The Pleasantest Spot in Wales
Thus described Gerald of Wales (1146-1223) his birthplace Manorbier Castle at the coast of south Wales. I won't give it this title alone of all places I've seen, but it is surely among the prettiest sites. And since I caught a sunny day for my visit, Manorbier showed itself to advantage.
12th century Giraldus Cambrensis must have been quite a character, churchman, writer, traveler, diplomat, and a spy and outlaw at a time. But we can thank him for a fine description of Medieaval Wales. His grandfather, a Norman lord of the de Barri family, was granted the lands of Manorbier some time after 1003 and built a timber castle that was expanded in stone by his son William, Gerald's father. The castle remained in possession of the family until 1359 when it fell back to the crown.
William married a daughter of the famous Nest of Deheubarth daughter of Prince Rhys ap Tewdwr, which made Gerald a descendant of two noble houses, Norman and Welsh. Manorbier Castle, inner ward
Manorbier, though well fortified, presents a less grand impression than fe. Pembroke or Caernarfon. It reminded me more of the German castles around my hometown albeit it keeps its specific Norman features that distinguish it from our hill castles. It is more the size and the fact it has become some sort of park. The other Norman castles only have lawns in the wards but no trees and flowers which of course, adds to the enormous scale of the places, while the German castles display trees in the yards and bushes in the bailey. You may remember the foliage on my photos from the Hanstein and Plesse. The inner ward of Manorbier tops them with its abundance of flowers and greens growing in beds along the walls. Manorbier Castle, inner ward
Another feature Manorbier has in common with 'my' castles is the hall-keep that is built directly into the inner curtain wall, like this example
(second photo) from the Hanstein shows, instead of a freestanding structure typical for Norman castles. In the 1260ies a chapel was added to the inner buildings which is preserved until today, as well as the vaulted basement under the entire hall block.
In former times, Manorbier was closer to the sea that still can be seen from the windows, and had a sea gate. But the changes in geography have added a fine beach today.Beach near Manorbier Castle
I spent some time down there, walked through the breakers playing on the sand and enveloping the rocks with foam, sat in the warm sand and felt like during my childhood holidays at the Baltic Sea. Including the sand I kept finding in my clothes the rest of the day. Memories indeed, lol. I could not resist to bring some pretty stones and mussles, either.
A pleasant spot indeed, and a fine day to remember.