Picton Castle (Welsh: Castell Pictwn) is a medieval castle near Haverfordwest in Pembrokeshire, Wales. Originally built at the end of the 13th century by a Flemish knight, it later came into the hands of Sir John Wogan, and is till this day inhabited by his descendants, the Philipps family (see Baron Milford and Viscount St Davids). It is of unusual construction and has been remodelled several times during its history. It is a Grade I listed building.
Map of Picton Castle, The Rhos, Haverfordwest SA62 4AS, UK
Until the late eleventh century, this part of southwestern Wales was part of the Welsh kingdom of Deheubarth. After the death in 1093 of the king of Deheubarth, Rhys ap Tewdwr, in the Battle of Brecon, the Normans took advantage of the lack of leadership among the Welsh. and the English forces seized much of South Wales. To supplement their castle with its garrison at Pembroke, Henry I of England sought to colonise the surrounding area by settling Flemings in Rhos and Deugleddau, in the neighbourhood of Haverfordwest. One of these Flemish barons was Wizo, who built and lived at Wiston Castle. Wizo began to grant estates from the land he had been given to his followers, and one of these knights was granted the land at Picton, which was three miles to the south of Wiston. This Flemish knight was not a great historical figure and his name is not recorded. The site chosen for the castle he built may have been on a mound a few hundred yards to the east of the present house, but in any event, the present building was in place by the end of the thirteenth century and was by then in the hands of the Wogan family, who were now the owners of Wiston Castle.
The circumstances under which Picton Castle came to be owned by the Wogans is unclear, but it may have been through a failure to beget male heirs or through the marriage of an heiress to one of the Wogans. By the 13th century, Wiston Castle seems to have been abandoned and the Wogan family lived at Picton Castle, where their heirs have lived ever since. Picton Castle began as a motte castle and was reconstructed in stone by the Sir John Wogan between 1295 and 1308. The design was unusual, there being no courtyard internally, the main building being protected by seven circular towers which projected from the wall. At the east end, two of these towers acted as a gatehouse, and the portcullised-entrance between them led straight into the lower part of the great hall. At this time the windows were narrow slits but these were replaced in about 1400 by large windows and a grand recessed arch with large window was built in the gatehouse.
The Picton Castle estate came into the hands of the Philipps family when Sir Thomas ap Philipps of Cilsant married Jane, daughter of Sir Henry Dwnn, and heiress of Picton in the 1490s. Sir John Philipps, who inherited the castle in the 15th century, remodelled the building and created a new entrance which remained until the 1820s when a new entrance was designed by Thomas Rowlands (who also designed Slebech Church). In 1611, King James I wanted to pay for his army in Ireland and decided to raise the money by selling baronetcies. Sir John Philipps paid £1,095 for his hereditary title.
The estate remained with the Philipps family until the death of Lord Milford in 1823, when it was inherited by his cousin Richard Grant, who assumed the surname Philipps and was created a Baronet in 1828 and Baron Milford in 1847. His heir was his half-brother, the Reverend James Henry Alexander Philipps (formerly Gwyther), who assumed by royal licence the surname and arms of Philipps. On his death the estate passed to his son-in-law, Charles Edward Gregg Philipps, who was created a Baronet, of Picton, in 1887 (see Philipps baronets) then to Sir Richard Foley Foley-Philipps, cousin of Sir John Erasmus, and grandson of Charles Edward Gregg Philipps. The estate is now run by the Picton Castle Trust a Registered Charity. The castle is a Grade I listed building and the walled garden is listed at Grade II.
Picton Castle is open to visitors for guided tours from spring to autumn and the gardens are open all year round. They extend to about 40 acres and include a walled garden and a Mediterranean garden created in about 1800. There is a restaurant and shop and self-catering accommodation is available in several cottages. Events such as exhibitions, fairs and workshops are held periodically and the venue is available for weddings.