Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Fantasy Apartments


Lovely to see you.

I would recommend that you take a tour of the house as an additional extra to your entry ticket to Cardiff Castle as the rooms are totally spectacular and you get to see a few extra ones compared to the bog standard entry.  It's only £2.75 more and an Artfund Card does give you free entry to the Castle if not the tour.

When we finished the tour, back on the outside and looking at all the different towers, it was really difficult to decide where we'd actually been as we had swished up and down stairs and along passages!

The Castle came into the hands of the Bute family in 1776 who were industrialists and made their money from setting up coal mining in South West Wales and exporting it worldwide.  The Castle was altered many times and by 1865, the 3rd Marquess of Bute, John Crichton-Stuart engaged Architect William Burges to turn the house into bachelor apartments.  He created a Neo Gothic fantasy palace.

Anyway let's go inside and have a look.

Bearing in mind that this was just a holiday home and only used for a few weeks each year, no expense was spared, it contains the finest workmanship, bespoke furniture and fittings, hot water, heating and electric lighting from as early as 1883.

Here are our photos taken without flash so have a look at the Castle website for a few others or better still buy The Essential Cardiff Castle as there are some brilliant photos there of even more rooms that we didn't see.

The Winter Smoking Room

Ladies weren't encouraged in this room!  Then, not now.

The Day Nursery

Beautifully decorated for his children, the tiles were specially made with decoration applied before assembling the panels.  The invisible man is only just visible in the second photo.

The Banqueting Hall

So many details.  Two of the stained glass windows got mixed up after refurbishment so two of the married couples have the wrong wives.  There's lots of animal imagery too.  Weddings take place in this room at a cost of £625.  If you are thinking that's very reasonable, it's £625 per hour, minimum 4 hours.  I should think there's a waiting list too.

Lord Bute's Bedroom

The room has a biblical theme with a gilt bronze figure of St John the Evangelist dominating the chimney piece.  There are mirrors on the ceiling.  The adjoining bathroom was rather modern at the time and plumbed in to have hot water, other bedrooms needed hot water to be brought up by the maids.

The Roof Garden

Open to the elements, this beautiful roof garden was inspired by Roman discoveries at Pompeii.  The statue of the Madonna and Child is in medieval French style and is designed to be lit by the rays of the setting sun.

The Arab Room

The ceiling of the Arab Room is so spectacular, all covered in gold leaf.

The Dining Room

The family dining room is very ornate as well.  The table with the hole in is for a vine.  The table slides apart, the vine in a pot slides in and the table closes round it.  Grapes dangle on the table!  This room also has a carved howler monkey with a nut in its mouth which can be pressed to summon the maid.

The Library

Even the tiniest space in the library has the most wonderful inlay and marquetry.

The Top of the Staircase of the Octagon Tower

Only peeked at through the door.

I think that gives you an idea of what it is like but it doesn't beat standing in the rooms and taking it all in.

One room had just plain painted walls with family portraits hanging on them.  Lady Bute was glad that this was not as busy as the rest of the house.

The Fifth Marquess faced huge death duties when his father died so gave the Castle to the people of Cardiff along with the park so it could be enjoyed by all.



  1. Replies
    1. There is so much detail, you could spend ages looking around.

  2. My goodness you took us on an amazing tour, what a feast for the eyes.

  3. Fabulous! My sister's wedding reception was in the Library and the Dining Room in the 1990s and it is indeed a beautiful venue. In July I was at a family party in the rooms at the top, the Tower Rooms. The bathroom was especially beautiful, and there really was a bath in it, I should have taken photos but there was a queue of desperate people outside so I had to hurry up! You have done it justice. x

    1. Oh how wonderful, those two occasions must have been terrific. You must have some great photos and memories. x