Saturday, 19 May 2018

Old Beaupré Castle

Old Beaupré Castle is situated in the Vale of Glamorgan, in the Valley of the River Thaw near the village of St. Hilary, near Cowbridge.

Old Courtyard
Getting to Old Beaupré involves a bit of walking across some fields, but in my opinion it is well worth it. There is a small area to park at the edge of a style that leads across some fields to the building. 

old beaupre castle, welsh black cattle
 On our last visit we encountered some young Welsh Black cattle who whilst quite harmless, were very playful and were bounding around us, that unnerved my wife a little.  Fortunately, I grew up around farms and dealt with cattle and just gave a sharp clap of my hands that sent the cattle cavorting in the opposite direction leaping in the air playfully.

If you like old buildings that have a history, then the ruins of this
old beaupre castle,
little publicized old mansion house will be sure to impress with it grand Tudor-styled stonework.  To me, its a peaceful setting next to the River Thaw and a "must-visit" for tourists interesting in seeking places in Wales that are off the beaten track. Another favourite of my places to visit in Wales.

Well, a picture paints a thousand words, and I took several on my visit, so the pictures below that give a better idea of what there is to see should you choose to visit Old Beaupré  Castle on your visit to Wales.

Main Gate

Coat of Arms
River Thaw, Old Beaupre Castle

Further Posts/Articles relating to Vale of Glamorgan, Wales - see archive list in right hand column or Vale of Glamorgan Page for list of further posts in the area..  Please feel free leave comments.  

Places in Wales: Dyffryn House and Gardens.

Dyffryn House and Garden is currently a work in progress carried out by the National Trust...

The Dyffryn Estate dates back to 640 A.D. when it was then known as the Manor of Worleton. The manor, which included St Lythans and St Nicholas, was granted to Oudoceus Bishop of Llandaff in Cardiff.

In the 18th century the Dyffryn Estate was sold to Thomas Pryce, who created the first building to be known as Dyffryn House in 1749. There was no extensive work carried out on the gardens, but Pryce did construct the walled garden, and a few other features and did some ornamental planting.

It was in 1891 that a wealthy industrialist named John Cory bought Dyffryn Estate who commissioned Thomas Mawson, a well-known landscape architect who created the wonderful garden that is still enjoyed by many visitors today. Mawson was the first president of the of the Institute of Landscape Architecture (London).
 Work began around 1894 and wasn't completed until 15 years later. John Cory's died in 1910, and his third son, Reginald, had inherited the estate. A fitting choice for Dyffryn it seems as Reginald Cory was keen horticulturist and plant collector and leading member Royal Horticultural Society During the early 20th Century Reginald sponsored several expeditions hunting out plants all over the world. Many which can be seen on display at Dyffryn.

Reginald died in 1934 and his sister Florence took over the house until her death in 1937 when it was owned by Sir Cennydd Traherne who two years later leased the property to Glamorgan County Council on a 999-year lease. 1972 saw the dissolution of Glamorgan County Council. In 1995 Sir Cennydd Traherne died, and responsibility for the estate went to his nephew Councillor Rhodri Traherne who sold the freehold of Dyffryn House and Gardens to the Vale of Glamorgan.
Come forward to 2000...  Cadw, a Welsh Government historic buildings and heritage environment protection service, awarded Dyffryn a Grade I status in its register of historic landscapes, parks and gardens in Wales.
In January 2013, the National Trust took a 50-year lease over the care of Dyffryn House and Gardens from the Vale of Glamorgan Council and is currently bringing the house back to it's original grandeur which at the time of writing is currently being carried on. For more information on visiting times and enter visit their website here -

Further Posts/Articles relating to Vale of Glamorgan, Wales - see archive list in right hand column or Vale of Glamorgan Page for list of further posts in the area..  Please feel free leave comments. 

Vale of Glamorgan, South Wales

places in wales, vale of glamorgan

The Vale of Glamorgan is at the southern-most tip of South Wales and had a host of places to visit in Wales such as villages, hamlets, historical buildings and sites. The Vale runs from Penarth (nr Cardiff) in the East to Ogmore-By-Sea in the west.  At the northern boundary runs the M4 motorway that marks the border with the county of Rhondda Cynon Taff - to the west is County of Bridgend and to the east the County of Cardiff.  Running right through the centre of the Vale of Glamorgan is the A48 trunk road, that at one time was the main trunk road connecting South Wales to London -  a trip that I frequently made in my youth which back then was considered a busy, but "good" road, due to the centre lane for over-taking. But the road could be used by traffic travelling in both directions!  Needless to say, there were many bad head-on collisions but nowadays the overtaking central lane is gone and the A48 is relatively quiet, unless there is some mishap that blocks the motorway and then it becomes grid-locked!  But back to the Vale of Glamorgan.

Further Posts/Articles relating to Vale of Glamorgan, Wales, see archive list in right hand column or for convenience, use links below.  Please feel free leave comments. 

