Caldicot Castle (Welsh: Castell Cil-y-coed) is an extensive castle in the town of Caldicot, Monmouthshire in South Wales. It was a possession of Thomas of Woodstock, a son of King Edward III of England.
In 1158 the manor of Caldicot passed to Humphrey de Bohun, 3rd Earl of Hereford. He was responsible for building the stone keep and curtain walls of the present-day Castle. The de Bohun family held Caldicot for over two centuries. In 1376 the manor, along with 70 others, passed to Thomas Woodstock, third son of King Edward III, when he married Alianore de Bohun.
With the death of Edward III the throne passed to his grandson, the nine year old Richard II. As the new King’s uncle, Thomas played an important role advising him. He was created Constable of England. He rarely visited Caldicot, his main estates being at Pleshey in Essex, close to the seat of power.
In 1381, however, Essex was convulsed by the Peasants’ Revolt. This may be why Thomas decided to spend part of that year in Caldicot. During his stay he gave orders for major new work to be done on the castle. A new gatehouse and drawbridge were constructed. At the rear of the castle a dovecote was replaced by a new tower with private chambers, now known as the Woodstock tower. At the foot of the Woodstock tower two carved stones were to be placed, one marked ”Thomas” the other ”Alianore”.
As time passed relations between Thomas and King Richard grew increasingly strained. In 1391, on the orders of the King, Thomas was kidnapped and murdered. His property was confiscated and passed into the hands of the Crown. In 1399 Henry Bolingbroke seized the throne from Richard, and although Mary de Bohun did not live to see her husband crowned Henry IV, her son, born at Monmouth Castle, would be one of the country’s great heroes, Henry V, victor of Agincourt.
The division of the de Bohuns estates was revised after the death of Alianore and Mary’s mother Joan, who had outlived both of her daughters by some twenty years. Alianore’s eldest daughter and heir, Anne, lost Caldicot to Mary’s son Henry V, and so Caldicot became part of the great Duchy of Lancaster. Held by Henry’s widow, Katherine of Valois, Caldicot was later granted into the stewardship of the Herbert family for much of the fifteenth century, and then leased in the sixteenth century to their successors of the Somerset with their power base at Raglan.
Caldicot Castle was evidently neglected, fell into ruin and became little more than a farmyard. The castle was sold to Charles Lewis of St Pierre in 1857. In 1885 he sold it to Joseph Richard Cobb, who began the restoration of the castle as his family home.
From 1885 to 1963, the Cobb family owned the castle. Joseph Cobb’s family remained at the castle after his death and it was his son Geoffrey Wheatley Cobb, and in particular Geoffrey Wheatley’s wife Anna, who continued the work of restoration.
Geoffrey Wheatley died in 1931. In 1943, after Anna’s death, the castle passed to Joseph’s grandson, Lieutenant Colonel Geoffrey Cobb. In part to counteract the shortage of housing in Caldicot at the time, Geoffrey and his wife Barbara opened the castle to a succession of young married couples and families, who rented furnished apartments in three of the towers and in parts of the gatehouse.
In 1963, Chepstow Rural District Council bought the castle from the Cobb family for £12,000. By then, much council housing was available locally and the tenancies gradually came to an end.
The castle is reputed to be haunted by a number of ghosts and spirits including a grey lady, hooded monks and a mischievous poltergeist. At the centre of the activity is the Gatehouse Banqueting Hall; shadowy figures, as well as moving furniture, has been witnessed in this area. Many people have experienced unusual cold spots, as well as hearing footsteps in vacant parts of the castle. The Castle offers Fright Nights and Ghost Tours to visitors wishing to experience these mysterious goings-on for themselves.