September 15, 2008

Wanna Buy a Castle?

St. Donat's Castle, where I worked in Wales, had been in the same family for hundreds of years. It sat empty for a while and was purchased by William Randolph Hearst in the early 1900's. He bought a bunch of other buildings and glommed them onto the edges of St. Donat's. He used the castle as a hide-away for his mistress, and had a phone line installed in the summer house below, so she could get calls from Hollywood. He only visited the castle a few times.
Fonmon Castle, up the road from St. Donat's, belonged to a friend, and her family has lived there for hundreds of years. Her brother is the hereditary peer and does all sorts of things to keep the place in the family and out of the hands of the tax man.


Caerphilly Castle, the second largest castle in the UK, after Windsor, was always a big favourite of mine. It was nine miles exactly from our house, and I would drive over on summer evenings and walk around the perimeter of the castle and its two moats.
Even Cardiff had two castles, a twelfth century one and a Victorian-era one, both ringed with a Victorian-era stone wall with all sorts of animals climbing their way over it. I should post the rest of these guys sometime...The entire country of Wales was encircled with an Iron Ring of Castles to keep the English out from the land side and the Celts out from the sea side. So every where you go, there are castle ruins - around every corner, along the coast, peeping out of the woods.
There are three castles currently for sale in the UK, but none are in Wales. One's a ruin in Scotland, but the heritage trust will help you rebuild it. One was home to Catherine Parr, but it's really a semi-detached house, so you'd have to share it. The third has eight bedrooms, so you could have loads of friends over for the weekend.I'd rather have any one of these than almost any one of Damien Hirst's pieces, which just sold for £70.5 million! Which one do you like the most?

24 comments:

  1. The ruin has the best surroundings. Perhaps one could sneak a tiny bedsit into it and leave it looking as it does now.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yes, I'd love to buy a castle.
    But I'd really love to buy that stone bear!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Wait... They turned a CASTLE into a semi?? That's just wrong... and hilarious!

    ReplyDelete
  4. love the second to last pic - they must have installed some new windows - the place isn't too big and doesn't appear to be too dark and damp - the fortress in Wales must be a little creepy inside as well as damp and dark. If you have not read I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith you must. She is also the author of One Hundred and One Dalmations.

    ReplyDelete
  5. 70.5 million! that's so wrong. Any castle would do, but I'd rather have the one with 8 bedrooms. Used to visit a girlfriend in Cardiff a lot - it's a great city.Went to an amazing wedding reception in Cardiff castle a few years ago -it was a night to remember!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Uh, I'd take a castle! I can't even imagine what the upkeep would be though.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I would love to VISIT a castle - I'm with PVE -the upkeep would be horrendous! So maybe I would choose the semi-attached one ;-) Or a condo in a castle would work well!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Balsam... Scottish Heritage is willing to help underwrite any changes to the property!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Pamela... I will have to post the rest of these critters. They line the stone wall around the Castle, along the main road. It's a really odd selection, including a pelican.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Just... I think they've sub-divided the place. And as Marnie said, it even looks like it's got nice double paned glazing!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Marnie... Caerphilly is HUGE inside and it has a fireplace that's at least 20 feet high! I have a photo of a friend standing in it.

    I have read I Captured the Castle. It's a sweet little book.

    When I worked at St. Donat's, we all had personal space heaters because our office was sooooo cold and damp. The bathrooms were down three flights and were in the old dungeons!

    ReplyDelete
  12. The last one is my favourite; it is so stern and a bit forbidding. I like that in a castle, either real or imitation.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I always loved Bodiam Castle. Nothing says "Howdy neighbor," like a moat.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Cube... in the top picture, you can see the remains of the old moat at St. Donat's.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Ah for a little place to call my own. A place to hang my hat. Room for a few friends to make for a delightful weekend in the country. And to remember the smell of wet tweed and damp bedding. Les rêves....

    But would we all have to wear those felt slippers to help keep the floors polished? You're all invited.

    ReplyDelete
  16. E&E... the floors at St. Donat's were well-polished by years and years of feet walking across the. The stone steps in the tower where my office was, were worn in the middle. It was incredible to think of all of the footsteps that trod them.

    ReplyDelete
  17. I wish Scottish Heritage would explain that generous concept to New York State so I could fix my antique chimneys.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I worked on Capitol Hill for many years, and there are marble steps in the Capitol stairwells...and the other buildings, that cave in the middle worn by steps over time. It's fascinating, isn't it? I couldn't walk on those worn spots and not think about those people.

    ReplyDelete
  19. A castle, even a ruin, wins hands down any day over Damien Hirst's shark, zebra or unicorn for that matter!

    Thank you for your comment on French Essence today xv

    ReplyDelete
  20. WOW... lovely post! I would love to have a castle... it must come with servants... I would not want to clean one!

    ReplyDelete
  21. The ruin in Scotland looks so romantic. And the view! I agree that if you had a castle you'd need a staff of servants inside and also outside. Lots to maintain.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Julie... one of my favourite pictures was of a Scottish castle, with a watchtower on a hill above.

    I forgot to mention that St. Donat's had a watchtower, too. It was covered with green vines and then one day, I looked and the estate staff had pulled the vines down and it was bare stone.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Meg, how could you leave?!?! It is like all of the fairy tales I loved (and still love)growing up. Time to take the kids on a trip. Just beautiful.

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for reading and commenting on Pigtown*Design. I read each and every comment and try to reply if I have your e-mail address.