Old Beaupré Castle

Dyffryn House & Gardens.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Cardiff Castle

The history of Cardiff Castle goes back to the eleventh century. It was built on the site of a derelict Roman fort and many non-Welsh people settled there. This brought about many attacks from the surrounding villages of the native Welsh.    In 1158, Lord Ifor ap Meurig, of Sengenydd (near Caerphilly), the Norman Lord of Glamorgan, together with his Countess, lived in Cardiff Castle and was kidnapped from the castle and held for ransom, for certain 'wrongs' he had inflicted on the natives.

Jumping forward several centuries to 1865, the castle underwent an amazing transformation by an architect named William Burges. He was doing the work for the third Marquess of Bute who was a rich historian, mystic, archaeologist - well you get the idea. Burges's work can still marvelled at to this day at the castle and the style can also be seen in many buildings in Cardiff and indeed throughout the U.K.

Cardiff Castle looks like a fairy-tale creation, that could well grace the pages of the book, Sleeping Beauty. There are guided tours around the castle, and it is full of medieval and ornate decoration, that includes: the 'Chaucer Room', based on Chaucer's works; the richly decorated Arab room; the Summer Smoking Rooms decorated with emblems of the universe, to name but a few.    Peacocks inhabit the grounds and screech-like calls can be frequently heard. It is obvious that money was no object to the Marquis of Bute. Cardiff Castle is a magnificent place to visit.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Merthyr Tydfil in Wales.

Now here is one of those places to visit in Wales that is more interesting than its appears..

Iron workers Cottages, Merthyr Tydfil 1800
(rebuilt at
 St. Fagan's Museum 1987)
courtesy of

Merthyr Tydfil, a town that lies around 20 miles North of Cardiff up the A470 was once the most populous town in Wales, but was never really renowned for its beauty because it has been ravaged by every type of industry since its more modern development in the eighteenth century. However, I still feel that Merthyr is well worth a visit especially if your imagination works as mine does when visiting a place with such a unique history.

The area surrounding Merthyr Tydfil was occupied from ancient times, by a tribe known as the Silures. Now this is very interesting because these dark-skinned people were thought to have been of European origin, possibly Spanish.  I lived in northern Spain for a while, and learned to speak the language. And when my Welsh-speaking brother-in-law paid me a visit one day, we were talking about Spanish and he remarked on the strong similarity between the Spanish language and the Welsh language. So had the Silures travelled up from Spain bringing their language with them that later evolved into the Welsh Language? It's quite possible. Anyway, back to the town of Merthyr Tydfil...

Some time around 48 AD, after a lot of fierce fighting with the Silures, Merthyr was conquered by the Romans  who then being true to their reputation as Romans, built a network of roads putting the area on the map, so to speak.  However, the Brecon Beacons, that are just North of MerthyrTydfil served as a great protection to these Welsh tribes who knew it far better than any invading army who often got hopelessly lost and perished at the hands of the Welsh during surprise ambushes. Even to this day, the Brecon Beacons are known to be dangerous and unpredictable to the unprepared traveller.  However a Norman castle was established in the town of Brecon around the 12th Century in the far north corner of the Beacons, but that didn't help the Normans to suppress the Welsh either.

Another claim to fame that Merthyr has is that it was here that the first steam locomotive in the world conveyed five wagons, full or iron and steal from Merthyr Tydfil to Abercynon a journey of about 9 miles. The engine was built by 32 year-old Richard Trevithick from Cornwall and took this maiden journey in 1804. The engine had a brick chimney stack that was knocked off by a bridge but was rebuilt during that first journey! The engine didn't last much longer either, because on the return journey the entire engine totally collapsed unable to negotiate the twists and steep incline.

Merthyr Tydfil (old townhall)
picture from FreeFoto.comAdd caption

As we travel forward through time, it can be said that poor old Merthyr Tydfil was never much loved. A novel written by Anthony Trollope (1815-1882), describes how a young curate faints when he learns he is be sent to merthyr to work! Also later in the 18th century, Merthyr was described by Thomas Carlyle as "a vision of hell", when he witnessed the men toiling and sweating in the furnaces and coal pits.
Through its history up until the conflicts over the coalmines closing as recent as the 1980s, Merthyr has had its fair share of riots and back in the 1930s, it was suggested that the town be abandoned and its citizens re-housed elsewhere.

And what of the name Merthyr Tydfil itself?  

Here we get into legend again that tells of the murder of Tydfil, the daughter of Brychan, a 5th Century King of Beconshire who was murdered by a band of Irish Picts for defying them by refusing to renounce her Christianity. Merthyr being derived from the word martyr, and Tydfil the name daughter said to have died at what is now the site of the Parish Church of Merthyr Tydfil was put together to form the name Merthyr Tydfil original meaning of Tydfil the Martyr... Well... Perhaps!

