Beetling around in brilliant Bristol, living it up in Llandaff and captivated by Cardiff Castle

Wednesday 26th August

Today with the rain moving East to London we took off West to the sunshine of South Wales but first detoured to the beautiful harbour city of Bristol to find Bristol Cathedral. The church historian and architectural scholar Pevsner describes this Cathedral whose nave was not completed until the 1860’s as superior to anything else built in England and indeed in Europe at the same time. This is high praise but the Cathedral does make an impact.  The reason for this is that the nave, choir and aisles are all at the same height creating effectively a mediaeval “hall church” …a lofty and elegant space with a series of elegant arches.” With the technology then available, flying buttresses were no longer required and the result is a very “clean” building with flowing lines.

C18th addition of the Nave at same height as the Choir to produce the effect of a Mediaeval

C18th addition of the Nave at same height as the Choir to produce the effect of a Mediaeval “Hall” church all at one height

Bristol Cathedral West front with the statue of Indian Renaissance philosopher, reformer, scholar and patriot Rajah Rammihun Roy (1772-1883) in the foreground.

Bristol Cathedral West front with the statue of Indian Renaissance philosopher, reformer, scholar and patriot Rajah Rammihun Roy (1772-1883) in the foreground (and me)

Richard in sight of another cathedral in Bristol

Richard in sight of another cathedral in Bristol

Exterior of Bristol Cathedral Gothic Revival with no flying buttresses

Exterior of Bristol Cathedral Gothic Revival with no flying buttresses

Originally a Norman  “hall church”  was built within the abbey in 1298 but  Henry V111 ordered the dissolution of the abbey in 1539 and only the choir remained until the nave and west front was added in Gothic Revival style in the 1860s.

Striking Millenium Communion Table ..a radical move in the centre of Bristol Cathedral

Striking Millenium Communion Table ..a radical move in the centre of Bristol Cathedral

1298 choir stalls in Bristol Cathedral

1298 choir stalls in Bristol Cathedral

1298 Eastern Lady Chapel in Bristol Cathedral ..originally a memorial for the Berkeley family

1298 Eastern Lady Chapel in Bristol Cathedral ..originally a memorial for the Berkeley family

Ann in the memorial garden of Bristol Cathedral

Ann in the memorial garden of Bristol Cathedral

1298 ceiling bosses in the 1298 Berkeley Chapel

1298 ceiling bosses in the 1298 Berkeley Chapel

Original 1298 Gothic Choir of Bristol Cathedral

Original 1298 Gothic Choir of Bristol Cathedral

Early Henry V111 stained glass window in Bristol Cathedral

Early Henry V111 stained glass window in Bristol Cathedral

Early 1220 Elder Lady Chapel in Bristol Cathedral

Early 1220 Elder Lady Chapel in Bristol Cathedral

Ancient Saxon stone carving of the Harrowing of Hell, Christ saving Adam and Eve representing all humanity in Bristol Cathedral

Ancient Saxon stone carving of the Harrowing of Hell, Christ saving Adam and Eve representing all humanity in Bristol Cathedral

It’s latest claim to fame is as the site for the filming of Hilary Mantel’s impressive Reformation novel  Wolf Hall detailing the contribution of Thomas Cromwell to Henry V111’s  court and to the Reformation.  The chapter house and church were both substantially used in this BBC production and the church was turned into Westminster Abbey for Henry’s marriage to Anne Boleyn

Hilary Mantel's

Hilary Mantel’s “Wolf Hall” was filmed at Bristol Cathedral for the new BBC production..both church and chapter house were used in 2014

Moving on from Bristol we crossed over into Wales via the amazing suspension technology of the bridge over the Severn River.

Amazing suspension bridge over the Severn river linking Wales and England filmed through the car window (not by me!)

Amazing suspension bridge over the Severn river linking Wales and England filmed through the car window (not by me!)

and again!

and again!

Our first goal was Llandaff Cathedral in the city of Cardiff. It is approached from a carpark high above the building by a series of steps …”The Dean’s steps” and one then arrives at a quite small front door which opens to four or five steps down to the floor of the cathedral so that you enter with a total overview of the whole interior from above.

Ancient tiny carved front door at the base of the

Ancient tiny carved front door at the base of the “Dean’s steps” which opens to five more steps making you almost “dive” into the Cathedral ..quite wonderful

Landed Cathedral Cardiff, exterior view

Landed Cathedral Cardiff, exterior view

A church has stood on this site since 546. The C12th early Romanesque/early Gothic building fell into decline during the Reformation and Puritan era and was severely damaged by wild storms.  In the mid C18th restoration began but the building was again severely damaged by a German landmine in World War 11. Architect George Pace lead the reconstruction after the war which included a brand new chapel (The Welch Regiment Memorial), strengthening of the C19th tower and the extraordinary introduction of a concrete chancel arch which holds the former organ case on which was suspended the figure of Christ in Majesty  by Sir Jacob Epstein.

