#95 Chepstow Castle
Gwent, Wales
1067-1300
This is NOT an official Lego site

This project is in honor of Frances and Joseph Gies, my aunt and uncle, whose many books about medieval life and castles,
beginning with
Life in a Medieval City in 1969, have been a continuing source of inspiration to me. Their Life in a Medieval
Castle
, published by Crowell in 1974, tells the story of Chepstow Castle and can still be found 30 years later in many bookstores.

Chepstow Castle is one of the most famous and formidible fortresses in Wales. The castle is located on the River Wye which divides England from south Wales, near the main road from Gloucestershire into Gwent. Guarding the bridge on the most southern coastal land route into Wales, Chepstow's importance increased because the steep river cliffs of the Wye left no other useable crossing until one reached Monmouth about 15 miles up the river (see Monnow Bridge page). The castle also guarded the flourishing Norman town of Cheap-stow (= 'the market town') at the mouth of the Wye.
The construction of Chepstow began within months of the battle of Hastings, when William fitz Osbern was made Earl of Hereford and built Chepstow 1 (see stages below) as his base for the conquest of the Welsh kingdom of Gwent. The Great Keep in the center is the earliest dateable secular building in Britain. Chepstow was granted to the de Clare family about 1115, but no new construction was done until the castle, part of the vast inheritance of Isabella de Clare upon the death of her father Strongbow, passed to William Marshall upon his marriage to Isabella. William's addition of two towers to the vulnerable east end of the castle was greatly augmented by the further additions by 4 of his 5 sons between 1219 and 1245. These improvements included the lower ward with its gatehouse on the east end and the upper ward on the west end with two separate battlemented residential towers. The west end of the Great Tower was heightened as well.
The Marshall brothers all died childless by 1245 and the families holdings were thus divided among the sisters. The eldest, Maud, received Chepstow which she passed upon her death to son Roger Bigod II, the Earl of Norfolk. While the Earl's interests were elsewhere, his son Roger Bigod III was very interested in his Marcher lordship when he inherited Chepstow in 1270. The lower ward of the castle received an enlarged curtain tower and a major residential range, the west end was strengthened further with the barbican gatehouse, and the Great Tower was further embellished. Bigod's numerous building projects left him in debt and Chepstow passed to the king upon his death in 1306. Most major action was avoided at Chepstow until the Civil War, when the castle's impregnable location and medeival defenses quickly succumbed to Cromwellian cannon.

 

Chepstow 1: William fitz
Osbern's castle about
1067-1075.
Chepstow 2: William Marshall the
Elder's castle with new defenses,
about 1200.
Chepstow 3: Chepstow is enlarged by'
the younger Marshalls from 1219-1245.
Chepstow 4: Roger Bigod III completes
Chepstow as his noble residence from
1270 to 1300.

 

General Plan of Chepstow Castle
Drawing of the ruin with key
Drawing of the Gatehouse
about 1240 (Chepstow 3)
Drawing of the Great Tower'
about 1250 (Chepstow 3)

 

Construction Photos

Construction began January 17, 2004. Castle finally completed April 25.

East view of layout - with Marten's
Tower outlines in the foreground.
The cliffs along the River Wye
begin to take shape...
Setting Marten's Tower at a
45 angle is one of several
difficult tasks to resolve in Lego.
Construction continues on the
Outer Gatehouse and
Residential Range...
Finally on February 22 the east
face is complete, protecting the
castle's most vulnerable part.
Here's a view from the river of
the almost finished Residential
Range & Marten's Tower.
On March 13 the eastern Outer and
Wards are completed, and the Great
Tower rises on the west end...
This view shows the completed
Residential Range plus the
Great Tower and Gallery forming.

 

Photos of the Lego Model
Built Winter-Spring 2004
The model contains 26,352 bricks, making it the third largest of my castles, after Chillon and Wartburg. It is of course
the longest! The castle itself was built with 16,785 light gray Lego bricks; the cliff with 3,150 dark gray bricks and
plates plus 116 BURPs and LURPs; and the landscaping with 1007 green slopes.
Here's the view approaching the
outer bailey from the northeast.
The view from the east with the
huge Marten's tower.
The entire 10 foot, 1 inch model from the
southeast.
Here's a scene showing some of
the residential range in the
lower ward.
Here's a detail of the
gate between the lower
and middle baileys.
And a view of the residential
range, middle ward and great
tower from the WNW.
The cove beneath the Hall
Block - used to supply the
castle from the river.
A closer view of the Great Tower
and its gallery, plus the upper ward.
A panorama of the entire castle from the south. The castle from the WSW.
The west barbican and upper bailey also
guard the massive Great Tower
The upper gatehouse is the
west entrance to Chepstow.
The barbican with the timber-
backed south-west tower.
The barbican and upper bailey
are separated by yet another
drawbridge.

 

Build Your Own
The plan for Chepstow was drawn in 1990, but at that time I not only
lacked the Lego to build the castle, the old ping pong table on which
I built would not handle an 8'6" model. Not a problem with the new
table though! The model is expanded to 10 feet!
Here's the link to the 76KB Lego Plan - good for an overview but not
large enough for an actual builder. Therefore I've broken the plan into
4 overlapping sections, each large enough to be readable.
Barbican & Upper Ward Great Tower Middle Ward Lower Ward



Other Chepstow Castle pages:
http://www.castlewales.com/chepstow.html
http://www.chepstowe.co.uk/castle.html
http://www.chepstow.co.uk/castle.htm
http://www.castlexplorer.co.uk/wales/chepstow/chepstow.php

Return to the main castle page.

Castles created by Robert Carney
Page created & maintained by
Robert Carney