Beaumaris Castle – UK Rail Journeys Series 1 – Episode 11
Day 3 of The Welsh Dragon and we board our coaches after a leisurely breakfast, I’m heading to Beaumaris Castle because I’m swapping the train for a coach, a castle and a boat today.
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So how do you pronounce Beaumaris?
If you ask an English person (and probably many others) they’ll say ‘Bowmaris’ however if you listen to the locals they’ll say ‘Bewmaris’ – as in Beaulieu of Motor Museum fame.
So now you know!
By coach to Beaumaris:
We’ve got various optional tours today and I’ve chosen the tour to Beaumaris, to see the castle, and Puffin Island. Our coach takes us from the Premier Inn in Caernarfon across the Britannia Bridge across the Menai Strait, which often has strong tides, and on to the Isle of Anglesey.
The coach travels along some busy narrow roads and we stop for about 25 minutes because of road works. No one seems to be doing anything! No men at work! We finally get going when the road mending crew drives off with their equipment.
The castle is described both as ‘a fortress of near-perfect symmetry’ and an unfinished masterpiece. It was the last of Edward I’s Welsh royal strongholds – and, to many, the greatest one.
Edward and his architect James of St George used the countryside as a blank canvas using the ‘beau mareys’, or ‘beautiful marsh’, on the Menai Strait. They’ve already built great castles at Conwy, Caernarfon and Harlech and this is to be the most magnificent, the crowning glory.
It’s an immense fortress with near-perfect symmetry. There are four concentric rings of formidable defences, including a water-filled moat with its very own dock. The outer walls have 300 arrow loops.
By the 1320s a lack of money and trouble in Scotland stopped building work. The south gatehouse and the six great towers in the inner ward would never reach their intended height and the Llanfaes gate was abandoned after very little work. However the castle was used as a defensive fortress until after the Restoration of Charles II in 1660.
Whilst Edward’s dream never came true it is on the global stage as one of Edward’s masterpieces. Gloriously incomplete Beaumaris is perhaps the supreme achievement of the greatest military architect of the age.
By sea to Puffin Island:
Join me in a couple of weeks for our boat trip to Puffin Island.
To find out more about Beaumaris Castle please follow this link. You’ll find all the details you need to plan your visit.
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