March 18, 2007

St. Donat's Castle

Aerial View

When I lived in Wales, I was lucky enough to work at the amazing St. Donat's Castle, home of Atlantic College, one of twelve United World Colleges. St. Donats dates from the 12th century and was purchased in 1928 by William Randolph Hearst. As was the case with Hearst, he plundered castles and chateaux across Europe and the UK to find rooms and wings for the Castle. He also brought electricity and phone service to that section of the coast of South Wales.

Castle with pool & barracks in foreground

Hearst used St. Donats as a place to keep his mistress, Marian Davies, when he was in Europe. He had seperate bedrooms for each of them, but there was an adjoining door for ease of use. Hearst had the lawn terraced down to the seafront, and at the bottom were the historic barracks that were used in defense of the castle (castles are fortresses and palaces are for living in). You can just see the barracks and seawall in the inlet.

Looking towards the Castle & Bay, Barracks to the right

The number of bathrooms in the castle went from three to 28 during the rebuilding. The bathroom we used was three flights down a circular staircase in a tower, and was located in the former dungeons! The dining room was from a chateau in France and could seat the entire 300+ member student body at one seating. One of the other rooms added was the Bradenstoke Hall, which is used as an auditorium. As long as I was at the castle, I never saw the entire thing, although one afternoon, one of the housekeepers took us on a long tour.

Bradenstoke Hall

Front Portcullus

View across the lawns. You can see the crenelations of the barracks at the bottom.

The tides along this stretch of coast were amazing...

I have cobbled these photos together from different sources, because the 100's of pictures I took were on my laptop that was stolen last year. That about broke my heart!


  1. Beautiful! I never knew Hearst owned a castle in Wales. And 28 bathrooms!!! I went to Wales once and saw a few castles, but not this one. It's a beautiful country.

  2. Fairfax, you are always a wealth of information. What an adventurous career you've had too :)

  3. Gorgeous castle and country. What's up with all the Welsh jokes, anyway? It looks lovely to me.

  4. Fairfax, wasn't saying YOU were making fun of the Welsh, BTW, I have just heard that it's a popular thing to do in England to make fun of the Welsh.


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