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Exploring History in a Welsh Castle Crawl



 

The night before we left for Wales, Jack, our daughter Zoe and I went to see “Pride,” a movie based on a true story and filmed in London and Wales.

In one scene, a group of Londoners are taken by Welsh friends to see a large castle perched atop a high hill. The climb up looked daunting — the kind of trek I wouldn’t want to make. However, with Zoe doing the driving, we did plan to visit a number of castles. Wales boasts 641 former royal residences — more per capita than any other country. And so, we began our journey to see the amazing sights of Wales.

Cardiff … The site of Cardiff Castle was originally a first-century Roman fort. The castle we see today was built after the Norman Conquest. Small by more contemporary castle standards, it is a classic motte and bailey structure – a stone fortification topped with crenellations sitting on an earthen mound. An enclosing wall surrounds a large area around the castle.


In medieval times, an extensive manor house was built into the west wall. In the late 1800s, the third Marquess of Bute had the manor house renovated into a Victorian interpretation of a medieval Gothic fantasy manor. Complete with a two-story banqueting hall, the manor was the site of a grand banquet for the 2014 NATO Summit with a guest list that included President Obama.
 

 The actual Cardiff Castle is a small, 11th century motte (hill) and bailey (enclosure) design


Each room of the manor has a different theme and is elaborately decorated with murals, carvings and painted tiles. Sixty kinds of marble decorate one of the bathrooms. Atop a tower is a Roman peristyle garden with mosaics worthy of the wealthiest Roman. The most flamboyant room is the Arab Room, whose stacked honeycomb-style ceiling is covered with 22 karat gold.

… And Vicinity A true do-not-miss attraction just west of Cardiff is the National History Museum at St. Fagans. This living history complex covers 100 acres and features over 40 re-sited, restored and furnished historic structures spanning several centuries from all parts of the country. The Kennixton Farmhouse was originally built in 1610. Painted bright red to ward off evil spirits, it’s one of the most colorful structures, which range from a circular pig sty (1800) and 1916 Workmen’s Institute to a terrace of ironworkers’ houses.

One of the few structures original to the site is St. Fagan’s Castle. This 1580 manor house isn’t a castle – just built on the ruins of one. The period of the décor is late-1800s/early 1900s from when it was owned by the Windsor family. Old photographs helped recreate the furnishings in some of the rooms, and some of the pieces are original to the family. The castle gardens include glass houses where much of the estate’s food was grown and a variety of formal flower gardens. The Italian Garden was laid out in 1902 with terraces, flagstone paths and a water feature.
 

The décor of Castle Coch is characterized by elaborate painting and sculpture.


A short distance from St. Fagans, Castell Coch is another castle which belonged to the third Marquess of Bute – then described as the richest man in the world. Incorporating the ruins of a 13th century castle, he had another fantasy castle built – like Cardiff Castle, lavishly furnished and appointed. Perched on a high hillside, the castle is certainly scenic, and provided a great location for a “Doctor Who” episode in which it represented a Venetian palazzo.

Carreg Cennan The sky was overcast when we left Cardiff on our way to Aberystwyth on the west coast. We planned a stop at Carreg Cennan Castle about an hour and a half northwest of Cardiff in the far west part of Brecon Beacons National Park. The roads became more narrow and the terrain more hilly as we approached the turn-off. The day had turned chilly and it had started to drizzle. We walked through a gate and into a farmyard. In the distance, up the hill we could see the ruined castle. It was the castle from “Pride!”
 

One of the finest examples of an Elizabethan manor house, St. Fagans Castle was built in the 16th century.


Zoe, who loves ruins, was excited. I was already cold and wet. I turned the camera over to her and headed inside for warmth and hot cocoa. Undeterred by the weather, she climbed the hill and explored the remnant of the 13th century fortress, dubbed “Wales’ most romantic ruin.”

