Llansteffan Castle

Llansteffan Castle enjoys breathtaking views across the Carmarthenshire countryside and Tywi Estuary Pictures: Hawlfraint y Goron / Crown copyright (2021) Cymru Wales

THERE can be no denying it, Llansteffan Castle boasts one of the most stunning locations in Wales.

Crowning the top of a headland overlooking the lush Carmarthenshire countryside, with panoramic views across the sand-flats of the Tywi Estuary, its strategic position meant that it was fought over for hundreds of years.

The remains of the castle itself are significant too. Llansteffan’s original timber castle was gradually replaced in stone as Anglo-Norman Marcher lords and native Welsh rulers of Deheubarth (south-west Wales) sparred over its ownership. Its massive twin-towered gatehouse, built around 1280, still looms large.

The castle was held for the Welsh during Owain Glyndŵr’s war of independence, but eventually passed to the English Crown. In the late 15th Century, King Henry VII gave Llansteffan to his uncle and guardian, Jasper Tudor, earl of Pembroke.

It was at this time that the medieval gatehouse was blocked up to provide more living space. A smaller, simpler entrance was added alongside and it is this Tudor gateway that you pass through as you enter the castle today.

Working closely with the castle’s owner, Marian Evans, the owners recently commissioned artist Rubin Eynon and blacksmith Glen Adams to create a new pair of gates for the gateway. The brief was ‘functional as well as beautiful’, reflecting and celebrating the Tudor period of Llansteffan’s history.

The artists took inspiration from contemporary metalwork, such as
the wrought-iron gates at Chichester Cathedral, with their repeating forms and fixings of pins and rivets. Details include small brass plaques featuring emblems found on Jasper Tudor’s coat of arms, including a martlet — a swallow-like bird.

Wow-factor views are certainly part of Llansteffan’s appeal. This headland castle overlooks the green farmlands, swirling sea and gleaming sands of the Tywi Estuary and Carmarthen Bay.

The Llansteffan stronghold, which controlled an important river crossing, occupies a site that has been defended since prehistoric times. Its rough stone walls, dating from the late 12th Century, enclose an Iron Age promontory fort occupied in 600 BC. Although ruined, the castle retains its power to intimidate – especially when you approach its massive twin-towered gatehouse, built in around 1280 and still looming large.

Llansteffan is more than simply a tourist attraction these days. In 2016, husband and wife Marian and Rob Evans became the proud owners of Llansteffan Castle and Plas Farm… beginning a new chapter in the Castle’s history.

Marian founded Elevate BC, and the Castle became the venue for the multi-award winning consultancy which works with senior leaders and executives across Wales and the UK. Outdoor coaching at a tranquil location, whether it be a walk around the castle or on Llansteffan beach, has become hugely popular.

Marian and her associates are business leaders who are qualified executive coaches. The team is experienced, with the ability to empathise, challenge and support senior leaders to better performance.

Elevate BC’s coaching and mentoring service were born out of an unprecedented demand for clients seeking one-to-one support from Marian, who won the Inspirational Woman of the Decade award at Women in Business 2019.

Llansteffan Castle is also the perfect location for a fairy-tale wedding ceremony. One of the only castles to hold a wedding licence, Llansteffan is the proud recipient of TripAdvisor’s certificate of excellence, rated in the top 10 per cent of destinations worldwide and voted one of the nation’s most romantic locations.

Led by Beth, an award-winning planner and stylist, the events team have a passion for quality and a keen attention to detail. Ceremonies at Llansteffan Castle are bespoke and tailored to requirements.

Romantic, intimate wedding ceremonies take place within the serene walls of this majestic castle and a beautiful bespoke Llansteffan Castle ‘love lock’ as a unique memento of their day for the happy couple.

It is even possible to make the most of the glorious Carmarthenshire countryside and stunning coastline by extending celebrations for the weekend. A nearby spacious farmhouse accommodation boasts stunning estuary views and sleeps 10.

Llansteffan Castle is a popular venue for filming. Featuring on several Visit Wales campaigns across the world and in many adverts and productions UK-wide, including the popular television series One Man and his Dog and the Sky Cinema Original movie Six Minutes to Midnight, starring Dame Judi Dench and Eddie Izzard.

Gifts, clothing, pictures and paintings are among the items available for purchase in the Llansteffan Castle online shop.

For a full account of the history and description of the castle grounds you can refer to the Llansteffan Castle Guide leaflet (Cadw, Welsh Government) which can be purchased at the Village Stores or from the Beach Tea Rooms.

(sources include Cadw, Heritage in Wales, Llansteffan Castle, TripAdvisor)