So on our first day in Cardiff, after we dropped our bags off at our hotel, we made our way using google maps to the wonderful castle.
We were travelling from the Park Plaza Hotel and passed The Hilton. Our first view was of the castle walls, and boy were they big!
The enterance to the castle was quite intimidating. I could imagine those back in the mid 1800’s travelling through it and feeling awed.
For a castle that was sieged, it isn’t in ruins as much as you would think, the mansion especially. The architexture of the ceilings and the walls were spectacular!
The castle itself is impressive, with its 5 hectares of grounds steeped in history. Over the centuries, its walls have been witness to both battles and sieges. The clock tower, the ramparts and towers, and the animal-filled parks, are all delightful features.
The mansion, built in 1766, was the family residence of the marquesses of Bute. Inside, visitors can explore its lavish décor, grand staircases and ornately decorated rooms. The Mansion also includes the World War I exhibit, where memorabilia and uniforms of the conflict take you back in time.
The grounds of Cardiff castle and mansion are great places to explore and discover the history of this magnificent place. You can wander around the castle and the mansion and take in the sights.
The Roman Fort
The very first Roman fort was probably established at the end of the 50s AD, maybe the intention was to help subdue the local tribe’s people, who were known as the Silures. These tribes were a big problem to the romans! Archaeological excavations have indicated that a series of four forts, each a different size, occupied the present site at different times. The final fort was built in stone and impressive remains of these Roman walls can still be seen.
How did the fort influence the land?
After the fall of the Roman Empire the fort may well have been abandoned, although the settlement outside remained and likely took its name from Caer-Taff, meaning fort on the Taff.
The noble Bute family
In 1766 the castle was passed through marriage to the Bute Family.
John Crichton-Stuart, was the 2nd Marcquess of Bute and he was an aristocrat and industrialist in Georgian and early Victorian Britain. He was responsible for developing the coal and iron industries across South Wales and built the Cardiff Docks.
The 3rd Marcquess of Bute, John inherited his father’s fortune including the castle. He had an annual income in excess of £150,00 around £15 million in contemporary currency! In the 1860’s he was known to be the richest man in the world.
“In 1866 the 3rd Marquess began a collaboration with the genius architect, William Burges that would transform the Castle. Within gothic towers he created lavish and opulent interiors, rich with murals, stained glass, marble, gilding and elaborate wood carvings. Each room has its own special theme, including Mediterranean gardens and Italian and Arabian decoration. Despite both dying at relatively young ages, much of the work continued and many of their unfinished projects would be completed by the 4th Marquess.” From the official Cardiff Castle website.
A refuge for the city
The castle was used in its last defensive role through the years of 1939 – 1945. Air raid shelters were built in the castle’s walls and protected 2000 residents from the Nazi’s Luftwaffe. They were protected by the many layers of masonry and earth banks.
When the 4thy Marquess of Bute died, the castle was given to the city, and the National college of music and drama used this as their home for 25 years. Since 1974, the castle and parklands have become a popular visitor attraction!
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