In retrospect, I regret being a sissy, but at the time, comfort trumped curiosity. Jack and I did enjoy visiting with Margaret and Bernard Llewellyn and hearing the story of Margaret’s father, who bought Castell Farm and accidentally wound up with the castle, too. The Llewellyns have built a nice visitor center with a good restaurant, and raise heritage sheep and cattle on the farm.

Aberystwyth Little is left of the castle at Aberystwyth, but as a seaside holiday town, university site and the location of the National Library, it is definitely worth a visit. One of the highlights of our trip was the 12-mile Vale of Rheidol Railway excursion from Aberystwyth to Devil’s Bridge. The narrow gauge route takes visitors 666 feet up the hillside above the Rheidol River valley. A stop at the top gives guests time to enjoy hikes into the gorge with views of waterfalls and a historic triple-bridge. The bottom bridge dates back to medieval times; another bridge was built on top of it in the 1700s while the present bridge crowned the construction in 1901.

This is just the first leg of our trip: Next month we’ll explore northern Wales and more castles! 
 

University town, administrative center and holiday destination, Aberystwyth faces the Irish Sea.


Cost was a definite consideration in planning this vacation. Most hotels and B&Bs are set up for two guests per room — and we were three. Airbnb was a life-and-money-saver. Sometimes our accommodations were in private homes; in several instances we had an entire house. Accommodations range from single rooms to castles, so the sky and your budget are the limit. For more information: airbnb.com



 

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July 2017

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Where:
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View map »


Telephone: 405.307.9320
Website »

More information

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Where:
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More information

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Telephone: 405.235.4458
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More information

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Cost: $10-12

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View map »


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Come out to the 2017 Youth Nationals on July 22 - 29 in OKC at the State Fair Park for 8 days of exciting horse show classes. Enjoy world-class shopping, delicious food vendors, a stick horse...

Cost: Free

Where:
State Fair Park
3001 General Pershing Blvd
Oklahoma City, OK  73107
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Sponsor: Arabian Horse Association
Telephone: 303.696.4500
Website »

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Week 9 | July 24-28 | Vik Muniz Brazilian photographer Vik Muniz creates complex collages from materials such as toy soldiers, trash and vintage postcards to recreate iconic artworks, scenes and...

Cost: $100-$215

Where:
Oklahoma Contemporary
3000 General Pershing Blvd
Oklahoma City, OK  73107
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Sponsor: Oklahoma Contemporary
Telephone: 405.951.0000
Contact Name: Lori Brooks
Website »

More information

This summer, Oklahoma Contemporary is kicking off Showroom|Showcase, a series of installations by local artists in the Showroom, located at 11th and Broadway. Our first featured artist is Rachel...

Cost: Free

Where:
Oklahoma Contemporary's Showroom
1146 N. Broadway
Oklahoma City, OK  73103
View map »


Sponsor: Oklahoma Contemporary
Telephone: 405.604.0042
Contact Name: Lori Brooks
Website »

More information

Expand your skills and explore your creativity this summer. Enrollment is open for our four- and eight-week classes designed for artists at any level. Under the guidance of experienced instructors,...

Cost: $75-$160

Where:
Oklahoma Contemporary
3000 General Pershing Blvd
Oklahoma City, OK  73107
View map »


Sponsor: Oklahoma Contemporary
Telephone: 405.951.0000
Contact Name: Lori Brooks
Website »

More information

Oklahoma Contemporary’s second edition of Guerrilla Art Park features six Oklahoma artists, ranging from emerging to well established. This year, many of the artists chose to focus on the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Oklahoma Contemporary's Showroom
1146 N. Broadway
Oklahoma City, OK  73103
View map »


Sponsor: Oklahoma Contemporary
Telephone: 405.604.0042
Contact Name: Lori Brooks
Website »

More information

The CODED_COUTURE exhibition looks at the intersection of fashion and technology. Couture clothes are manufactured to a customer’s specific requirements. CODED_COUTURE offers a new definition...

