Holt Castle (Flintshire, Wales)
Updated: Apr 23, 2019
Holt Castle was built between 1277 and 1311. Construction was started by Edward I in response to the Welsh Wars, he then granted the lordship to by John de Warenne (Earl of Surrey) in 1282 who was tasked with completing the castle as a replacement to the administrative centre at Castell Dinas Bran.
Although the town of Holt was burnt down in 1400 by the Welsh forces of Owain Glyndŵr the castle managed to avoid being taken.
The castle was built in the banks of the River Dee on the English-Welsh border. Constructed from local sandstone and sited on a 12-metre high promontory created from quarrying on the river banks, it was unusual in that it was pentagonal in shape. The outer walls were 2.1 metres thick and flanked by projecting drum towers on the corners. An engraving from 1610 shows 4 circular towers and 1 rectangular.
When the Warenne line ended in 1347 the castle reverted back to the Crown. Henry VII granted Holt Castle to Sir William Stanley, who is possibly responsible for the later rectangular tower. After Henry VII’s death the lordship was granted to Thomas Seymour of Sudely, who was executed for treason in 1549.
For most of the First English Civil War, Holt was garrisoned by Royalists troops. It was captured by the Parliamentarians in 1643 but retaken by the Royalists in spring of 1644. After they had surrendered, thirteen of the Parliamentarian garrison were put to the sword and their bodies were thrown into the moat.
The castle was demolished during the Civil War and all useful materials subsequently plundered. It is presently maintained by the local council and free to access. Unfortunately very little of the castle remains and it requires a fair amount of imagination to envision how it looked in its splendour.
Site visited December 2018
Photos © Completely Castles 2018