Driving the freeway in South Wales near Cardiff, you catch a glimpse of a most romantic castle perched on the hillside overlooking the Taff Valley. It is Castell Coch, a dazzling architectural masterpiece of the Victorian era. Leaving the freeway you drive up a winding richly forested hill to enter the castle grounds, a fitting entry to this magnificent indulgence of the the 3rd Marquess of Bute. A very wealthy man, he was able to hire the famed high Victorian architect, William Burges to create one of the finest examples of Victorian medievalism out of the ruins of the medieval fortress at Castell Coch.
The Banqueting Hall, the Drawing Room and all of the bedrooms walls and ceilings are covered from top to bottom with wonderfully painted scenes and designs that complement each other, and the furnishings. The Drawing room is breathtaking to behold, a vaulted room in Gothic style. With a golden sunburst as its apex, the stone vaulted ribs radiate from it and create a canvas for nature’s most beautiful possessions, butterflies, birds and stars. Every balcony, beam and fireplace is a masterpiece in artistry. The bedrooms are particularly interesting for the colorful furniture and the creative conveniences. For example, Lady Bute’s washstand has two crenelated towers on either side that are lead lined to act as cisterns for hot and cold water.
Moving back to the outside the castle continues it’s exterior medieval theme with a wall walk, courtyard and gatehouse. You can also view the vaulted basement level as well as the kitchens. The castle grounds have a tearoom where you can relax after your tour and reflect on the visual feast that had just been served to you.
If you are captivated by this era in architecture and in Mr. Burges work be sure to see his other two creations for the Marquess at Cardiff Castle down the road in Cardiff and at Mount Stuart on the Isle of Bute in Scotland near Glasgow.
You can learn more about Castell Coch from the Days Out pages of the Welsh Government website.