Castell Coch, Tongwynlais

The original Castell Coch is thought to date from the 12th or 13th century.  Its name, which translates as Red Castle, comes from the hue of the local sandstone from which it was built.  Abandoned at an early date, it formed part of the estates associated with Cardiff Castle.  By the mid-19th century, only foundations remained.

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In 1871, the third Marquess of Bute commissioned William Burges to reconstruct the castle as a country residence for occasional occupation in the summer, using the medieval remains as a basis for the design.  Burges rebuilt the outside of the castle between 1875 and 1879, but died in 1881 before the interior had been finished.  This was completed by other members of his team in 1891.  The exterior is considered to be a reasonably accurate reconstruction of a medieval castle, though experts doubt the authenticity of the conical turrets.  However, the interior is a fantasy of colourful symbolism and decoration which must be seen to be appreciated.

The building is quite impractical as a living space and was little used as such.  Since 1950, Castell Coch has been in state guardianship and is currently managed by Cadw both as a popular tourist attraction and also as a venue for weddings and other events.

David Webb, Glamorgan Archives Volunteer

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