From Rosslare to Pembroke – Wales
DAY 13 – From Rosslare, we crossed by ferry to Pembroke and travelled through the Welsh countryside – destination Cardiff Castle. Cardiff was first occupied by the Romans who built a fort here in AD75. Little is known of its post-Roman history until Robert FitzHamon was given land here in 1093.
FitzHamon was a knight in the service of William the Conqueror and he built the first Norman fort here. The Clock Tower was built on the foundations of a Roman bastion at the South West angle of the medieval curtain wall. The faces of the clock are flanked by statues representing the principal planets with their respective zodiac on the pedestals and the bell is a half-scale model of the one in Victoria Tower, Westminster. Built during the period 1869-1873, the Clock Tower rises to a height of 40m and consists of seven stories. Additions made in the 13th and 14th centuries included a gatehouse with a stone staircase leading to the stone bridge, which in turn replaced the timber drawbridge across the moat. After the Norman period, the castle passed through the hands of several powerful families over the next 700 years. It landed in the hands of John Stuart, son of the Earl of Bute in 1766. Stuart’s great-grandson, the Third Marquess of Bute, employed William Burges to create a mansion.
William Burges was an eccentric architect and between 1867 and 1881, he designed this ornate mansion, rich in details. Lord Bute called in distinguished local historians and he assisted with tracing the history of the Castle. He also set up the Bute Workshops and employed the finest Welsh craftsmen to work on the castle.
A visit inside the castle is most worthwhile and you’ll get to see the amazing and elaborate decoration of Lord Bute’s bedroom, dining & smoking rooms and library. Unfortunately, photography is not permitted within the castle rooms so we’re not able to share the visual treat with you. There is also a secret passage to get out of the castle.
When Burges died in 1881, his work was continued by his former assistant William Frame. It was William Frame who added this array of animals to the west wall of the castle. These animals were added between 1885 and 1930.
Cardiff castle was a great place to visit and it’s a shame that we do not have the internal photographs to share with you.