Conwy Castle- Amazing Place

Ermintruder

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#1
The forum appears almost-devoid of any references to the astounding structure that is Conway Castle in North Wales. Unusually, I had the good fortune to spend quite a while in it, last month.

The castle is just amazing. Probably one of the best-preserved medival castle in the British Isles. I was all over it for hours, and am still trying to make some sense of it in my mind. Hugely atmospheric, despite the bright skies and many concurrent noisy school trips. Nothing could detract from the lurking splendour of the building, built as it is, intimately and evidently, into the bedrock.

I was completely-unprepared for the massive scale of the castle, or the way in which Conway town is also walled, in ways more intimate and impressive even than York.

The huge iron-rod artwork of the King's Head, suspended by hawser-wires within one of the vast out-of-bounds hall containments, was inspired and disturbing. I hope that sometimes they fill it with glowing embers (but they won't)


Has anyone else on the forum explored Conway and the castle? I would expect some of you have, surely. Were you as impressed as I? Presumably you, too, felt the strong historical vibes possessed by the place.

I'm still on a high from having had a rare few days away in North Wales. Such an incredible place, filled with Fortean promise at every corner. Many great experiences, finished all too soon. Maybe one day I'll get back there- I certainly hope so
 
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rynner2

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#2
Searching on Conwy (the Welsh spelling) I found two posts about the castle, both by Scarg:

http://forum.forteantimes.com/index.php?threads/the-strange-room.4464/#post-88358
http://forum.forteantimes.com/index.php?threads/the-strange-room.4464/#post-88580

To save people having to Click the links (you know how I hate bare naked links!) I present Scarg's posts, merged into one, below:

"Pixie-led in a mediaeval castle.....

This happened at Conwy Castle in Wales when I was 11.
I was on holiday with my family and we kids were excitedly exploring, as kids do.

I became separated from my brothers and walked all around the top level (battlements) before returning to the tower I'd come up and descending to the lowest level, the basement or dungeon.

When I'd seen enough I tried to walk out at ground level, but couldn't find the door. I went up and down the tower a few times and along the battlement, from where I could see the door I'd been looking for. But no matter how I tried I could not reach ground level from that tower. I walked all round the battlements and up and down every other tower and in and out at ground level, until I reached the tower with the dungeon: no door.

Yet I could see the door from outside and people must have been using it, and I had entered through it in the first place. Mad.

How I Left The Tower -

I decided that I wasn't going to get out by the way I'd come in so I headed for the top of the tower and went out out the battlements where I eventually met up with my family again. I felt great relief at finding them, yet they didn't seem to have missed me, even though I reckon I'd been out of sight for an hour!

All the time I was 'lost' there were people coming and going as normal. In fact, nothing was at all unusual except that dratted doorway going missing.

(May I add that I even tried methodically covering every inch of the up-down route by walking up & down the stairs with one hand on the wall- nothing.)

I have been back there several times over the years but never had any trouble."


I magicked the font as well - it seemed more appropriate! And it's a good tale for
http://forum.forteantimes.com/index.php?threads/time-or-dimensional-slips.13755/
 

Ermintruder

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#3
Conwy (the Welsh spelling)
Dammit, I forgot that possible alternative (have edited the thread title accordingly)

And, wow, yes @escargot1 I can certainly relate to your trapped/lost experience, at least partly. There are so many discontinuous levels and sub-sub rooms/halls throughout the castle, that being unable to find your way out is unavoidable and constantly frightning.

That deep water-filled well is terrifying....but not as horrific as the 'prisoner drop', arranged such that prisoners were just flung down into the foundations far below the banquet-hall floors. The current prisoner, a modern-day artpiece (which must be 25ft tall) is a metallic dragonwraith.

I love the woodsprite guard...



You keep looking up, over your shoulder, expecting to see the shadows of the Mabingion serpents flying overhead...


And how may medival castles have their own railway suspension bridge??


(ps in a respectful but incredulous vein: how on earth do children with dyslexia actually learn to read, in Wales, whether it be in Welsh or English? I've always been a cautious survivor with Gaelic, but written Welsh is just so confusing (and, I notice, inconsistent even within it's own vocabulary, when spelling English loan-words)
 

rynner2

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#7
"And how may medival castles have their own railway suspension bridge??"

