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Blackfriars' Friary, Cardiff

Visited October 2022

Location Cardiff
Entrance Fee No
Railway Station Nearby Cardiff Central
Parking City Car Parks
Facilities City Centre








The remains Blackfriars Friary in Cardiff  is situated in Bute Park in the centre of Cardiff which is next to Cardiff Castle. The two can easily be visited on the same trip.


It was once a thriving religious house of the Dominican order but these days there is very little left of the original complex. The Marquis of Bute granted the friars land in 1242 and they remained on this site until the Friary was dissolved in 1538 and the buildings fell into ruin.





The site of the former Friary was excavated in the Victorian times, and the dig revealed extensive foundations which allowed the lay-out of the original building to be precisely determined. As there were no  masonry remains, the decision was made to build low brick walls on the original foundations, to demonstrate the scale of the building. The site was also paved, originally in attractive floor tiles, but these were later removed to stop them being damaged and today there are patio slabs instead.


In all honestly this change has made the friary site look like a modern shopping precinct, and if you didn't know the history below your feet you would be excused for thinking that it was a piece of 20th century landscaping.


The low walls at one time seemed to have been planted up with flowers, but today they have been capped with turf, to preserve them. This turf capping method can also be seen at Hailes Abbey. Whilst attractive at Hailes, the walls are not so well maintained in Cardiff, so it makes the site look a little unkempt.






However, the area which used to be the Cloisters have been attractively paved and planted with a lovely display of plants, which were still in bloom in October when we visited. 


There are also a few of the Victorian replica  floor tiles in situ at the site, although they were buried below a lot of mud and leaves, due to us visiting in autumn. However the rest of the tiles were moved to the nearby cafe and can be viewed there. 


The site has some good information boards and a model of how the Friary once looked, which puts the site in context.


Bute Park is a pleasant green space in the middle of the city which has many other interesting features, including a children's play area, nature trail, and several cafes. We also came across a stone circle, which although is ancient looking, was actually installed as a feature in 1978 to celebrate Cardiff hosting the Welsh National Eisteddfod.


The park is situated next to the river and there is a landing stage where boat trips depart from. There is also a very nice tea room at the entrance to the park, they do amazing cream teas and cakes! So along with the close proximity to the castle, it is an area full of things to do and well worth a visit. 




More info: Blackfriars' Friary Cardiff

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