Difficult to get a good photograph because the only way to really appreciate it’s position is from the road below… with nowhere to stop! As you approach it seems to grow out of the rock above. An incredible defensive site.
The first Castle, a wooden motte and bailey, was built by Roger de Montgomery in 1070. It wasn’t actually on the site of what we now see as Montgomery Castle. It was about a mile away on a mound known as Hen Domen. The mound is still visible but is on private land. The wooden castle was inhabited for over a century before being destroyed in 1215, when Llewellyn the Great allied himself with the Barons who forced King John to sign Magna Carta.
After the Welsh insurgency, a decision was made to build a stone castle during the reign of Henry III. Until 1219, William Marshal acted as regent for the boy King. After the death of the Marshal, Hubert de Burgh dominated the early reign of young Henry.
Hubert de Burgh, 1st Earl of Kent, completed the first phase in 1228, with additions over the next few years. Montgomery became a valuable location for meetings and treaty negotiations. During the reign of Edward I, his new castles reduced the significance of Montgomery. It became a military backwater and prison. By the early 14th century it’s use gradually changed from military to residential. In 1402 it was attacked by Owain Glyndwr. The Castle held out but the town was sacked and burned. It remained a ruin for two centuries.
An elegant timber house was completed in 1625, in the middle ward, for Edward Herbert, 1st Baron Herbert of Cherbury, descended from a younger son of the Herbert Earl’s of Pembroke. A miniature portrait of the young courtier can be seen at Powis Castle, now held by the Herbert Earls of Powis. At the time, he was a close associate of John Donne and Ben Johnson, both of whom honoured him in their poetry. He was appointed a member of the Council of War, but was imprisoned by Parliament. He vowed to have nothing further to do with negotiations and retired to Montgomery Castle.
He surrendered the Castle to the Parliamentarians in 1644 and it was slighted in 1649. Much of the masonry was plundered, leaving the ruin we see today.