I spend most of the week in and around Cardiff. Anyone who spends any amount of time in around Cardiff and manages raise their eyes to the skyline can’t help but witness the impact that Marquess of Bute and William Burges had on the city.
William Burges (1827 – 1881) was an English architect and designer. Recognised as the greatest of the Victorian “art-architects”, Burges work strove to rise above 19th century industrialisation through the inspiration of an idealised medieval Europe.
Burges’s style was formed through twenty years of study and travel, during his relatively short career he applied the same vocabulary to increasing effect.
Burges’s most notable works, Cardiff Castle and Castell Coch were undertaken for John Crichton-Stuart, 3rd Marquess of Bute – a man variously described on Wikipedia as the richest man in the world and as the richest man in Britain – take your pick.
Cardiff Castle is an example of high victorian gothic romanticism, Castell Coch, that sits just outside the city is a fairy-tale gothic castle on the site of a 13th century fortification.
My personal favourite in Cardiff is his Park House – pictured right. The house was Commissioned by the Marquess in 1874 for his Chief Engineer, John McConnochie. It is a building on a more domestic scale than either of the Castles. A building of liveable proportions that still manages to impress, inspire and provide a glimpse of the escape through art and architecture that Burges sought.
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