Beaumaris or Biwmares
The town of Beaumaris, on the south-eastern corner of the island, derives its name not from the Welsh, but from French via the Normans. It was known as Beau Marias, or good marsh, which was a good description of the site chosen by Edward 1 for the construction of his castle, the last of his series of castles in Wales. The location was chosen with care to guard the eastern approach into the Menai Straits. The castle was built between 1295 and 1297, but never entirely finished. Unlike other North Walian towns such as Conwy, Caernarfon and Harlech, which are dominated by their castles, Beaumaris castle is an understated low built structure. For those with knowledge of the other castles built at Caernarfon, Conwy and Harlech, Beaumaris appears on a much smaller scale, but it is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Further information on the castle can be found on our Anglesey Archaeology pages.
The seaward side of the town is dominated by the Bulkeley Hotel and Victoria Terrace, with magnificent views over the Menai Straits to the mountains of Snowdonia. The main street on the landward side is Castle Street, with the castle itself at its eastern end. Other notable buildings on Castle Street are the Old Bulls Head, built in about 1475, Tudor Rose which dates from about 1400, and the Town Hall or Neuadd y Dref which dates back to 1563.
Close to the castle is the White Lion public house, in front of which is a small square. Over summer weekends, this is often the site of street entertainment, ranging from folk music and dancing to performances by the Beaumaris Band. Close by is Canolfan Beaumaris, a small public hall with sports facilities and a small exhibition area.
On the seafront, the promenade provides stunning views over the Menai Straits, to Llanfairfechan and down as far as the Great Orme and Llandudno. There is a busy lifeboat station, and the pier is popular with tourists, whether crab fishing or angling, enjoying the scenery, or as a departure point for cruises around the nearby Puffin Island. The pier is a modest structure, some 570 feet (174 metres) in length, but its claim to fame is that it is the only pier on Anglesey.
St Mary and St Nicholas Church, Beaumaris
The Grade 1 listed church of St Mary and St Nicholas is tucked away from the main street, in Church Street. It was mainly built in the fourteenth century, not long after the castle was built, although the chancel dates from the fifteenth century. In the south porch is a sarcophagus or stone coffin of Princess Joan, daughter of King John, who died in 1237. Further information on St Mary and St Nicholas Church can be found on our Anglesey Chapels and Churches page.
Other points of interest in Beaumaris include the Courthouse and Gaol.