance if nothing else but I really can’t with Oystermouth Castle. If you’re in the area and you fancy getting your history on it’s a no brainer. I’d probably not bother if it’s raining as rain and stone steps don’t make great bed fellows but other than that it’s well worth a visit. Do check the website as opening varies on a seasonal basis.