Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Inside Cardiff Castle

Exterior of the house

My day at Cardiff Castle.  
Discovering William Burges. 

The Tower - with Burges' decorations.

Exterior details 
The Winter Smoking Room - the blue figure is Dusk

As readers will probably have gathered by now - I have a bit of a thing for Gothic style art and architecture - so the chance to spend a day finding out  more about William Burges and Victorian Gothic, as part of a study day with Matthew Williams, the curator of Cardiff Castle, was too good to miss. Burges was a genius/eccentric, who believed that an architect's brief extended to the inside of a house - decorations, furnishings, windows - as much as the outside. He was also very expensive - so his involvement with the Third Marquis of Bute - who shared his taste and had the money to indulge it, was one of those serendipitous events that sometimes occur in history.

'Wednesday' window
The day was labelled 'Research' in my diary. I leaned a lot, some of which is supposed to find its way into a book. Eventually. At the moment, the emphasis is on 'eventually'. Although I do have an updated picture in my mind, of a painting, which will be a significant part of this projected book, which now features some rather distinctive wall hangings ...

I had a lovely day. The lectures, the conversations with other enthusiasts and the food, provided by the castle cafe, were excellent. After the lectures Matthew took us on a quick tour, and I was able to snap some interior shots of the Winter Smoking Room. As you can see, Burges' decorative style is  ... distinctive. You might say hectic. The theme of the room is Time - the days of the week, the seasons, the phases of the day. It has all the accessories of a lads' retreat, including storage for cigars and various alcoholic beverages, in specially designed furniture.

The mantle over the chimney - winter pastimes. 
We also had the chance to look at some of Burges' original drawings for the decorative work - many are not simply sketches but full blown watercolours that are works of art in themselves. As watercolours feature in my ideas for this projected book, they were particularly interesting.

This is only a brief glimpse, but it give you a flavour of the Castle. It's an amazing place.


  1. Wow, that's beautiful! Hope you made plenty of notes to accompany the pictures - I'm sure they'll 'come in' one day. What a wonderful way to do research!

  2. Hi Jane
    It is an amazing place - I love it, but some I people don't - it's very much a matter of taste. The rooms are overwhelming - painted walls, stained glass, furniture, textiles. And the nursery is something else ...

  3. Hi Rachel
    I'm hoping to find out more about the castle - they have an autumn programme of evening lectures - then it has to go in a book!