The Ordnance Survey map decribes the railway bridge as a Tube Bridge. It even has a Wiki page:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conwy_Railway_Bridge

The Conwy Railway Bridge carries the North Wales coast railway line across the River Conwy between Llandudno Junction and the town of Conwy. The wrought iron tubular bridge, which is now Grade I listed, was built in the 19th century by Robert Stephenson.
...
The project's architect was Francis Thompson who dressed the pylons at either end as barbicans, complete with crenellated turrets, arrow slits and bartizans to complement the adjacent Conwy Castle, an Edwardian fortification that had stood on the promontory since the late 13th century. The bridge contractor was a William Evans. Construction began in 1846.


The suspension bridge between the Rail and main road bridges is even older.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conwy_Suspension_Bridge

The Conwy Suspension Bridge is a Grade I-listed structure and is one of the first road suspension bridges in the world. Located in the medieval town of Conwy in Conwy county borough, North Wales, it is now only passable on foot. The bridge is now in the care of the National Trust. It originally carried the road from Chester to Bangor.
...
Built by Thomas Telford, the 99.5-metre-long (326 ft) suspension bridge[1] spans the River Conwy next to Conwy Castle, a World Heritage Site. The bridge was built in 1822–26 at a cost of £51,000 and replaced the ferry at the same point. It is in the same style as one of Telford's other bridges, the Menai Suspension Bridge crossing the Menai Strait.


A lot of famous engineers and bridges in a small area, as the Menai Bridges are not far away, so the connections between them are not surprising.

I once sailed past Conway/Conwy and under the Menai bridges, but the Conwy bridges (and Castle) cannot easily be seen from the bay leading to the Menai strait. An interesting area missed, but we were on passage from Scotland to Devon and didn't have much time for sightseeing... :(
 

JamesWhitehead

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#9
Five Haunted Places in Conwy.

I have many happy memories of Conwy, mostly from the years I lived down the road in Bangor. We would often visit the Italian restaurant opposite the castle. It is many years since I was inside the castle itself but I have reason to remember one childhood visit, because I was within a whisker of being run-over, dashing across the busy road next to the bridge. I was nearly one of the ghosts!

The congestion in the walled town was notorious in the summer months especially; the tunnel under the estuary was not opened until 1991. :)
 

JamesWhitehead

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#10
how on earth do children with dyslexia actually learn to read, in Wales
Dyslexia was pretty much invented in Wales. The Psychology Department at Bangor pioneered research into the condition(s) and sent out their graduates to influential posts in education across the principality. The result was a much higher diagnosis level in Wales than elsewhere. The revival of Welsh as a literary language and academic study is fairly recent. For years it was essentially a spoken vernacular, strongly discouraged in schools. The notorious wooden plaques hung around the necks of children who dared to use Welsh within the hearing of their teachers survive in museums. Known as the "Welsh Not" or "Welsh Stick" according to Wikipedia. :eek:
 
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#11
Dyslexia was pretty much invented in Wales. The Psychology Department at Bangor pioneered research into the condition(s) and sent out their graduates to influential posts in education across the principality. The result was a much higher diagnosis level in Wales than elsewhere. The revival of Welsh as a literary language and academic study is fairly recent. For years it was essentially a spoken vernacular, strongly discouraged in schools. The notorious wooden plaques hung around the necks of children who dared to use Welsh within the hearing of their teachers survive in museums. KNown as the "Welsh Not" or "Welsh Stick" according to Wikipedia. :eek:
I was at Holyhead Comprehensive in the early 70's and Welsh language lessons were mandatory as was Welsh literature (taught in Welsh). As I recall, all of the teachers could speak Welsh and there were a number of people for whom English was almost their seocnd language and teachers spoke to them in Welsh if required (NOT as a means of excluding English speakers).

Despite being a third year when arriving, I was forced to learn Welsh (at that level) and endure the punishments for 'poor work'. Until my father called the camp liaison officer and he said (paraphrasing) "This again, I'll call them and quote the race relations act again.". Suddenly I didn't have to take Welsh.
 

