Château de Tournon

Once again I am disappointed by a French historical building that promised much and delivered so little.

Tournon Castle

Perched above the town of Tournon, the castle has views over the town and river.

View From

Inside though another historical building has been stripped of much of it’s original fixtures and fittings, only to be replaced by modern works of art.

Art Work

Nice as some of them are to look at, you can soon get bored wandering from room to room and finding only these. Where is all the magnificent furniture, the drapes, ornaments etc. I mean you only have to read about some of the historical homes I have photographed in the UK to see the difference. Despite being built during the 16th century the Castle at Tournon has so little. Even Wikipedia in it’s description of Tournon Castle strips it down to one lineittle. Even Wikipedia strips it down to one line.

The Château de Tournon is a listed castle in Tournon-sur-Rhône, Ardèche, France. It was built in the 16th century. It has been listed as an official historical monument since March 28, 1938

Anyway let’s have a look around the castle. After paying your entry fee the first thing you get to see is the courtyard. Like all museums there is a sort of suggested route and entry to the rooms of the castle are through the small door. We struggled to find the light switch at this point and you do need it, especially as you are met with a winding staircase. Also coming in from the bright sunlight to this dark area, you are at first as “blind as a bat”.

Castle Courtyard

First room, mind the step, you have to step down into the room. Lots of shields on the wall.

Shields

Through the door into the next room. There’s a table and two chairs. Moving on quickly….

A Room

At this point I stopped following the plan. Up until this point I was by myself and could take my time taking photographs. But suddenly a part of people turned up so I jumped ahead to other rooms to get some peace and quiet to photograph. Later I can double back once they have passed through. It’s one of those things, you can’t expect exclusive access when visiting buildings…..but there is always one who wants to linger and look at the carving on the clock. I mean ten minutes just to look at it, c’mon give me a break.

Furniture

Another table and chairs……

Desk

….and here’s some more

Table and Chairs

viewed from another angle.

Table

In one of the rooms, there was a large glass case with what looked like some remains of a bridge. Remember Marc Seguin? I couldn’t photograph it, because there was a party of people there being given a lecture by one of the museums curators so time to move on. I found the church. Yep! That’s it below. Enough said.

Church

That’s it for Tournon Castle. Another disappointment, although that’s not strictly true. I did enjoy wandering around, especially as it got me out of the heat of the day.

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Gwrych Castle

Gwrych Castle

Gwrych Castle is a Grade I listed 19th century country house near Abergele in Conwy county borough, North Wales. Erected between 1819 and 1825 at the behest of Lloyd Hesketh Bamford-Hesketh, grandfather of Winifred Cochrane, Countess of Dundonald. From 1894 until 1924, when the Countess died, it was the residence of the Dundonald family. The Countess left the castle in her will to King George V and the then Prince of Wales (who later became King Edward VIII). However, the gift was refused and the castle passed to the Venerable Order of Saint John. In 1928, the Earl of Dundonald purchased the castle for £78,000, selling the contents to meet the cost.

During World War II, the Government used the castle to house 200 Jewish refugees. Following the war, the castle left the Dundonald family and was open to the public for twenty years. It was called The Showpiece of Wales at this time, and attracted many visitors. It was also used as a training venue for the English World Middleweight boxing champion Randy Turpin in the early 1950s.

Gwrych Castle Gate

In the early 60s it was an occasional venue for the famous motorcycle dragon rally and in the 70s it was used as a centre for medieval re-enactments, attracting tourists with such events as jousting and mock banquets.

The castle was last open to the public in 1985. Thereafter, it started to decline. It was bought in 1989 by an American businessman (Nick Tavaglione) for £750,000. However, his plans to renovate the building were not carried out. As a result, the castle was extensively looted and vandalised, becoming little more than a derelict shell

Gwrych Castle Ruins

During the period of Tavaliogne’s ownership, historian Mark Baker campaigned for the castle to be brought back to its days of glory—a campaign that he started when he was twelve years old. Baker was instrumental in forming the Gwrych Castle Preservation Trust, dedicated to ensuring the castle’s future. The condition of the property was monitored by the Trust, who lobbied Conwy council to compulsorily purchase the property, eventually placing enough pressure on the American owner, who put it up for sale in March 2006.

Gwrych Castle

City Services Ltd, trading as Clayton Homes and Clayton Hotels, bought the castle in January 2007 for £850,000, after it failed to reach its £1.5m reserve price at the 2 June 2006 auction. On 30 April 2007, Clayton Hotels announced a 3 year project, costing £6,000,000, to renovate the castle and convert it into a 90-bedroom 5-star hotel, creating 100 jobs. The project was subject to planning permission, but had the support of the Trust. Clayton Hotels spent about half a million pounds on its plans, clearing the site and rebuilding areas. City Services Ltd was placed into Administration on 12 August 2009, and the Castle sold by the administrators in April 2010 for £300,000 to Edwards Property Management (UK) Ltd of Colwyn Bay, who plans to continue the project to convert the Castle into a Hotel. Edwards Property Management. As of 2012 their subsidiary Castell Developments are in the process of securing planning permission for the Hotel.

Gwrych Castle View

As a photographer I would love to get in the castle and photograph it. There is a large security fence round the castle, albeit with several holes in it

52/2013 - Week 1

However, there are enough dire warnings about the state of the buildings inside to make it a dangerous excursion and I’m not that stupid. Saying that, on the day I visited and walked round the grounds, which are open, I did see two vehicles go into the castle beyond the fence. The occupants of one of the vehicles told me they were the “Official Photographers” so there must be some areas you can access safely. They also told me a Luxury hotel would be open on the site by 2015.

