Thursday, September 8, 2016

Castell Coch - William Burges' Medieval Fantasy in Stone

Perched on the Beech covered slopes of the Fforest Fawr, the towers of Castell Coch rise above the trees, seeming too fantastic to be real, a mirage in stone.

In a sense they are. This perfectly preserved Medieval castle, a time traveler displaced from the 13th century into our time, is actually a Victorian recreation, an attempt to be historically accurate to every last detail.

Now that's a doorbell to be proud of!
Castell Coch owes its reincarnation to the combined talents of two remarkable men, John Crichton-Stuart, 3rd Marquess of Bute, and the architect William Burges. Both men were hugely intelligent, each in their own way. The Marquess of Bute, one of the richest men in the world and the skillful owner-manager of a vast coal empire, spoke 20 languages and Burges had perhaps the deepest understanding of historical construction methods of his generation. Their mutual interest in all things Medieval combined with the Marquess' deep purse made nearly all things possible.

The sober and powerful exterior of the castle gives way to an interior of indescribable fantasy, with every surface painted, sculpted, gilded and tiled. The walls and ceilings are covered with imagery from fairy tales, fables, and biblical allegories. Time, the seasons, the Zodiac, the temperaments, monkeys, mice, hedgehogs, and butterflies all find their place.