Cost: Free

Where:
Oklahoma Contemporary
3000 General Pershing Blvd
Oklahoma City, OK  73107
View map »


Sponsor: Oklahoma Contemporary
Telephone: 405.951.0000
Contact Name: Lori Brooks
Website »

More information

 Join Oklahoma River Cruises for a night of Hawaiian themed tunes and beautiful views, enough to make even Don Ho jealous! View the evening ferry schedule online for evening departure...

Cost: $6-15

Where:
All OK River Cruise Landings
Oklahoma City, OK  73109


Telephone: 405.702.7755
Website »

More information

Join OKC Improv at the Paramount Theater for a night of live, interactive, unpredictable comedy! 7:30 - Get Off My Lawn/High Noon Sirens/KHALC. 9:30 - Friends W/Benefits/Hat Trick/The Artful...

Cost: $10 for one show, $15 for both

Where:
The Paramount Theatre
11 N Lee
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Website »

More information

Fresh from his critically acclaimed sold-out production in Washington, D.C., Signature Theatre’s Matthew Gardiner will guest-direct this classic American musical with new energy and...

Cost: $30-90 (military and child discounts available)

Where:
Oklahoma City Civic Center Music Hall
201 N Walker Ave
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Sponsor: Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma
Telephone: 405.524.9312
Contact Name: Cynthia Bedford
Website »

More information

Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic presents an overview of the artist’s career including around sixty of his oil paintings, stained glass and sculpture. The exhibition...

Cost: $10-12

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Drive
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: 405.236.3100
Contact Name: Becky Weintz
Website »

More information

A slice of American (and Oklahoman) history retakes the spotlight in this exhibition of works created under the New Deal's Federal Art Project.

Where:
OKC Museum of Art
415 Couch
OKC, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: 405.236.3100
Website »

More information

A joint exhibition of Western portraiture and iconography from Oklahoma Hall of Fame artists Mike Larsen and Harold T. Holden.

Where:
OK Hall of Fame Museum
1400 N Classen
OKC, OK  73106
View map »


Telephone: 405.235.4458
Website »

More information

Enjoy light snacks, a cash bar and the splendor of the sky on a Sunset Cruise. Boarding at 7:45 p.m. in July.

Cost: $35

Where:
Exchange Landing
1503 Exchange Avenue
SW, over the bridge from Farmer's Market
Oklahoma City, OK  73109
View map »


Telephone: 405.702.7755
Website »

More information

The OKC Museum of Art screens overlooked treasures and unsung independent films.

Where:
OKC Museum of Art
415 Couch
OKC, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: 405.236.3100
Website »

More information

Politically charged and unapologetically feminist, this shows harnesses the talents of dozens of local women creators, with proceeds benefiting OKC Artists for Justice.

Where:
Current Studio
1218 N Penn
OKC, OK  73107
View map »


Telephone: 673.1218
Website »

More information

The OKC Museum of Art screens overlooked treasures and unsung independent films.

Where:
OKC Museum of Art
415 Couch
OKC, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: 405.236.3100
Website »

More information

Oklahoma Children's Theatre junior thespians tackle the tale of wonder and whimsy and good times for all, with a stripe-chapeaued cat orchestrating it all.

Where:
OCU Children's Center for the Arts
2501 N Blackwelder
OKC, OK  73106
View map »


Telephone: 405.951.0011
Website »

More information

A suite of new works by local artist Dr. Jim Cobb fills the newly renovated and restored Depot in this colorful exhibition.

Where:
Santa Fe Depot
200 S Jones
Norman, OK  73069
View map »


Telephone: 405.307.9320
Website »

More information

Do you hear the people sing? And by the people, we mean Upstage Theater, who are presenting this stirring tale of love, redemption and revolution.

Where:
Mitch Park
1501 W Covell
Edmond, OK  73003
View map »


Telephone: 405.285.5803
Website »

More information

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Come out to the 2017 Youth Nationals on July 22 - 29 in OKC at the State Fair Park for 8 days of exciting horse show classes. Enjoy world-class shopping, delicious food vendors, a stick horse...

