Castell Coch was featured in Country Life magazine 61 years ago this month. Architectural writer Mark Girouard took readers on a tour of the famous Welsh landmark over two issues beginning on 10th May 1962.
The magazine was founded in 1897 and celebrated its 125th anniversary in 2022.
Girouard went on to become an authority on the country house, biographer and architectural historian. He passed away in August 2022 at the age of 90.
The 5th Marquess of Bute, John Crichton-Stuart, inherited the castle in 1947. He placed it in the care of the Ministry of Works in 1950 and the first guidebook was produced in 1954.
In 1962 the admission charge was 1 shilling (12p) for adults and 6d (6p) for children under 15.
Castell Coch, Glamorgan – II
The second instalment covers the interior of Castell Coch and explains that much of the work was completed after Burges died in 1881.
“Who did what and when at Castell Coch are questions that can be answered in some detail, for enough material is available to document most aspects of the building, though there are occasional gaps.”
Girouard explains that, “the death of Burges had both disadvantages and advantages as far as Castell Coch was concerned.”
He continues, “Burges at his most Burgean can be both indigestible and claustrophobic; one is left filled with astonishment but also exhaustion. The fact that at Castell Coch his exuberant imagination, love of jokes and decorative ingenuity come to us filtered through his assistants, makes it perhaps easier to appreciate than some of his other buildings.”
“The fact that at Castell Coch his exuberant imagination, love of jokes and decorative ingenuity come to us filtered through his assistants, makes it perhaps easier to appreciate than some of his other buildings.”
“Suspended over the octagonal room like an immense glittering starfish, or a fireworks display, with the gilded flickering rays of the sun like a Catherine-wheel in the centre, and the ribs falling down from it in lines of gold.”
Architectural historian and country house expert, Mark Girouard, was born in 1931 and worked for Country Life between 1958 and 1967.
He was a co-founder of the Victorian Society.
Mark passed away in March 2022 at the age of 90.
He wrote the award winning book, “Life in the English Country House: A Social and Architectural History” along with many other books.
The RIBA Journal’s obituary explains, “The key to the impact of these books was that Girouard wrote architectural history as if it were a story and presented it in the context of the lives of the different classes of people who lived and worked in buildings: he saw each great country house as being at the centre of a miniature state, a uniquely British phenomenon.”
For his legacy, look at the outstanding quality of writing on buildings today: there have now been two subsequent generations of Girouardians, inquisitive, excited, deeply knowledgeable but always fresh, people inspired by him to write about historic architecture and those who created it, and campaign to save its monuments.Timothy Brittain-Catlin – RIBA Journal
The Castell Coch Vineyard
The articles finishes with a few paragraphs about the vineyard at Castell Coch. This is a story I’ve researched and written about in detail.