Welcome to the virtual tour of Castell Coch
View the many rooms of Castell Coch by simply clicking on one of the photographs below. Click and drag your mouse to rotate through 360 degrees.
Opening times and contact details for the castle
can be found here.
Castell Coch - Drawing Room
The Victorian fantasy castle we see today hides the complex history of Castell Coch fortresses at the head of the Taff gorge, the earliest of which was probably Norman - and wooden. This was followed by the stone edifice of the Clare family which is believed to have fallen into disuse after the damage it suffered during the early 14th century Welsh rebellion.
Not until 1875 were the old ruins transformed by the architect William Burges and John Patrick Crichton-Stuart, the third marquess of Bute (a man made fantastically wealthy by the industrial growth in South Wales in the period). The pair had already collaborated on Cardiff Castle and these two buildings represent some of the finest examples of Victorian medievalism in the UK. Lord Bute, an obsessive antiquarian, was reputed to be the richest man in the world, whilst Burges used his knowledge of the great castles of Europe as well as of medieval manuscripts to influence their designs. Sadly, Burges died in 1881, ten years before Castell Coch's completion and with Lord Bute's death in 1900, the castle spent most of the subsequent years as an occasional summer residence until being handed over to the Ministry of Works in 1950 for its conservation. It is now cared for by CADW which has managed to return many of its original pieces of furniture and replicate period fabric to maintain Castell Coch's 1891 appearance. <
Castell Coch - Banqueting Hall
The banqueting hall is the only principal room in the castle that was essentially complete in Burges's lifetime and the decoration and furniture reflect the Gothic Revival style with which he was most familiar.
Castell Coch - Lady Bute's Bedroom
Although not completed until ten years after Burges's death, this magnificent room and furnishings follow his original concept. The spectacular two-stage gold and mirrored dome has a far more Moorish look than the rest of the castle and even contrasts with the Arts and Crafts feel of the walls below it. The oriental influence on Burges's work can also be witnessed in the Arab Room of Cardiff Castle so it seems unlikely that he chose the design for the lower walls of Lady Bute's bedchamber.
This room too has a spectacular bed, copied from a medieval design but with the addition of crystal balls. In tandem with the armoire, chairs and allegorical wall paintings of birds, monkeys and pomegranates, it adds to the sense of the dominant influence being the Arabian Nights.
Castell Coch - Lady Margaret's Bedroom
The eldest of Lord Bute's children, Lady Margaret had her room above the kitchen in the Kitchen Tower. It was once open to the roof but was later modified to house a nanny in the attic. The original furniture is again based on medieval designs and painted in cream, including the unusual bed.
Castell Coch - Inner Courtyard
More akin to a set from a Wagner opera than a medieval inner ward, the courtyard is highly decorated with 19th century galleries and wall-walks - Burges's original plans being even more lavish. However, the locations of the three towers and much of the curtain wall are actually medieval, so the basic layout was preserved by the Victorians.
Off the courtyard are large stone-vaulted rooms, one now in use as the shop, and these too either survived from medieval times or were rebuilt as closely to their original form as possible. To the left of the main entrance is the Keep Tower with its octagonal ground floor room (now a tearoom) a good example of Burges's reconstruction techniques including use of wooden-clad metal beams as roof supports. The tower rooms feature staircase access to the courtyard gallery to allow servants entry to rooms such as the Banqueting Hall without using the main doorways.
Castell Coch - Lord Bute's Bedroom
This room is surprisingly austere for a millionaire marquess but perhaps matches the reclusive side of his personality. It was a late change in the design of the rebuild that moved his chamber here but one that allowed access to the fighting gallery over the gate arch as well as to another courtyard balcony with a supply winch, both features giving the occupant a sense of real control over the castle.
There is fine décor around the cornice with its small carved animals bringing a lighter touch in contrast with the restrained wall stencils but the most interesting piece of furniture is the mock-medieval copper-plated bed, held together by complex knotted ropes.
Castell Coch - The Outer Walls
A walk around the outside of Castell Coch helps to clarify its two periods of construction, as the rough, greyer, medieval stonework gives way to redder 19th century masonry. Square holes in the curtain wall may indicate where timbers were placed to support a temporary wooden fighting gallery in times of attack but perhaps the most impressive remnant of the castle's more ancient past is the massive base of the Kitchen Tower, with its walls over three metres thick.
Following the external path down below the south face gives visitors the clearest understanding of the original choice of Castell Coch's situation, located on a rock ledge and dominating the Taff Valley; it is also worth spotting the medieval arrowloops with their round bases before heading back around to the main entrance.