I have been in touch with Mark Baker, mentioned earlier in this post, asking about access. Mark has passed my details to the owners of the castle but I suspect they will not allow access.

All of the information for this article has been taken from a Wikipedia Entry for Gwrych Castle apart from the last two paragraphs.

 

Denbigh Castle in HDR

The Gatehouse

Denbigh Castle (Welsh: Castell Dinbych) was a fortress built following the 13th-century conquest of Wales by Edward I.

The castle, which stands on a rocky promontory above the Welsh market town of Denbigh, Denbighshire, was built upon an earlier Welsh stronghold.

The main gatehouse (shown above) was heavily buttressed with three octagonal towers and a drawbridge. Once through the gatehouse you come into the main castle proper and it is a photographers dream. I spent a good three hours here just taking various HDR Photographs. Shown below is the East Wall and the Green Chambers.

East Wall

Denbigh Castle was built on the site of a former Welsh stronghold held by Dafydd ap Gruffydd, the brother of Llywelyn the Last. The Welsh castle originally belonged to Llywelyn the Great. In 1230, an Abbot from England visited Llywelyn the Great at his new castle in Denbigh.

The current stone castle was begun by Henry de Lacy, 3rd Earl of Lincoln on territory given to him by Edward I after the defeat of the last Welsh prince, Dafydd ap Gruffudd in 1282. The Welsh castle was then torn down and work began on a new English fortress. At the same time, De Lacy was also granted a Royal Charter to create a new English borough and town. The fortress is commanding and sitting as it does on top of a hill provides amazing views across the surrounding Welsh countryside.

Countryside

As I said earlier I spent a fair amount of time taking photos here. One of the great things about Denbigh castle is the fact that you can clamber over the upper walls and passageways so I’ll leave you with this final image from the top of the East Wall.

Castle Walls

Today, Denbigh Castle is in the care of CADW: Welsh Historic Monuments. At certain times of the year (winter/early spring)  entrance is free but you’ll need to check with the CADW site to see exactly when.

For further reading (and more photographs) about Denbigh Castle and other Castles in Wales visit Castles of Wales. Looking further afield to all of Britain then  check out Castles of Britain, both sites are owned and operated by Lise Hull

Technical Note: All images in this post were shot with a Samsung GX10 and 18-55mm standard kit lens. The camera was mounted on a Redsnapper Tripod with ball head. Each HDR image was a bracket of 5 (-2, -1, 0, +1, +2), processed using SNS-HDR Pro.

Blaise Castle

Blaise Castle is an 18th century mansion-house and estate near Henbury in Bristol (formerly in Gloucestershire), England. Blaise Castle was immortalised by being described as “the finest place in England” in Jane Austen‘s novel Northanger Abbey.

Flint fragments show Blaise Castle Estate was probably first inhabited by Neolithic farmers. There is more definitive evidence for Bronze Age, Iron Age and Roman activity through the distinctive hill-forts in the area and other archaeological finds. The value of this historic landscape was recognised when it became a Scheduled Ancient Monument in 1982.

After the Anglo-Saxon invasion and subsequent conversion to Christianity, the land was granted to the Bishop of Worcester as part of the Kingdom of Mercia. During this time the estate picked up its association with Saint Blaise that lives on in the estate’s name.

Blaise Castle House

John Harford, a wealthy Bristol merchant and banker had Blaise Castle House built in 1796–1798, designed by William Paty. It is a grade II listed building.  John Nash added a conservatory c. 1805-6, and in 1832-3, C.R. Cockerell designed the Picture Room, now housing a fine display of paintings from Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery. Harford also had Blaise Hamlet built to house his servants and tenants, to designs of Nash and George Repton in 1811.

A branch of the Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery since 1949, Blaise Castle House now features collections relating to numerous household items in addition to its period interior decoration.

The castle

On a hill above the gorge is a sham castle overlooking Bristol, Avonmouth and the Avon Gorge, with views across to South Wales on a clear day. The architect was Robert Mylne and the date of building 1766; it is now believed that the design and the choice of the Gothic castle style may have had political connotations. Although referred to as a folly, it was inhabited well into the 20th century with sumptuous internal decoration. It is a grade II listed building.

The estate

The castle and its 650 acres (2.6 km2) of parkland are now open to the public (the ‘folly’ opens most Sunday afternoons) and include modern visiting facilities and a car park.

The grounds were laid out by Humphry Repton (1752–1818) a leading landscape gardener. Parts of Repton’s designs still exist, notably the impressive carriage drive which winds its way from the house. The Regency architect John Nash was responsible for the addition of the conservatory.

The grounds, which are open free of charge to the public, include a gorge cut by the Hazel Brook through Bristol’s limestone. The gorge features a selection of stunning landscape, including Goram’s Chair, a limestone outcrop often used by climbers, and Lover’s Leap and Potter’s Point, two panoramic viewing spots.

Stratford Mill was re-erected within the gorge after Chew Valley Lake was flooded to form a reservoir. Ongoing renovations started in 2004 of the mill, settling ponds and associated estate pathways.

 At the gorge’s southern end, Hazel Brook joins the River Trym, which continues its flow towards Sea Mills.