Jacob Epstein's

Jacob Epstein’s “Christ in Majesty” suspended on the former organ collar..a massive introduction to Llandaff cathedral in 1958

Reverse view seen from the Choir

Reverse view seen from the Choir

1280 Lady Chapel with unusual painted ceiling

1280 Lady Chapel with unusual painted ceiling

The old mediaeval stone reredos that used to stand behind the high altar now part of the wall of the side aisle

The old mediaeval stone reredos that used to stand behind the high altar now part of the wall of the side aisle

Artistically there are many treasures here including a set of porcelain panels by C19th Pre-Raphaelite artist Edward Burne-Jones  showing the six days of creation above the communion tabel in the Dyfrig Chapel, and “The Seed of David” triptych in the Euddogwy Chapel by another Pre-Raphaelite artist Dante Gabriel Rosetti. In addition there is the very modern “Annunciation” by Clive HIcks-Jenkins completed in 2010 and a memorial of St Francis of Assisi in bronze. This is a cathedral of surprises and it is completed by the installation in 2010 of a huge new organ  (the largest wholly-new British built organ to be commissioned in a UK cathedral for 50 years).

Pre-Raphaelite artist Edward Burne-Jones triptych

Pre-Raphaelite artist Dante Gabriel Rosetti  triptych “The Seed of David” showing David the Shepherd, (Edward Burne-Jones head), David the King (William Morris head) and the birth of Jesus (between 1856 and 1864)

Porcelain panels showing the six days of Creation by Pre-Raphaelite C19th artist Edward Burne-Jones.

Porcelain panels showing the six days of Creation by Pre-Raphaelite C19th artist Edward Burne-Jones.

“The Virgin of the Goldfinches ” by Clive Hicks-Jensen 2010

Memorial bronze of Francis of Assisi in Llandaff Cathedral Cardiff

Memorial bronze of Francis of Assisi in Llandaff Cathedral Cardiff

After lunch we ventured back into Cardiff Central, past the beautiful homes in Cathedral Place and the sensational Millennium Stadium and found a lucky park near to the C12th Norman Cardiff Castle and keep.

Impressive homes on both sides of Cathedral Place Cardiff

Impressive homes on both sides of Cathedral Place Cardiff

View of Cardiff from the top of the Norman Castle Keep

View of Cardiff from the top of the Norman Castle Keep

another view from the top with a glimpse of the sensational millennium stadium

another view from the top with a glimpse of the sensational millennium stadium

View of the city from the lawns of Cardiff Castle on a beautiful summer's day

View of the city from the lawns of Cardiff Castle on a beautiful summer’s day

Another view of the Castle house and Millennium stadium

Another view of the Castle house and Millennium stadium

This huge walled site has also had a chequered history through all the wars and ups and downs of Welsh and British history too complex to describe here. Eventually it came into the hands of the Marquesses of Bute and one John Stuart who employed Capability Brown and Henry Holland to create a Georgian mansion on the site alongside the fortified castle keep. With wealth from the coal industry this family continued to expand the buildings, destroying most of the mediaeval components in the process.

Ann at the Cardiff Castle fortified keep

Ann at the Cardiff Castle fortified keep

Ann outside the walls of the whole Cardiff Castle complex

Ann outside the walls of the whole Cardiff Castle complex

Arrow wall at the second level of the fortified keep

Arrow wall at the second level of the fortified keep

Close up of the Cardiff Castle fortified Keep

Close up of the Cardiff Castle fortified Keep

Inside view of the middle level of the Cardiff Castle fortified keep

Inside view of the middle level of the Cardiff Castle fortified keep

Vertigo view from the top of the fortified keep of Cardiff Castle

Vertigo view from the top of the fortified keep of Cardiff Castle

The wall!

The wall!

In the first half of the C19th John Crighton -Stuart employed archtect William Burgess to create a bizarre Neo-Gothic Revival house superimposed on the existing mansion and this is now what the National Trust cares for today. It has a romantic, almost Disneyland happy feel and on a beautiful summer’s day it was a nice place to be.

External view of the Gothic Revival home of the Marquesses of Bute

External view of the Gothic Revival home of the Marquesses of Bute

Detail of the Gothic Revival mid 18th house created by William Burgess for the Bute family

Detail of the Gothic Revival mid 18th house created by William Burgess for the Bute family

Ceiling of the Banqueting Hall

Ceiling of the Banqueting Hall

Another Gothic revival ceiling

Another Gothic revival ceiling

Fireplace detail in the Gothic revival House of Cardiff Castle

Fireplace detail in the Gothic revival House of Cardiff Castle

Richard once again in a wonderful library

Richard once again in a wonderful library

and again!

and again!

and another fireplace

and another fireplace (actually now I look at it is the same one!)

Base of the staircase in the Gothic revival house at Cardiff Castle

Base of the staircase in the Gothic revival house at Cardiff Castle

Ann is the person in the mid-centre left on the lawn from the top of the Keep

Ann is the person in the mid-centre left on the lawn from the top of the Keep!

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