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Cardigan Castle


Visited May 2015

Location Cardigan
Entrance Fee Yes
Railway Station Nearby No
Parking In town
Facilities Cafe, Gift shop,Toilets


Cardigan Castle is an ancient fortress, once the stronghold of Lord Rhys, the first Welsh lord to build a stone castle. However, it had been privately owned and lived in for as long as anyone could remember, with only sporadic access for the public. In 2003 the castle site, which contains a large Georgian house built into the ancient walls, was bought by Ceredigion Council and they have totally refurbished the site. It was only  re-opened in April 2015, and so we believe C4K to be one of the first of the castle sites to have visited and reviewed the new Cardigan Castle!






In 1176 Lord Rhys held the first ever Eisteddfod at the castle. The tradition was revived again in 1942, when the castle site once more hosted the competition. There is clearly a lot of time passed in between these two dates, with the castle changing hands from Welsh to English and receiving many royal visitors. In 1501 it became the property of Katherine of Aragon as part of her dowry, and in the civil war it was slighted -like so many other castles at the time. In more peaceful times a house was built in the grounds and it became a fine residence, only to be given a military function once more during WW2 when a pill box was sited in the grounds.




The renovation of the castle started in 2011 and cost £12 million. The site opened in April 2015, however as we found, it is not quite ready yet. The map we were given showed a children's playground which was not even started during our visit in May, the gardens are still being planted and the museum is still being fitted out with the exhibits. The cafe was up and running though, and an Eisteddfod throne has been sited in the grounds for an ideal photo setting. To be fair we were not charged the full entrance fee (which is currently advertised as £5.50 for adults and £4.50 for children) which was good because there was not really enough to do on site to justify that level of cost. Maybe when the site is fully finished it will offer better value for money. In the meantime people were asking to go in and just use the cafe but they were expected to still pay an entrance fee, which I think was a shame as no one will pay an entrance fee just to buy a coffee so the cafe loses revenue. Maybe this policy will be reviewed in future. 





In the meantime we had a pleasant but shortish visit, we looked at the museum in the house, all the new planting around the site and admired the restored curtain wall and the WW2 pill box. It certainly has been a transformation and undoubtedly a lot of hard work for the Trust which now runs the castle, I just hope it builds on this success in terms of visitor numbers. We were on holiday when we visited so we will not be in the area again in the near future to do a follow up visit, so if anyone else visits in the future we would love to hear from you with an update. Our e-mail address is on the welcome page. 



Cardigan castle is about 15 minutes drive away from Cilgerran Castle, so the two can easily be combined on a day trip. 





More info:  Cardigan Castle



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