Cost: Free

Where:
State Fair Park
3001 General Pershing Blvd
Oklahoma City, OK  73107
View map »


Sponsor: Arabian Horse Association
Telephone: 303.696.4500
Website »

More information

Grab a snack, find a seat and let your imagination run wild! Each weekend in July, we’ll look at timeless truths from Hollywood blockbusters. At every service, you can expect a...

Cost: Free

Where:
Life.Church
7800 S. Walker
Oklahoma City, OK  73139
View map »


Sponsor: Life.Church
Telephone: 405.216.5433
Contact Name: Rachel Key
Website »

More information

This summer, Oklahoma Contemporary is kicking off Showroom|Showcase, a series of installations by local artists in the Showroom, located at 11th and Broadway. Our first featured artist is Rachel...

Cost: Free

Where:
Oklahoma Contemporary's Showroom
1146 N. Broadway
Oklahoma City, OK  73103
View map »


Sponsor: Oklahoma Contemporary
Telephone: 405.604.0042
Contact Name: Lori Brooks
Website »

More information

Expand your skills and explore your creativity this summer. Enrollment is open for our four- and eight-week classes designed for artists at any level. Under the guidance of experienced instructors,...

Cost: $75-$160

Where:
Oklahoma Contemporary
3000 General Pershing Blvd
Oklahoma City, OK  73107
View map »


Sponsor: Oklahoma Contemporary
Telephone: 405.951.0000
Contact Name: Lori Brooks
Website »

More information

Learn how to make your own 3D book sculpture with artist Kelly Campbell Berry in this full-day workshop - participants will learn the basics of creating book art by choosing the "right"...

Cost: $65

Where:
[Artspace] at Untitled
1 NE 3rd
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Sponsor: [Artspace] at Untitled
Telephone: 405.815.9995
Contact Name: Holly Hodge
Website »

More information

Departs Exchange Landing | Saturdays (May  – August) | 11:40 am Experience history as you never have before. Colorful Oklahoma characters will reenact history through the eyes of...

Cost: $6-15

Where:
Exchange Landing
1503 Exchange Avenue
SW, over the bridge from Farmer's Market
Oklahoma City, OK  73109
View map »


Telephone: 405.702.7755
Website »

More information

Oklahoma Contemporary’s second edition of Guerrilla Art Park features six Oklahoma artists, ranging from emerging to well established. This year, many of the artists chose to focus on the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Oklahoma Contemporary's Showroom
1146 N. Broadway
Oklahoma City, OK  73103
View map »


Sponsor: Oklahoma Contemporary
Telephone: 405.604.0042
Contact Name: Lori Brooks
Website »

More information

Scratch Art Stained Glass Windows, Saturday, July 1, 1- 4 pm Floral Collages, Saturday, July 8, 1-4 pm Fashionable Footwear, Saturday, July 15, 1-4 pm Watercolor Block Prints, Saturday,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Drive
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Sponsor: Oklahoma City Museum of Art
Telephone: 405.236.3100
Contact Name: Becky Weintz
Website »

More information

Saturday cartoons aren’t just for the children anymore. Share the classics with your crew every Saturday on an Oklahoma River Cruise. Kids 6 and under ride free.

Cost: $15 (free for kids 6 and under)

Where:
Exchange Landing
1503 Exchange Avenue
Oklahoma City, OK  73109
View map »


Telephone: 405.702.7755
Website »

More information

The CODED_COUTURE exhibition looks at the intersection of fashion and technology. Couture clothes are manufactured to a customer’s specific requirements. CODED_COUTURE offers a new definition...

Cost: Free

Where:
Oklahoma Contemporary
3000 General Pershing Blvd
Oklahoma City, OK  73107
View map »


Sponsor: Oklahoma Contemporary
Telephone: 405.951.0000
Contact Name: Lori Brooks
Website »

More information

Fresh from his critically acclaimed sold-out production in Washington, D.C., Signature Theatre’s Matthew Gardiner will guest-direct this classic American musical with new energy and...

