New book featuring previously unseen images of Cardiff Castle published
A new book featuring previously unseen images of Cardiff Castle has been published. 

Called “Cardiff Castle and the Marquesses of Bute”, the book is the first in almost 100 years to focus exclusively on the castle and was written by former Castle Curator, Matthew Williams who retired earlier this year, after 29 years working for Cardiff.

As well as newly commissioned colour photography, the 208 page book contains more than 100 previously unpublished images. These include a number of reproductions of oil paintings, watercolours and prints, and approximately 60 previously unseen historic photos, gathered from the castle’s archives and other public and private collections - including the Bute family’s private collection.

Speaking ahead of the launch event, Mr Williams said: “It’s been an enormous privilege working in one of the most imaginative buildings of the 19th century. Even as a student, I was a fan of William Burges – I had a poster of his 1981 centenary exhibition on my wall – so to be able to play a part in the restoration of the castle and share my enthusiasm and interest with visitors, and now readers, has been a real pleasure.”

Mr Williams continued: “The Bute family have been exceedingly kind and supportive over the years, allowing me to roam all over Mount Stuart, the family home in Scotland which proved enormously useful in developing an understanding of the castle’s Victorian appearance.

“This book is my farewell gift to the castle, I wrote it while I was working there, and it contains almost everything I’ve learned about the castle, since its association with the Bute family began.”

Notable images in the book include:

  • A spectacular ‘artist’s impression’ of the castle’s proposed new tower, painted in watercolour in order to whet the appetite of Lord Bute prior to construction, and showing a tiled roof - not the lead finish that was eventually built. 
  • A rare photo showing the Clock Tower in the late 1880s, grape vines growing up the South wall and the animals of the famous Animal Wall – as yet uncarved. 
  • A hitherto-unknown photograph of the castle’s grand staircase in 1907, decorated for the visit of King Edward VII. Taken by an amateur Cardiff photographer, Mr Chorley, whose photographs were given to the castle collection in February this year. 
  • A photo from 1943, held in a private collection in West Wales, showing damage to the roof of the castle wall caused by wartime bombing raids. 
  • A watercolour painted in 1793 and held in a private collection showing the views out to Cardiff Bay enjoyed by the castle at the time. 

Cabinet Member for Culture and Leisure, Cllr Peter Bradbury, said: “Matthew’s been a firm fixture at Cardiff Castle for many years and I know he’ll be missed by everyone at the castle, as well as the thousands of visitors who pass through its gates every year.

“The knowledge he’s accumulated and laid down in this book is remarkable and I’m sure it will prove to be a popular addition to the gifts and keepsakes on sale in the castle gift shop, helping us continue to preserve this iconic part of Cardiff’s heritage for future generations.

The 208 page, coffee-table sized book is available to buy directly from the gift shop at Cardiff Castle as well as via Amazon at a recommended retail price of £30. A limited edition hardback version is also available, costing £75.