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Castell Coch

There are places in Wales that are famous for their  legends and ghost stories. One such place is a fairy-tale castle near Cardiff in South Wales called, Castell Coch.

This is one of my favourite places to visit in Wales, not only because it is less than an hour's drive away from my home, but also because its fairy-tale looks really get my imagination going.

There is reputed to be not only the ghost of a woman looking for her son for all eternity, but also some form of magic that was cast way back in time,  to protect valuable treasure in secret tunnels that lay below the castle.

True or not true? Well I have tried my utmost to see the ghost to no avail, but as for going down into the secret tunnels of Castell Coch to fight off some ancient magic spell? Well maybe I would, but the ground looks pretty rocky to me.  Read more of this legend...

The story goes that a woman by the name of Dame Griffiths lost her son when he fell into a bottomless pit of water and was never seen again - how he didn't just float to the surface I have no idea, but with the ghostly unseen world who can  really know? Anyway, the Dame was so grief-stricken that when she later died, her ghost became anchored to Castell Coch looking for her son for all eternity.  She has often been seen by visitors wandering around the wooded grounds that surround the castle. But I have looked long and hard, and whilst my imagination can create a certain eerie feeling in the woods of Castell Coch, I have never seen Dame Griffiths at all.

Not long after Dame Griffiths died or left the castle - I do not know which - another lady moved in with her two servants who were man and wife.  The servants complained of hearing noises in the night, but their mistress dismissed their complaints to rats or other small wild animals entering the castle at night.

One night however, the servant husband awoke to see a figure stood at the foot of their bed. It was a cavalier whose face was ashen and grief-stricken.  According to one legend, this cavalier was grieving for a lost treasure that he had left in the secret tunnels beneath the castle, but died in battle before he could return to retrieve said treasure.  The sight of this ghost proved too traumatic for the servants so they left Castell Coch leaving their lady mistress to fend for herself.  Not long after, she felt she couldn't possibly manage without servants so she left also. Or did she see the ghost? Or was it that in those days, servants were considered a necessity?

Another slant on this story is that there was a certain Welsh soldier called Ivor Bach who used witchcraft to turn two of his men into eagles and left them to guard the hidden treasure but also never returned due to being killed in battle.

The story continues that after the lady had left Castle Coch, two local men decided to dig down into the tunnels in search of the treasure and eventually they found it with two eagles statues perched on the top.  As they approached the treasure though, the eagles sprang to life and attacked the men chasing them out of the tunnels.  Not to be thwarted by these eagles, the two men returned with guns, but their bullets had no effect on the birds who became even more aggressive and again chased them out of the tunnels. It is said that again they tried, and the same thing happened. This time they sealed the tunnels.

I think I would have given up after the first time! Statues coming to life!? I am fascinated by ghostly phenomena, but demonic indestructible eagles that had the power to inflict pain? I wouldn't go that far!
The eagles are still reputed to be in the tunnels to this day, but I wonder who is going to be brave enough to look for the tunnels or these crazed ghostly birds.

Ghosts or no ghosts, I love this little patch of my homeland, and would definitely recommend Castell Coch to be anyone's list of places in Wales to visit.

Sunday, 29 August 2010

St Fagan's Welsh Folk Museum , Cardiff.

St Fagan's Castle (built 1580)

About five miles to the west of Cardiff lies the St. Fagan's Folk Museum which is one of the largest open-air museums in Europe. If you like hearing about country life in Wales from the Iron Age to medieval times up until Second World War and up into the 1960s, then St. Fagan's can offer you over 100 acres of various attractions.

St. Fagan's museum has various historical Welsh farm houses erected in the grounds. Here, one can really see how the Welsh peasants used to live. Some of these cottages have only two rooms, one on the ground floor with beaten earth under foot, and a crude ladder leading to cramped sleeping quarters in the attic of a thatched roof.

Kennixton Farmhouse (built 1610)
These buildings have been brought to the museum stone by stone from all over Wales. Originally these types of cottages were erected very quickly, because the builder would probably be staking a claim on the land that surrounded it. It was his as far as he could throw an axe. He could keep the land providing he could build it over-night and have smoke pouring out of the chimney by daybreak. In the larger cottages, animals often lived inside with the occupants. These were usually built on a slope, so that the animal's waste products could drain away from the living quarters. Smelly or what?

Workmen's Institute (built 1916)
St Fagan's Folk Museum is one of my favourite places to visit and I consider myself very fortunate to be able to get there in around half-an-hour from where I live. I have spend many a day just strolling around, taking photos and video of this remarkable place often taking a picnic as I sit back (sometimes) in the sunshine soaking up the atmosphere.

Stores and workshops still carry on a trade within the grounds and there is no shortage of stories about the remarkable history of the buildings in there.

As blogs tend to best be short, it would be unwise of me to put too long a post here about St Fagans, but I have created this page on my website that gives more information and pictures about an amazing day that awaits anybody who wishes to visit this Welsh attraction.