Treasures and Tours at Chirk Castle

Arriving at Chirk Castle

Started in 1295, Chirk Castle was one of several medieval Marcher fortresses sited on the Welsh-English border to keep the Welsh under English rule. Last Thursday was a glorious spring day and ideal for a visit to this beautiful location. There’s a longish approach to the Castle from the village of Chirk. You pass the wrought iron gates commissioned  by Sir Richard Myddleton and built between 1712 and 1719. They were originally at the Castle but moved to their present location in 1888.

From the Reception Courtyard, where we booked for the first house tour at 11.15, we climbed up a short hill to the Castle itself. We took note of the gardens, admired the view and explored the Castle Courtyard whilst we waited for the Tour to begin. At 11.15 a small group of us assembled in the Cromwellian Hall where David gave us a brief history of the castle and changes brought about by various owners and architects probably the most famous being Augustus Pugin. Yes, he’s been mentioned here by Milady several times. His Neo Gothic style is particularly suited to this former fortress and it would seem that he had virtually free run with his designs at Chirk.

David in the Cromwellian Room

Picture in the Cromwellian Room made of bog oak inlaid with bone. It shows the Castle in 1735 and shows the Davies Gates in their original position.

Chirk Castle (circa 1720), from the north, by Peter Tillemans (1684-1734) also shows the gates made by Robert and John Davies

The State Dining Room was at one time decorated by Pugin but was redecorated in the neo-classical manner as it had been for Richard Myddelton, MP, in the late 1770s by Lady Margaret Myddleton

The 17th Century Saloon

The Pugin Corridor

… and a selection of his fireplaces complete with his trademark tiles :

… plus a couple of his chairs :

After our House Tour we it was time for a cup of tea and then we joined another enthusiastic volunteer, Nick, for his afternoon tour of the exterior of the Castle and an explanation of the architecture within Castle Courtyard. For example – Why are there Battlements facing into the Courtyard? Answer : Because Pugin decided it would be a good idea.

Chirk Castle Courtyard

Nick’s Architectural Tour

Chirk Castle Entrance

After another Tea Room visit it was time to see the Gardens …

Pugin’s Presbytery

St Edward’s Presbytery in Ramsgate is one of the latest properties to be added to Landmark Trust’s portfolio. It’s restoration featured in the 2015 Channel4 TV series Restoring Britain’s Landmarks.  Just before my Amsterdam trip I celebrated my birthday with a stay there. My sister joined me and we spent 4 nights relaxing by the log fire in the evenings and taking walks and making very local visits during the days. The furthest we drove was 5 miles to Margate and back.

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Monastery Music in Manchester

 

in the monastery

Earlier this year my friend Betty told me about her trip to The Monastery in Manchester. I had never heard of it but as soon as I read on the website :

Manchester’s magnificent Monastery is Pugin’s architectural masterpiece. It sits alongside the Taj Mahal and the ancient ruins of Pompeii as having been listed in the 100 most endangered sites in the world, with a rich heritage that should never be lost.Continue reading

Pugin’s Staffordshire Gems

Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin (1812 – 1852) was a prolific architect of the Victorian age. In fact he burned himself out through over work and died at the age of 41 having designed not only the exteriors but also the furnishings and fittings of  countless churches not only in England, but also in Ireland and Australia. He converted to Catholicism and most of his ornate designs are for Roman Catholic churches and cathedrals. There is a long list of his architectural achievements at the end of his Wikipedia entry here. He is most notably connected with the building of the present Palace of Westminster. Continue reading