March 6, 2012

I Capture the Castle!

In film. or actually, in pixels. Ex-housemate Andy and I spent the day with Di, aka Yonks, and her charming American husband, John. It’s such fun to meet new people through the blog, and have them become instant friends!As we drove down the coast, and then rolled down the castle’s long driveway, we all knew we were in for a special day. Even though Di and John have lived in Wales for 18+ years, they’d never been to St. Donat’s Castle, but Andy had been several times. I was thrilled to be going back to a place that I’d loved. Because it was Project Week at the school, it was pretty quiet and lots of restoration projects were happening, as well as the students’ projects, hence the white vans scattered everywhere. As we walked through the portcullis, we were all struck by the history of the place, as well as the sheer size of the castle’s outer walls.The streaks running down the front of the castle are the lime leaching from the stone and mortar. It’s very common in older buildings. We first entered the outer courtyard, had a bit of a wander around, marveled at the details,and then went into the inner courtyard. This is the route I took every morning, and I still think this little inner court is one of the most evocative places I’ve been. It encompasses such a sense of what history means to me.

As we walked around, each new doorway elicited gasps of awe. The incredible ceiling in the faculty lounge is such a work of skill and symmetry, yet it has almost a modern look. We had coffee each morning at 11:00 in this room.

Bradenstoke Hall was brought from Wiltshire England and added to the original 12th century part of the castle.This is where all-school meetings are held and performances are presented.I love the way the sun shines through these leaded glass windows, and even picks up some of the pale shades of the green, blue and red glass.

There are massive fireplaces at either end of the room, but neither are in use any longer. I can’t even begin to imagine how this hall was transported to the wilds of South Wales in the early 1900’s, except to think that with former owner, William Randolph Hearst, anything was possible.

Just the logistics of moving a ceiling like this, and then getting all of the pieces back together, boggles the mind!

From there, we moved to the dining room, where the entire school ate together, a la Harry Potter. I talked about the dining room here, when it was used for an episode of Dr. Who. The room is nothing short of spectacular. From the carved wooden ceiling to the fireplace, to the gothic arched windows, to the stone screen on the back, every detail is phenomenal.

I made a little video so you can see the whole room, but it’s not ready yet, and it’s time for me to go to bed. When I get up tomorrow, it should be ready and I will post it. I have about 150 more images from St. Donat’s Castle, including the amazing Beast Garden, the old Barracks and Waterfront, and the Norman-era St. Donat’s Church. I still have to edit them, so will post them later this week.Thanks to everyone at St. Donat’s who facilitated this visit, and to Di and her husband, and Andy, for a wonderful day!


  1. Beautiful! I find such places absolutely intriguing and full of possibilities to daydream about bygone days. It must be such a please to attend a school like that.

  2. Beautiful. Is it haunted?

  3. What a beautiful place to have worked once upon a time, thanks for the tour!


  4. Meg I am amazed beyond. The doorway with the small bay window above; all of the ceilings, that dining room. The architecture and stonework! A Treasure.

    Art by Karena

  5. Oh what a treat! Adore all your pictures + thank you, Meg

  6. How will you ever come back?!? What an amazing spot and how wonderful that it was once a big part of your everyday life. Thanks for the gorgeous pic's!

  7. All I can say is Wow! Thank you for sharing the adventures of this trip - enjoy!
    I am anxious to go back also.

  8. What a SPECTACULAR TRIP you are having!!!

  9. This post is the third "Dr. Who" reference to come my way in the past three days. I suppose I must watch it now.

    Also, I was just thinking "Harry Potter" while looking at these amazing photos, and then you went and said it. Ha!

  10. Hi Meg!
    Thanks so much for info on this blog post! Something about the history of Britain has always captured my imagination. If I had not been an art major, and then Business (more practical - ha!) then design, I should have gotten a history degree. Just beautiful, and you are so lucky to have gotten to spend so much time here!

  11. I just discovered your blog 2 days ago and I have read it all up to now- so enjoyable! This morning I saw this school on tv . The story was about 3 young girls from Pakistan who had been injured by the Taliban when on a school bus - defying the restrictions prohibiting education
    for girls. They have all recovered and are now attending this school. They were shown in the dining room and also on the grounds.I was delighted to have seen this school on your blog yesterday & to recognize it today on television!!! and now back to the rest of this lovely blog. Kindest regards,Marjorie

  12. I can visualize the rooms with Hurst's furnishings. He chose all the furnishings for his homes himself. An amazing and marvelous historical structure. Thanks for inviting us for a peek. Cherry Kay


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