JamesWhitehead

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#12
As I recall, all of the teachers could speak Welsh
Yes, Gwynedd had a Welsh-language policy and would only employ teachers who could speak it. When I trained as a teacher, I had to be placed in a Clwyd school fifty miles from college. :eek:
 

escargot

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#13
I lived in Conwy for a while and know the town and area well. When I went back there some years later with the first Mr Snail I was warmly welcomed by the locals, who remembered me well. Not him though! He wasn't amused. :D

In my current occupation I travel around Conwy by rail. Makes me miss the old place!
The famous Liverpool Arms on the old quay closed down for a while but has now re-opened. I'll have to pop in for a pint some time. Had many happy times in there.

Back then the nearest train station was Llandudno Junction, a mile or so outside then across the estuary. Now of course the old Conway station has been revived. A good thing too.
 

Ermintruder

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#14
I did wonder how you'd managed to get quite so high up for that last shot!
Annoyingly, I was at the precise location from which that picture was taken. But I now can't find my version of it, hence the borrow of an online one.

I would've been perched overthe East Barbican, mid-way between Chapel Tower and the King's Tower




@escargot1 do you remember how complicated the rooms arrangements were, around the King's Secret Viewing Cell, off the Chapel? Bearing in mind that the following picture is a depiction of existing remnant reality, not an artist's impression (incidently, I opine that this Forum is a classroom, for copywrite purposes). Even the chapel windows are still glazed....
 
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Ermintruder

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Incidently, within the shadow of Conwy Castle, there's what claims to be the UK's biggest supplier of knights' supplies (suits of armour, chain mail, helmets, swords and suchlike).

Ideal for battle reenactments, faux hauntings and scaring people away from Old Man Smith's goldmine ('and I would've gotten away with it if it hadn't been for you meddling kids')
 
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escargot

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#16
Ahhh, Berry Street! Did you know that this street was once the main thoroughfare, and is reputed to have been dug up for burying the dead of the Plague? It was then renamed Burial Street. :eek:

So the story goes. ;)

We have a booklet somewhere about the famous ghosts of Conwy. Place is stuffed with'em. In fact, one of my kids saw one there.
 

Ermintruder

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We have a booklet somewhere about the famous ghosts of Conwy. Place is stuffed with'em. In fact, one of my kids saw one there.
Oh, please do tell!! More info is required....

I had a really weird feeling, walking along the north wall, out to the postern gate above the harbour, which was only sorted-out by a boat-trip out to Llandudno's west coast.

(I also loved 'Britain's Smallest House', which is one of the Five Haunted Places in Conwy referenced by @JamesWhitehead ....so small, a ghost would hardly have any room to spook of)...it overlooks the harbour dockside, built against the walls and under the postern itself.
 

escargot

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#18
Thought you'd never ask! ;)

My kids and I visited the beautiful Plas Mawr, the Elizabethan house with the gruesome history. It was early winter time and we were the last visitors so the people at the front door asked us to pop back and tell us when we left so they could lock up.

We agreed and spent a good while wandering around admiring the atmospheric house and taking photos (on an old-fashioned film camera) which we hoped would later reveal proof of ghosts.

The last part we visited was the ancient garden, overlooked by the back of the house. When we left I went over to the front desk as promised and told the owners that we were leaving. Son 1, aged about 10, piped up 'But we weren't the last visitors, Mum! What about the lady who was watching us in the garden from the upstairs window?'

But we definitely WERE alone in there. :eek:
 

Ermintruder

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#19
Ahhh, Berry Street! Did you know that this street was once the main thoroughfare, and is reputed to have been dug up for burying the dead of the Plague? It was then renamed Burial Street. :eek:
Therefore, you're telling me that the part of the wall that I'd earlier said where I felt the oddest impression just happens to pass directly above the specific 'Berry Street', which I didn't know back then in Conwy, or when I posted my statement. Interesting coincidence.... 2016-06-05 23.34.42.png
 

titch

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#20
I visited conwy castle in 2014, it is a spectacular castle, i prefer dover since dover has such a long history of use, from iron age to roman, saxon ,medieval, napoleonic and both world wars, but conwy has a place in my heart since the naughty english bankrupted themselves building it and all the other castle so were unable to do the same mischief in scotland, wales you took one for the team.
 
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