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History of the House and Caerleon


About Pendragon House

Pendragon House B&B is a very special and distinctive Georgian Grade II listed house which boasts many original Georgian architectural features. In our hall way have a trap door which hides a medieval cobbled street which was built on top of the Roman road. Just two feet below floor level are the drains from the nearby Roman baths which runs right through the centre house.

Our blue plaque which recalls that the house was home to Basque children at the outset of the Second World War
Our blue plaque and four of the Basque children who made Caerleon their home during the War

In May 1937, 30 Basque children and their guardian Mrs Fernandez fled Spain to escape the Spanish Civil War and came to live in Cambria House in Caerleon. From November 1939 to the end of the Second World War they moved to Pendragon House.  Mrs Fernandez did not return to Spain after the war, but stayed in Caerleon. In fact she made Pendragon House her permanent home! Caerleon obviously suited her, as she lived to the age of 97. The children she had cared for did not forget her; she continued to receive correspondence from them right up to her death in January 2001.

About Caerleon

The name Caerleon means Fort of the Legion in Welsh but in Roman times it was known as Isca. Before the Romans came the area was inhabited by the Silures, an ancient British tribe who built the hill fort at Lodge Hill.

The Romans

The Romans recognised the strategic significance of Caerleon’s position alongside the River Usk, and established a military base here for the 2nd Augustan Legion in 75AD. The river has the second highest rise and fall in the world which meant that whilst seagoing ships could bring supplies to Caerleon at high tide the river was still fordable at low tide.

The Romans stayed for around three hundred years and the fortress housed up to 6,000 soldiers. Many Roman remains can still be seen. These include an amphitheatre, barracks and a bath house. The story of the Roman occupation and many important artefacts can be found at the Museum in High Street.

King Arthur

There are many myths and legends involving Caerleon from the dark ages which followed the Roman withdrawal from Britain at the end of the fourth century AD. It is likely that British Chieftains would have used the fortress left behind by the Romans in their defence against the invading Saxons and it was believed that the amphitheatre may have been the setting for King Arthur’s round table.

Arthur Machen and Tennyson

Arthur Machen was a Welsh author of the 1890s and a friend of Oscar Wilde.
Machen was born Arthur Llewelyn Jones in Caerleon. The house of his birth, opposite the Olde Bull Inn in The Square at Caerleon, is adjacent to the Priory Hotel and is today marked with a commemorative blue plaque.

The beautiful landscape of Gwent, with its associations of Celtic, Roman, and medieval history, made a powerful impression on him, and his love of it is at the heart of many of his works. He is best known for his influential supernatural, fantasy, and horror fiction. His novella "The Great God Pan" has garnered a reputation as a classic of horror. Stephen King has called it "Maybe the best horror story in the English language”.

Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote Idylls of the King while staying in Caerleon and there is a window seat overlooking the river Usk dedicated to him (called Tennyson’s window) at The Hanbury pub.


There are guide books and maps for the local area in the dining room.  Please feel free to take these out with you, but please remember to return them at the end of your stay.

Please click here to download the new Caerleon guide book.The new Caerleon guide book.