Cost: $30-90 (military and child discounts available)

Where:
Oklahoma City Civic Center Music Hall
201 N Walker Ave
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Sponsor: Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma
Telephone: 405.524.9312
Contact Name: Cynthia Bedford
Website »

More information

 Join Oklahoma River Cruises for a night of Hawaiian themed tunes and beautiful views, enough to make even Don Ho jealous! View the evening ferry schedule online for evening departure...

Cost: $6-15

Where:
All OK River Cruise Landings
Oklahoma City, OK  73109


Telephone: 405.702.7755
Website »

More information

Join OKC Improv at the Paramount Theater for a night of live, interactive, unpredictable comedy! 7:30 - After Hours/What's Happening/Horse Feathers 9:30 - Partners in Time/Red State, Blue...

Cost: $10 for one, 15 for both

Where:
The Paramount Theatre
11 N Lee
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Website »

More information

Fresh from his critically acclaimed sold-out production in Washington, D.C., Signature Theatre’s Matthew Gardiner will guest-direct this classic American musical with new energy and...

Cost: $30-90 (military and child discounts available)

Where:
Oklahoma City Civic Center Music Hall
201 N Walker Ave
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Sponsor: Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma
Telephone: 405.524.9312
Contact Name: Cynthia Bedford
Website »

More information

Jade Castle is a singer-songwriter from OKC and recently graduated from the Academy of Contemporary Music with her bachelor's degree in vocal performance. Jade started performing on stage at...

Cost: Free

Where:
Noir bistro & Bar
701 W Sheridan
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: 405.637.9389
Contact Name: George Adams
Website »

More information

Oklahoma Children's Theatre junior thespians tackle the tale of wonder and whimsy and good times for all, with a stripe-chapeaued cat orchestrating it all.

Where:
OCU Children's Center for the Arts
2501 N Blackwelder
OKC, OK  73106
View map »


Telephone: 405.951.0011
Website »

More information

Do you hear the people sing? And by the people, we mean Upstage Theater, who are presenting this stirring tale of love, redemption and revolution.

Where:
Mitch Park
1501 W Covell
Edmond, OK  73003
View map »


Telephone: 405.285.5803
Website »

More information

Play ball! OKC's warriors of the diamond get set to host Tacoma.

Where:
Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark
2 S Mickey Mantle
OKC, OK  73104
View map »


Telephone: 405.218.1000
Website »

More information

A trip to the amusement park becomes even more tempting with a fun-filled set from the '70s superstars.

Where:
Frontier City
11501 N I-35 Service
OKC, OK  73131
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2140
Website »

More information

Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic presents an overview of the artist’s career including around sixty of his oil paintings, stained glass and sculpture. The exhibition...

Cost: $10-12

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Drive
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: 405.236.3100
Contact Name: Becky Weintz
Website »

More information

A slice of American (and Oklahoman) history retakes the spotlight in this exhibition of works created under the New Deal's Federal Art Project.

Where:
OKC Museum of Art
415 Couch
OKC, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: 405.236.3100
Website »

More information

Terrible monsters, heroic critters and tons of glimpses into history fill this exhibit honoring the life of pioneering titan of stop-motion animation and special effects Ray Harryhausen.

Where:
Science Museum Oklahoma
2020 Remington
OKC, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.602.6664
Website »

More information

A joint exhibition of Western portraiture and iconography from Oklahoma Hall of Fame artists Mike Larsen and Harold T. Holden.

Where:
OK Hall of Fame Museum
1400 N Classen
OKC, OK  73106
View map »


Telephone: 405.235.4458
Website »

More information

Politically charged and unapologetically feminist, this shows harnesses the talents of dozens of local women creators, with proceeds benefiting OKC Artists for Justice.

Where:
Current Studio
1218 N Penn
OKC, OK  73107
View map »


Telephone: 673.1218
Website »

More information

It's not whether you win or lose at the casino-style games fueling this fundraiser, it's the fun you have and the knowledge that you're helping the ailing kids of Make-a-Wish Oklahoma.

Where:
Cox Center
1 Myriad Gardens
OKC, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: 405.286.4000
Website »

More information

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