Raglan in Gwent was, apparently, one of the last medieval castles to be constructed in England and Wales. The site was granted by Strongbow de Clare to his man Walter Bloet. The Bloets continued to hold Raglan until the fourteenth century at which point it was transmitted to the Berkeley family when Elizabeth Bloet ‘ The Lady of Raglan’ inherited her father’s estates. Sir James Berkeley died and Elizabeth married for a second time to Sir William ap Thomas – and he’s responsible for the building as it stands today. And that takes us slap bang into the fifteenth century and the Wars of the Roses.
By 1441 ap Thomas was steward for the Lordship of Abergavenny which is, of course, associated with the Neville family. He was also Richard of York’s steward in Wales – Richard was Lord of Usk by descent from Lady Elizabeth de Burgh making him a descendent of William Marshal and Isabel de Clare. William’s service to Richard let to him being called the ‘Blue Knight of Gwent’. Anyway, that aside after Elizabeth Bloet died William ap Thomas became a tenant to his Berkeley step-son. James Berkeley. In 1432 William purchased Raglan from the Berkeley family which comes as a relief because I was a bit concerned I was going to have to untangle the Berkeley family tree and its various feuds. Just a quick reminder Berkeley Castle is on the opposite side of the River Severn.
When William died in 1445 his son also named William adopted the name Herbert – I think it was because it was chosen because of a Norman ancestor but I’m not totally sure – given that he would have been styled William ap William or Gwilym ap Gwilym. In 1461 William Herbert was with Richard of York’s son Edward at Mortimer’s Cross where he commanded the left flank. In July Edward, now King Edward IV, awarded Herbert a barony and he replaced Jasper Tudor as Earl of Pembroke and gained wardship of Henry Tudor. Essentially William was Jasper’s main Welsh rival during the Wars of the Roses which may be a bit of a simplification but it helps make sense of the politics. The plan was for Henry to marry one of Herbert’s daughters – Maud who eventually married into the Percy family. But having served the Yorkists loyally Herbert fell foul of the Earl of Warwick when he rebelled against King Edward IV in 1469. William and his brother Richard were executed in the aftermath the Battle of Edgecote Moor. William’s eldest son, another William, was married to Mary Woodville a sister of Edward IV’s queen Elizabeth Woodville.