Journal of Architectural Conservation Cardiff Castle

To have a better understanding of the history behind Cardiff castle I though it would be important to read about the conservation process it went through to learn about the interior and challenges they faced. This was a very interesting read as they had to prioritise the three criteria of aesthetics, interpretation and education which involves a great deal of subjectivity. Looking at the various case studies they illustrate clearly how the importance of preserving the more significant interior affects the treatment of external elements. The approach of minimum intervention is at the core of the most ethical conservation practice, ensuring that the historic value of buildings is preserved.

‘in collaboration with his architect William Burges ( 182 7-81) – to fulfil his high Victorian dream and turn Cardiff Castle into a neo-gothic, medieval fantasy.’

‘Internally, the changes were even more dramatic, not least the 15 themed interiors whose decor consisted mainly of colourful oil painting on canvas, plaster, timber and stone. With timber and stone often ornately carved, and marble and gold leaf in abundance, the interiors are without doubt most impressive.’

‘International significance. Based on the present Burges scheme, ‘an unsurpassed example of 19th century Gothick expression and medieval fantasy’. The significance here is largely based on the Burges interiors.’

‘When the Clock Tower (see Figure 1) was first built, its aesthetics were obviously vitally important. But is that still the case, or has the patination of age now become more important than the tower’s aesthetics? If the leadwork were deteriorating, and parts had to be repaired or renewed, how satisfactory would it be to have new lead work directly alongside old patina ted lead? From a viewpoint of interpretation and education, is it important to maintain the original, overall aesthetic, artistic and architectural integrity of the whole leadwork, and the whole tower? Or is it more important to illustrate to society that such leadwork goes through an ageing process and that, over time, it will have to be repaired and renewed?’

‘The structure from the gallery level upwards is composed entirely of timber; it therefore had to be considered what leakage could mean to the interior.’

‘In the Winter Smoking Room, there is something seriously detracting from the significance of the original – it is not complete. The only complete decorative scheme is the one presented to us today. There is thus no justification for removing the overpainting. It is not a question of minimum intervention, but of no intervention at all.’

Banqueting Hall

‘Decoration within this room consists largely of impervious oil paint applied to marouflaged canvas attached directly to plaster and masonry. As in other rooms, the most ornate decoration is applied to marouflaged canvas.’

‘The whole interior is, however, getting darker with age, so the new paintwork has always attempted to match in with the darker decoration.’

‘Unfortunately, alkyd resin varnishes become less soluble and more difficult to remove
as time passes.’

John Edwards (2002) Conserving Cardiff Castle, Journal of Architectural
Conservation, 8:1, 7-22, DOI: 10.1080/13556207.2002.10785308

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