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15 November 2019Welsh Architectural Eccentricities
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Welsh Architectural Eccentricities Matthew Williams Friday 15 November 2019

Matthew Williams will be taking us to Wales for the day and will start by sharing his love of Cardiff Castle where he has been Curator since 1998. The castle was originally Roman but was completely transformed in the 1870s by the Marquess of Bute and his eccentric genius architect William Burges who created a ‘Feudal extravaganza’ in fifteen highly imaginative interiors, including an Arab room, a Pompeian roof garden and rooms with an astrological theme.

After coffee, we will move on to Castell Coch, another creation of the Marquess of Bute and William Burges which was designed to be a re-creation of a C13th castle, complete with elaborate interior decorations, a working drawbridge and a portcullis, and intended as an amusing ‘holiday home’ for the Bute family and their guests.

In the afternoon, we visit Portmeirion, a colourful Italian fantasy village on the coast of north Wales created by Sir Clough Williams-Ellis, as a personal defiance against what he saw as the increasing ugliness and despoilment of Britain. By the 1940s it had become the playground of artists, aristocrats and intellectuals  including H G Wells, Bertrand Russell and Noel Coward.  We will look at the place, its architecture and associations as well as at Portmeirion Pottery while Matthew  draws upon some very personal memories as his uncle was Resident Director of Portmeirion for many years.

Venue: Wokingham Theatre

The format of the day will be as follows:-

10.00    - Arrival and coffee

10.30    - Cardiff Castle - A Welsh Victorian Camelot

11.30    - Coffee

12.00    - Castell Coch – A Welsh Rhine Castle

13.00    - Sandwich Lunch

14.00    - Portmeirion – An Italianate fantasy village in Wales

15.00    - Close

Matthew Williams trained as an Art and Architectural historian and was appointed as Keeper of Collections of Cardiff Castle in 1990, becoming Curator in 1998.  He has since become a recognised expert on the work of the Gothic revival architect William Burges and lectures widely on the subject of Victorian design.  His new book on ‘Cardiff Castle and the Marquesses of Bute’ is being published by Scala in 2019.

Cost: £33 to include tea/coffee and a sandwich lunch

There are still places available and we can also take bookings from family and friends if you know anyone who is interested. Booking will close on 10 November 2019.

Click here to download booking form