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Cardigan Castle: Pride of Wales

Cardigan Castle

Winning the coveted Project of The Year title in the RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) Awards 2016, Wales, a project involving the repair and conversion of Cardigan Castle adds this new honour to recent recognition in the RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) awards.

The restoration project was carried out for the Cardigan Castle Building Preservation Trust. Architects were Purcell; main contractors were Andrew Scott Ltd.

The annual RICS Awards celebrate inspirational initiatives across the built environment. The Project of the Year Award is presented to the project that has been judged overall as an excellent example of best practice by professionals working in both the built and natural environments.

The £11 million scheme to return the castle to the local community as a viable business also won the RICS Awards’ Building Conservation and Tourism & Leisure categories.

Ben Collins, Director of RICS, Northern Ireland & Wales said: “Cardigan Castle’s repair and conversion represents the very essence of the RICS Awards, restoring an important part of the country’s built heritage, supporting the local economy, and gaining significant community support.

“Quite simply, those behind the project have exhibited great vision and understanding in turning a dilapidated scheduled monument into a facility that the local community can rightly be proud of and one which is sure to bring long-term benefits to the locality.”

Castle facilities officer, Sue Lewis said: “This is a tremendous award for the castle and reflects the hard work, support and enthusiasm given by local people to make Cardigan Castle such a success. We are especially grateful to our funders, particularly HLF, WEFO, the Big Lottery and Cadw, who showed such confidence in the project from its very beginnings.”

The RICS award is the latest triumph for the castle project, which also won the Welsh Architecture award, plus the Royal Society of Architects in Wales (part of RIBA) Conservation Award just weeks earlier. The award judges’ citation said the 15 year campaign to save Cardigan Castle was “a triumph of public, community drive and commitment. Without the will and passion of the local people, the castle wall and associated buildings would almost certainly have been lost.”

The citation continues: “Not only have the architects Purcell created a new, valuable and beautiful destination for the town, but the project has also unlocked and opened up entry into the town.”

Cardigan Castle has been at the centre of the ancient port town of Cardigan since 1176 and was the birthplace of the national Eisteddfod. The castle fell into major disrepair during the 20th century and has now reopened following a 10-year project led by Purcell. For 15 years the Ceredigion community campaigned to save the site, which has been restored and transformed from a local eyesore into a modern heritage attraction and community centre, complete with luxury accommodation, a riverside restaurant and festival space.

One of the initial elements of the restoration was the fixing of the castle walls that had been neglected for hundreds of years. This involved the conservation of the curtain and castle walls as well as the middle turret. The objective was to consolidate and stabilise the walls, including rebuilding missing sections, and to stabilise the walls so that the steel stanchions could be removed.

As well as the stonework, the ground had to be cleared and the garden, which is listed along with the castle, had to be landscaped. The castle’s Georgian house was swathed in scaffolding to prevent it from any more damage before being fully restored. It had suffered 60 years of neglect and its ceilings had caved in, floorboards had dry rot and furniture had disappeared through the holes in the floor.

Once the walls had been conserved, the house restored and the gardens brought back to their Regency glory, the work began on the interpretation of the castle taking in almost 900 years of history, starting off with medieval, through to the Civil War, the Georgian history of the house and also the Second World War.

Cardigan Castle

Hamilton Weston Wallpapers

Hamilton Weston Wallpapers specialise in the recreation of historical wallpaper designs – usually from fragments discovered in situ in historic buildings. The company was set up during the early 1980s and is overseen by Georgina Hamilton and Robert Weston.

Over the years, Hamilton Weston has been privileged to work on many public and private restoration projects, including UPPARK, the 17th Century National Trust house destroyed by fire, No.1 The Royal Crescent in Bath and currently the Jane Austen House Museum in Chawton, Hampshire. Most recently, Hamilton Weston has been involved in the restoration at Cardigan Castle.

Working on Cardigan Castle, Hamilton Weston was initially contacted by Joanne Kelly of Purcell, Architects and Historic Building Consultants to reproduce several of the papers discovered in the house: Bird and Blossom wallpaper, its Rope design border and the Rose Bowl frieze.

Commenting on the Bird and Blossom wallpaper, Robert Weston, said:

“This charming design was originally machine printed in c. 1910, using approximately nine cylinder rollers. It was hung in bordered panels in a bedroom, and was found in a very dilapidated state. Fortunately a clean piece, giving us the full pattern repeat, and the original colouring, was discovered in a cupboard! We were able to reproduce the design very accurately using the modern digital printing process with many colour overlays. We also recreated the original rope border and this too has been reinstated, edging the wallpapered panels. The background paper is a hand brushed matte plain grey ground and so the wallpaper and its border have now restored the room to its early 20th Century style.”

Georgina added:

“At Hamilton Weston, we pay great attention to accuracy and detail, and we enjoy working closely with our clients on each project, in order to achieve the best possible result. Robert’s experience together with his architectural history background is a valuable contribution to our work.

“The Cardigan Castle project was a challenging yet valuable experience. We were working with enthusiastic and knowledgeable architects to restore this unusual property.”

 

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