At the end of the 11th century the Normans extended their conquest of England into Wales and Pembroke Castle became the centre of Norman rule in South Pembrokeshire.
Gerald de Windsor was constable of the Castle on behalf of Henry I when he decided to build his own fortification on the Carew River, some ten miles up the tidal waterway from Pembroke.
This was not the first settlement on the site however. Excavation has revealed an Iron Age settlement. A substantial five ditched promontory fort has been unearthed, together with large quantities of Roman pottery. A Dark Age settlement or fort may also have existed on the site.
Gerald’s fortification was probably built of earth and wooden stakes. This fortification was later replaced by a stone Castle. Much of what remains of Carew Castle today was the work of Sir Nicholas de Carew (who died in 1311), who was responsible in particular for the east and west ranges.
In the late fifteenth century the Castle was greatly improved and extended by a very colourful character, Sir Rhys ap Thomas (1449-1525). He altered both the east and west ranges, and was responsible for many of the Bath stone windows and other features. Gaining the implicit trust of both Henry VII and Henry VIII he was said ‘to rule this corner of Wales like a King’.
The final development took Carew from Medieval fortress to Elizabethan manor. Sir John Perrot (1530-1592) built the great northern range, with its huge windows overlooking the Millpond. However he was not destined to enjoy his magnificent new home, for he died in the Tower of London before the work could be completed.
In 1983 the National Park Authority leased the Castle and surrounding area for 99 years. We began an extensive programme of restoration and management with the aims of conserving the buildings, improving their setting and increasing public access and enjoyment. The restoration programme was long-term, involving a team of masons and grant-aided by Cadw: Welsh Historic Monuments.
The Castle is now a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) due to its bat population and several locally or regionally rare species of plants described on our Wildlife page.
Major renovation works were completed at Carew Castle in 2013, including reinstatement of the Lesser Hall roof, a new visitor centre and shop, as well as car park enhancements.
The Castle is open daily all year, The Mill is open between March and October.
For further information phone Pembrokeshire Country Council on 01437 764551 ext. 5227 during office hours. Admission charges are payable.
Disabled Access: There is wheelchair access to the ground floor of both the Castle, the Mill and both shops. The mile round walk is also wheelchair friendly. There are two disabled toilets situated at castle reception and mill lane (opened with RADA key). A wheelchair is available from the castle reception for loan for those who have mobility difficulties.
Toilets: Main public toilets are situated at Carew Castle reception. (Please note: there are no public toilets at Carew Tidal Mill).
Gifts: Shops are situated at both castle and mill receptions open 10 am – 5 pm (during main season.
Car Parking: There is ample parking for both coaches and cars.
Picnic Sites: The main picnic site is situated on the North side of the Mill Pond. However, all are welcome to picnic on any grassed areas open to the public.
Guided Tours: Tours of the castle are provided free of charge at 2.30 pm daily except during winter opening hours