Caldicot Castle, Buccaneers & Smugglers
Bank holidays are made for children. But do you ever get tired of taking them to the same thing? At Caldicot Castle in Monmouthshire, there is something different set against a stunnning backdrop of the castle.
Visitors to Caldicot Castle on the weekend of Sunday 2nd and Bank Holiday Monday 3rd May can experience the drama and tension as they travel back in time to 1674 and meet the famous buccaneer, Sir Henry Morgan and a crew of his most ferocious comrades from his notorious pirate vessel The Dolphin, newly returned from the pirate haunts of the Caribbean.
The deserted Castle of Caldicot sets the stage for a Secret Rendezvous for Morgan and his infamous crew to discuss terms of a Royal pardon over a jug or two of rum. Visitors can discover tales of piracy, and first hand accounts of raiding at will upon the Spanish Main, from Maracaibo to Panama. Unbeknownst to the crew the local authorities have heard of these scurrilous sea dogs lurking in the ruins. The constable and his town militia are poised to strike!
The year is 1674 and Sir Henry Morgan is busy making plans for his return to the Caribbean but news has reached him that could be beneficial. One of his old Buccaneer ships and its crew (the “Port Royal” a 12 Gun sloop commanded by Captain James Delliat) has sent him a missive. Having heard of his appointment as Lieutenant Governor of Jamaica they are keen to buy themselves a pardon & take the Kings Peace, although the Buccaneers wish to curry favour with the new LT Governor, they are however untrusting of the navy and will only deal with Morgan direct.
Morgan decides to travel to old homeland of Monmouthshire in Wales to meet with the crew. If he can come to a bargain over this, not only will he profit by it (as will the Royal Treasury!) It may also set an example & assist in convincing some of the other buccaneer commanders out in the Caribbean to change their ways. Morgan arranges to meet the pirates at the old ruins of Caldicot Castle where the crew of the ship have set up a careening camp (to clean the bottom of their ship) he arranges for food, rum and entertainments to assist in his bargaining.
Morgan meets up with the crew and they soon take to drinking and reminiscing on their old times on the Spanish Main. The Buccaneers then hold a council of war to vote on Morgan’s deal.
Unknown to them however a local militia captain (who has NOT been informed of this clandestine meeting) has been alarmed of the strange goings on at the ruined castle, He gathers his men and makes his way there to investigate and just as the deal is about to be sealed between Morgan and the crew, the militia stumble in on the scene. The Buccaneers immediately think they have been double crossed and in their stupor attack the militia, a fire fight, Pyros and some fearsome and deadly sword play ensues as the militia fight their way into the camp only to be outfought and eventually are will all be killed, captured or if they are lucky escape. However Morgan’s plans will have been scuppered and the pirates leave for their ship and back to the old pirating ways!
In the 17th century, buccaneers lived on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola and its tiny turtle-shaped neighbour, Tortuga. At first, they lived as hunters, and shot wild pigs with their long-barrelled muskets. Their name came from the special wooden huts called boucans where they smoked their meat.
Later, the governors of Caribbean islands such as Jamaica paid the buccaneers to attack Spanish treasure ships and ports. Some of the largest scale raids were led by the Welsh captain, Sir Henry Morgan. Although raids began in this way, with official backing, the buccaneers gradually became more and more out of control, eventually attacking any ship they thought carried valuable cargo, whether it belonged to an enemy country or not. The buccaneers had become true pirates.
Celebrated in ballads as the greatest of the buccaneers, Morgan was the leader of a motley band of pirates, privateers and soldiers from Port Royal in the late 17th Century. His bold exploits involved taking and sacking the wealthiest settlements of the New World. In 1668, Morgan quickly captured Puerto in an extraordinarily daring move–stormed and sacked the well-fortified city of Porto Bello on the Isthmus of Panama. In 1669 he made a successful raid on wealthy Spanish settlements around Lake Maracaibo on the coast of Venezuela. Finally, in August 1670 with 36 ships and nearly 2,000 buccaneers, he set out to capture Panama, one of the chief cities of Spain’s American empire. Crossing the Isthmus of Panama, he defeated a large Spanish force and entered the city, which burned to the ground while his men were looting it. These were the real pirates of the Caribbean sacking towns, cities and harassing shipping of all foreign nations for loot and plunder!
Because Morgan’s raid on Panama; had taken place after the conclusion of a peace between England and Spain, he was arrested and transported to London (April 1672). Nevertheless, relations with Spain quickly deteriorated, and in 1674 King Charles II knighted Morgan and sent him out again as deputy governor of Jamaica, where he lived as a wealthy and respected planter until his death. The event is set just before his return to Jamaica in 1674.
Now if children- and adults of all ages- don’t enjoy that, the spirit of adventure is lost!