RECENTLY, we looked at how a Gwent castle played a significant part in the Civil War, as it provided one of the most solid bases for the Royalists.

Here we look at how that castle – Raglan – hosted King Charles I during the war, and what he got up to while he was in Gwent.

Henry, Earl of Worcester, owned Raglan Castle and was a loyal Royalist, so it is no surprise that during times of struggle, King Charles I turned to this staunch supporter – who also lived like royalty, with his own court, officers and pages in the vast castle.

The King’s first recorded appearance at the castle during the Civil War, according to Arthur Clark’s Raglan Castle and the Civil War in Monmouthshire, was in the afternoon of July 3, 1645. The King arrived to partake in the hospitality of the Marquis of Worcester - a title bestowed upon him by Charles himself for his loyalty shortly before the Civil War began.

A chaplain of the marquis, Bailey, recounted that “when the King entered the castle, the Marquis having kissed the King’s hand, on rising, he saluted his majesty with the compliment ‘Domire non sum dignus.’ (Roughly translated, this means 'My Lord, I am not worthy').

“The King replied: ‘My lord, I may very well answer you again; I have not found so great faith in Israel; for no man would trust me with so much money as you have done.’”

It is said that the Marquis responded: “I hope your majesty will prove a defender of the faith.”

The King was presented with keys to the castle and it is reported that he returned them to the Marquis, who said: “I beseech your majesty to keep them if you please, for they are in a good hand; but I am afraid ere it be long, I shall be forced to deliver them into the hands who will spoil the compliment.”

It is said that the King’s visit to Raglan was a gloomy one as the recent losses in the Civil War were playing on his mind. On July 5, he issued a warrant from the castle to deal with the remnants of troops raised by Lord Herbert in Monmouthshire.

South Wales Argus:

During his visit to Raglan, the king was treated with respect by the Marquis. On one occasion, the Marquis’ brother Sir Thomas Somerset sent a basket of ripe fruit from his own gardens and orchards in Monmouth for the king.

The Marquis presented these to the king himself, with the account being described as: “In comes the marquis to the king, at the latter end of the supper, led by the arm, having such a goodly presence with him, that his being led became him, rather like some ceremony of state than show of impotence; and his slow pace occasioned by his infirmity, expressed a Spanish gravity rather than feebleness.


“Thus with a silver dish in each hand, filled with rarities, and a little basket upon his arm, as a supply in case His Majesty should be over-bountiful of his favours to the ladies who were standing by.”

The King, after being told that the present “came from Troy,” responded with: “Truly my lord, I have heard that corn now grows where Troy town stood, but I never thought there had grown any apricots there before.”

While at Raglan, he was also greeted by Thomas Swift, a vicar of Goodrich, whose house had been pillaged 30 times by Parliamentary troops. The vicar offered the King his coat, which was questioned by Lord Charles Somerset on its worth.

The vicar then took off his waistcoat and offered it to the King – which had 300 broad pieces of gold sewn into it.

After a July 13 meeting which discussed the safety of the King, he remained in Wales and after 13 days at Raglan Castle, he moved on towards Cardiff on July 16 to meet with the commissioners of South Wales.

On July 20, he returned to Raglan in time for dinner and attended two of three councils of war. It was decided that Charles would head for Bristol the following day, where 50 men from Ragland and 60 from Chepstow would ‘guard the passe on the Wye at Tintern.’

On July 22, Charles decided to return to Raglan rather than heading across to Bristol as planned, but two days later he left Raglan again to attempt the journey, although he ended up in Newport instead due to nearby Bridgwater falling to Parliamentarians.

South Wales Argus:

After travelling through a number of places, he left Hereford on September 7 to return to Raglan, where he spent a week and organised relief for Bristol. During this period, he visited Abergavenny on September 11, where he was pleaded to excuse five men who had been ‘chief hinderers of the counties of Monmouth and Glamorgan to relieve Hereford.’ Sir Trevor Williams was released on bail after protesting his innocence while the remaining four were imprisoned.

After recounting the event to the marquis on his return to Raglan, he was met with unwavering support as the marquis stated: “Well sir, you may chance to get to the kingdom of heaven by such doings, but if you get the kingdom of England by such ways I will be your bondsman.”

On September 12, the King left Raglan after hearing the news that Bristol had fallen. His plan was to head for Hereford, but he changed his mind and returned to Raglan for a further two days. He left for Hereford on September 14.

He is not recorded to have returned to Raglan and on August 25, 1646, the castle was ordered to be destroyed after the marquis accepted defeat and surrendered.

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