Printer Friendly

The castle with secrets much too good to keep; Stories dating back hundreds of years are contained within its walls - but how many of us have ever ventured inside the castle right on our own doorstep? Alison Young joined a tour to explore the magic of Cardiff Castle.

Byline: Alison Young

IT MAY have played host to royalty, a pope, pop stars and even Doctor Who, but it is the people of Cardiff to whom the castle belongs.

Dating back 2,000 years, one man who knows all about its stories and secrets is tour guide Dorian Haworth.

The 55-year-old who joined the tour guide team six years ago, after taking early retirement from the Inland Revenue, reckons he has got one of the best jobs in the world.

"It's wonderful after the hustle and bustle of Castle Street to come into the peace and quiet of the castle," said Dorian, who lives in Pentwyn with his wife Lesley.

"I've always been interested in history, especially local history, so this is the perfect job for me.

"I've shown people around from all over the world but often it is children and locals who I enjoy showing around the most.

"Every room has a story to tell, and stories within stories, and there is always more to learn about the castle and its history. Often people have lived in Cardiff all their lives but when they eventually have a look around inside they are stunned at what they find.

"They will recognise names of streets and areas of the city but wouldn't have realised that they came from families linked so strongly with Cardiff's history.

"Children are great to show around as they will always come up with questions which you haven't had before and really test your knowledge."

During Dorian's tour he explains how the Victorian alterations of the Third Marquess of Bute and the architect William Burges turned Cardiff Castle into such an outstanding example of Gothic revival architecture.

The tour starts in the winter smoking room - originally a men-only room where it is believed that substances other than nicotine may well have been indulged in.

The room which took a mere three years to complete, compared to the 15 years which it took to create the main banqueting hall, features a ceiling decorated by signs of the zodiac.

Despite acquiring much of their wealth from South Wales, the Third Marquess, his wife and their four children spent only six weeks of the year at Cardiff Castle - dividing the rest of their time at their many other homes throughout Britain and abroad.

During the mornings the children would have spent much of their time in the day nursery - a particular favourite of theirs with its fairytale tiled frieze.

Despite his vast wealth - he was dubbed the richest baby in Britain when he inherited the castle at the age of six months - the Third Marquess was known as a shy, scholarly man.

In the children's nursery a carving above the fireplace depicts a figure blowing a trumpet with a second figure with donkey's ears.

"He was showing his children that despite their vast wealth, if they blew their own trumpets they would always be thought of as donkeys," explained Dorian. These messages and stories are literally carved into the very fabric of the castle with the women's room, or Arab room to give correct title, being tongue-in-cheek to reflect a harem. it its designed "It would cost around pounds 10m to re-cr something like this room today,"explains Dorian, as he points out 22 carat was used in its ceiling. e-create xplains gold leaf "The architect William Burges was rotmad andwould oftenwalk around castle with his pet parrot on his - hence the many parrot figures room." as paround the shoulder in this Other rooms visited during the include the bedroom belonging Third Marquess which features suite bathroomwith hotandcold water and a mixer tap - 1870. tour to the an en running installed in "The bedspread isareplica and ex the same except for the fringe - the original fringe was made of gold, points out Dorian. xactly because gold," In the family's dining room a cir hole reminiscent of those used in furniture has been carved out centre of the table. circular outdoor of the asol, inthe Obviously not there for a parasol, stead Dorian explained it was for servants to placeagrape plant in for the family to enjoy at the end of the meal. or "As well as eating his grapes he would make wine from them but it wasn't of the best quality. There was a joke printed in Punch saying that it took three people to drink his wine - one to hold the bottle and two to hold the victim down," Dorian added.

The tour ends in the library where desks cleverly designed by Burges hide the central heating system.

"The desks would have cost pounds 500 each and the bookcases would have cost pounds 200 - whilst a kitchen maid working here at the time would have earned pounds 8 a year," he added.

If the public tour of the castle has whetted your appetite you can hold your very own private function at the castle by hiring out the grand banqueting hall at the cost of around pounds 500 an hour - for a minimum of three hours.

TIMELINE 55-400 AD: The Romans establish a fort and trading post in the area, and in the years that followed cemented their position at the present site.

1081-1150 AD: The Normans raise a motte and bailey castle, replacing their earlier wooden keep with a stone version.

1200-1350 AD: The Black Tower is erected and linked to the keep by a massive wall.

1400-1450 AD: The Octagon Tower and Hall Block is built by Richard Beauchamp, the Earl of Warwick.

1776-1800 AD: The First Marquess of Bute commissions Henry Holland to extend and alter the house.

1868-1930 AD: The Third Marquess of Bute and William Burges transform the castle in the Gothic Revival style, with further renovations and restorations taking place during the time of the Fourth Marquess.

1930 onwards: The Fourth Marquess, son of the Third Marquess, continued to restore the castle walls and up until 1925 oversaw the reconstruction of the Roman wall to Duke Street, as well as the building of the Barbican Tower.

* Cardiff Castle emerged largely unscathed from World War II, but two of its adjacent lodges were destroyed. * In 1947 the building was given to the people of Cardiff by the Fifth Marquess of Bute. * Today the popular tourist attraction houses a regimental museum, the castle ruins, and occasionally plays host to city concerts and festivals.

CARDIFF CASTLE Open every day except December 25, 26 and January 1. *March -October: 9am -6pm (last tour 5pm) * November - February: 9am - 5pm (last tour 4pm) The Essential Ticket * Adult pounds 8.95 * Child (5-16 years) pounds 6.35 * Senior / Student pounds 7.50 Your visit includes: * Interpretation Centre with exhibition and film show * Audio guide of castle grounds, Norman keep and battlement walk * The World War II tunnels * Entry to a selection of castle apartments Premium Tour Ticket * Adult pounds 11.95 * Child (5-16 years) pounds 8.50 * Senior / Student pounds 9.95 Your visit includes: * All elements of the Essential Ticket plus a 50-minute guided tour of additional castle apartments with an expert guide.


* Pointing out the most interesting aspects within the Banqueting Hall is tour guide Dorian Haworth; and left, Cardiff Castle PICTURES: Richard Swingler [umlaut] The stunning gold leaf ceiling in the Arab Room The Banqueting Hall provides rich design detail
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2009 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:Features
Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Oct 20, 2009
Previous Article:Pick of the day.
Next Article:CONFESSIONS of a jewellery designer.

Related Articles
Viewpoints Put him in the dungeons.
Experience the dark side of castle ruins; Family Day Out KENILWORTH CASTLE FOR a really spooky Halloween, we dare you to take a guided tour around...
WE'RE KINGS OF THE CASTLE; The secrets of working life behind the battlements.
The secret garden; gardens.
'Now I know my Romans from my Normans' Cardiff Castle's newpounds 8m attraction sorts out its history As Cardiff Castle's interpretation centre...
My wee rascals are kings of castle; Boys get a taste of history.
CASTLE'S HIDDEN GEMS; Enthusiasts treated to tour of city landmark's secret rooms and rarely-seen.
Blast from THE PAST.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2019 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters