White Castle is a mediæval castle located in Monmouthshire. The name "White Castle" was first recorded in the thirteenth century, and was derived from the whitewash put on the stone walls. The castle was originally called Llantilio Castle (recorded in the Pipe Rolls in 1186), after Llantilio Crossenny, the mediæval manor of which it was a part.
Known as one of the "Three Castles", there has been a defensive structure at the site since the late eleventh century.
Building of White Castle
The earliest castle at this site consisted of two earthworks - the pear shaped inner ward with a surrounding water-filled moat, and a crescent shaped outer bailey to the south known as the hornwork. To the north of the inner ward was a large area enclosed by a defensive bank, which may have been used for armies in the field to camp in safety, without fear of a surprise attack.
The earliest buildings and walls were almost certainly built of wood, although a square stone keep was added sometime before the stewardship of Ralph of Grosmont, who recorded an expenditure on "the dwelling in the tower of Llantilio" in the Pipe Rolls of 1186-87, implying that structure was already present. Further monies spent at the site were most likely for the construction of a stone curtain wall around the inner ward.
Like its fellow Monnow Valley strongholds, White Castle was significantly altered by Hubert de Burgh as has been described above. The orientation of the castle shifted, with entry no longer through the southern hornwork. Instead, a new twin-towered gatehouse was built at the northern end of the inner ward. Wooden drawbridges would have controlled access from both the north and the south of the castle. Within the inner ward there would have been residences, great hall, a chapel, kitchen and brewhouse. Hubert's work here can be compared to Montgomery Castle which he also held and helped design between 1223 and 1232.
The hornwork, now at the rear of the castle, was maintained as a defense for a small rear postern gate. The northern enclosure, previously defended by an earthwork, was built into a large outer bailey, with four projecting towers and a gatehouse on its eastern corner. Geophysical evidence suggests that there were small timber buildings within the walls of the outer ward, as well one large building, thought to be used as a barn.
Visiting the castle
White Castle was frequently visited and, apparently, painted by German Deputy Führer Rudolf Hess during the period when he was held in Maindiff Court Military Hospital at Abergavenny, between 1942 and his trial in 1945
The castle today stands in partial ruin, although there have been few significant losses to time. The stone walls and towers of the inner and outer ward still stand, although their inner floors are missing, as are portions of the upper level of the walls. A modern wooden bridge spans the moat between the inner and outer ward, and within one tower of the inner gatehouse the stairwell has been restored, allowing access to the top of the tower, and a commanding view of the surrounding countryside.
The castle is maintained by Cadw, and access is controlled during the summer months. The rest of the year the castle is an open site, and may be visited at any reasonable time of day. White Castle is located 1 mile north of the village of Llantilio Crossenny, along the B4233 between Monmouth and Abergavenny.