South Wales - Castles & Gardens
Cardiff Castle is a medieval castle and Victorian Gothic revival mansion, transformed from a Norman keep erected over a Roman fort. In the C18th the castle came to the Bute family, who were responsible for transforming the small town of Cardiff into a major coal exporting port. A massive rebuilding began in 1868 when the 3rd Marquess of Bute, the richest man in Britain, turned the castle into a C19th fantasy of a medieval palace. In 1947, the castle and surrounding park were gifted to the City of Cardiff by the 5th Marquess. Now a popular attraction in the heart of the city and housing a regimental museum in addition to the ruins of the old castle and the Victorian reconstruction.
West of Cardiff along the Glamorgan Heritage Coast, Ogmore was one of three castles built in the area as part of the Norman invasion of Wales. Substantial remains still stand on the south bank of the River Ewenny and the castle was in use until the C19th including as a court of justice and a prison. Newcastle Castle overlooks Bridgend town centre and, to the north-east, Coity Castle was partly rebuilt following the siege by Owain Glyndwr in 1404-05. It was abandoned around the C17th and the ruins are now in the care of Cadw.
These C19th gardens boast a host of varied features including an historic castle, tower, a chapel, bluebell wood, bog garden, lake, waterfall and Italian and Japanese bridges. Located between Swansea and Mumbles, Clyne has a fine collection of trees and shrubs, with one of the most impressive displays of rhododendrons in Wales.
Singleton Botanic Gardens
Singleton covers 100 acres of parkland and 5 acres of more formal gardens just to the west of Swansea city centre. There are several glasshouses representing a variety of different climates from around the world - Desert House, Tropical House and Economics glasshouse. The gardens are probably at their most stunning in August but there is something to see all year round.
Set in 850 acres of parkland, Margam Park dates from the C19th. The exceptionally interesting features of the grounds include a Georgian Orangery, Tudor and monastic gardens, conservatories and glasshouses and a 1920s restored Japanese garden.