Holt Castle is situated on the banks of the River Dee on the Wales-England border, a few miles north-east of Wrexham. The castle was built between 1283 and 1311 by John de Warenne and his grandson, successive earls of Surrey, following the defeat of Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, prince of Wales.
Holt Castle was pentagonal in plan with five massive round towers surrounding a central courtyard. The castle had a remarkably eventful history:
- Master James of St George, Edward I’s castle builder, was probably involved in its design
- Edward, the Black Prince, temporarily took possession of the castle in the 14th century following the death of John de Warenne in 1347.
- Richard II seized the castle in 1397 and made it his own private treasure house.
- The castle held out for the Crown during the uprising of Owain Glyndŵr against Henry IV.
- Sir William Stanley made the castle his home in 1484 after backing Richard III as king and then changed sides a year later at the Battle of Bosworth helping Henry VII defeat Richard III.
- Henry VII visited the castle in 1495 following the arrest of Sir William Stanley for treason.
- William Brereton, the steward of Bromfield and Yale who lived at Holt Castle during the reign of Henry VIII, was falsely accused of having an affair with the king’s second wife, Ann Boleyn. Brereton was tried and beheaded.
- The castle was a royalist stronghold during the Civil War and withstood an eleven month siege in 1646-7 until the garrison surrendered when they realized supporting Charles I was a lost cause.
Following the castle’s surrender at the end of the Civil War, the site was used as a stone quarry and all that remains above ground today is the central courtyard.
Following a four year restoration project, the remains of Holt Castle re-opened to the public in June 2015. Visitors can now enjoy the new and improved interpretation. Steps have been installed to allow access to the castle’s former courtyard.
Holt Castle is an open access site. A footpath leads from Castle Street via Castle Gardens (LL13 9AX) to the castle site. Parking and toilets are available on Green Street (LL13 9JF).
Guided tours for groups are available on request. Contact Wrexham County Borough Museum & Archives 01978 297 460 for details.
- History of the Castle
- Reconstructing the Castle
- Virtual Holt Castle
- Holt Castle – The Towers
- Learning Resources
- Tips for Travellers
Holt Castle is a Scheduled Ancient Monument. No ground disturbance or metal detecting is allowed within the protected area without consent from Cadw.
The Holt Castle Conservation and Interpretation Project was funded by Northern Marches Cymru, Wrexham County Borough Council and Cadw.
Wrexham County Borough Council would like to acknowledge the support of Holt Community Council, Holt Town Trust and Holt Local History Society.