Friday, 30 January 2015

Cardiff Castle's Gothic Revival- a Dream Realised

The castle stands at the lowest crossing point of the Taff, and it's this strategic position that has made the land on which the castle stands a popular place to live since the Romans invaded in 43AD. It has changed quite a bit over the years, but it's the outstanding work of the architect William Burges that make the castle so extraordinary, and such a special place to visit.
I knew nothing of the work of William Burges before the visit, I'd seen the extraordinary Animal Wall, but obviously wasn't listening in previous times when my friends commented on the wall. Although it was Burges' idea, the wall wasn't completed until 1881, some years after his death. Here's the information beside the wall:
 And a couple of examples:

From the wall, we went inside and bought tickets for the castle and a guided tour of the castle, on the way to the tour, Kathy had a look at a hen harrier and chatted to its handler:
 Below the outside of the castle:

 And the clock tower with figures not clearly visible

 And below the 12 sided moated keep, the finest example in Wales:
 And so onto the house tour where we can see the brilliance outcomes arising from the introduction of the 18 year old fabulously rich Lord Bute and the architect William Burges in 1865. They were both fascinated by the World in the Middle Ages, and traveled widely in Europe in the Near East for inspiration. Our tour began in the Winter Smoking Room:
It's hard to know what to photograph, there's so much to see, and there are something like 70 paintings of birds in the room:
This is part of an ornate piece above the fireplace:
And this part of the door into the room:
From there we went into the day nursery, described as a child's paradise, there are wall tiles painted with heroes and heroines from children's literature painted by H.W.Lonsdale to Burges' designs and made by Maw &Co:

From there onto the Batchelor Bedroom! It had an amazing array of marbles in the en suite bathroom:
Here's another view of the bathroom with its different sorts of marble:
 From there we went up to the top of the castle to the Roof Garden, decorated tiles this time by Frederick Smallfield:
 The lovely bowl below was on a sideboard somewhere:
 Exquisitely carved marquetry bird on a piece of mistletoe on a door:
 This amazing pair are beside a doorway, maybe in the magnificent Banqueting hall, recently experienced by President Obama on a recent trip over here for a Nato summit. It's possible to hire the castle for weddings and other events.
 Below, it's hard to convey the exoticism of the Arab Room:
 And having missed out lots of parts of the castle, you need to visit it and see it for yourself, we went up the tower of the keep where there was a great photo to be had of the castle:
So where did the Bute's money come from? Mostly from Welsh industry. His Father built a dock at Cardiff that eventually exported coal they mined to the rest of the world.
It's a fabulous day, and Cardiff is a short train ride away, do go and have a look at this extraordinary and beautiful result of a collaboration between William Burges and Lord Bute and their talented craftspeople.
The book 'The essential Cardiff Castle' by Matthew Williams is an invaluable guide to your visit, and helped a great deal when making sense of some of my photos.



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