LAST time, we took a look at Cardigan Castle and Castle Green in the first half of the 1900s. This week we take a look at the latter half and the decline and regeneration of the estate.

As 1950 came around, the Castle Green stables were being vandalised and boards and fittings were being stolen.

Castle Green House was considered to be used as an ‘old folks’ home’ on July 6, 1951. It was said that the south-west corner of the castle was in ‘a very poor state’ on September 28, 1952.

There was some good news on January 15, 1954, when the castle’s medieval remains were to become a Scheduled Ancient Monument. Two months later, the Davies family moved from Ty’r Ardd and the building was left empty.

The castle officially became a Scheduled Ancient Monument on June 16, 1961, and Castle Green House was also named a listed building.

In 1968, Cllr. Dr. Gwyn Jones proposed to use Castle Green as a car park.

A ‘large gap’ was observed in one of the buttresses on the castle wall on July 25, 1969, and on May 14, 1971, Cardigan Borough Council announced intention to purchase the property. Two weeks later, Barbara Wood’s response of ‘tell them to go and fry themselves’ was received.

Gladys Mary Wood died on March 18, 1973, and two years later, a special stamp was issued to commemorate the 800th anniversary of the first Eisteddfod, which was held in the castle.

That September, the south wall was reinforced by three metal buttresses, which were said to be ‘unsightly.’ It was a precautionary measure against the vibrations caused by pile-driving for the nearby footbridge. The buttresses remained until 2013.

Barbara allowed the occasional visitor into the castle in 1976, charging 50p per person.

Tivyside Advertiser: Castle Green House. Picture: Owen Howell/Cardigan CastleCastle Green House. Picture: Owen Howell/Cardigan Castle

On June 7, 1977, the grounds held a medieval pageant to celebrate the Queen’s Silver Jubilee and a month later, a plaque was due to be fixed to the wall to commemorate the castle as the birthplace of the National Eisteddfod but it was unable to go ahead due to structural concerns.

D. J. Cathcart-King examined the remains of the castle on October 4, 1981, and found the grounds to be ‘utterly overgrown’ and the house was deteriorating due to vegetation, vandalism and the elements.

He seemed impressed with the passages at the east tower and with the north tower at the rear of Castle Green House – with the latter noted to potentially have the earliest angle-spur buttresses in the country.

A number of dead and diseased elm trees were felled in the castle grounds by Dyfed County Council in December 1981.

An exhibition was held by Cardigan Town Council in 1983 at the castle to tell the history of the site to celebrate the Welsh Year of the Castles.

A special committee was set up to look at restoring the site. It was chaired by Cllr. H. Gwynfi Jenkins and the castle was opened to the public on select days during the summer by Barbara and school pupil Kevin Moses.

In 1984, the mansion had been declared ‘unfit for human habitation’ and Barbara was living in a caravan parked at the door. Part of the west wall was given a Dangerous Structures Notice that same year, with 30ft of it collapsing in the December.

The Dyfed Archaeological Trust carried out trial excavations at the site in the same year but they weren’t able to find anything.

A group of teenagers took it upon themselves to help maintain the castle, forming the Cardigan Castle Volunteers in April 1985, where they helped to clear some of the dense vegetation that had built up. The same year, a grass bank was created in place of the collapsed west wall section. In 1987, part of the wall by the Strand was declared unsafe and was dismantled and rebuilt. The following year, a newspaper report stated that a valuable painting was reportedly stolen and in September 1988, the Cardigan Castle Volunteers stopped their work. The same month, part of the northeast bastion collapsed.

A structural survey of the castle took place in 1989 by Ove Arup & Partners and they found parts of the ancient fabric when digging test pits.


A plaque commemorating the castle as the birthplace of the National Eisteddfod – which was planned for 1975 but had to be abandoned due to structural concerns – was unveiled on October 9, 1993, by Rev. John Gwilym Jones, the Arch-Druid of Wales. It had been created by Hanes Aberteifi.

In 1999, Barbara Wood left the estate for the last time.

We at the Tivyside Advertiser launched a Save the Castle campaign in October 2001 with a petition for Ceredigion County Council to purchase the site and the following January, it was advertised for sale.

On October 12, 2002, a number of items from Castle Green House were sold at auction. The following January, the roof of the stables collapsed. The National Assembly for Wales granted a sum of money to go towards purchasing the castle, with the council buying it from Barbara Wood on April 14, 2003.

Work began just three months later to clear some of the vegetation and the caravans and storage containers were removed. Numbers 1 and 2 Green Street were purchased as part of the estate and in September, an archaeological dig at the cottages revealed part of the medieval structure from the original castle.

The castle was opened to the public on November 12, 2003, for four days with more than 100 visitors each date – with 1,017 turning up on the final day. A later opening to the public on November 22 saw 460 people visit in just two hours.

The council acquired number 43, St Mart Street as part of the complex of the castle that December.

BBC TV show Restoration would feature the castle in 2004, and more than 2,000 visitors turned up over a three-day public opening. On June 30, Cardigan’s Gwyl Fawr Eisteddfod was launched from the castle and the castle was open to the public at weekends in July, before opening daily until early September.

Tivyside Advertiser: Cardigan Castle and bridge. Picture: John DaviesCardigan Castle and bridge. Picture: John Davies

Work began to build a protective cocoon around Castle Green House in February 2005. In 2006-2007, a feasibility study was carried out.

A slate plaque was discovered in the grounds in July 2007 with the inscription: “This pine end wall was built on the property of the late Jonathan Griffiths deceased in 1839.”

A Medieval Day was held the same month at the castle for the first time.

Cadwgan Building Preservation Trust announced plans to convert the front range of the Castle Green House into a Welsh Language Learning Centre, with the remainder of the building and the outbuildings being turned into holiday accommodation in September 2007. There were also plans to create a historic garden and build a restaurant on the site of the hot house.

The property was agreed to be leased to the trust by the council later that year and it was signed in 2009.

The following year, CADW began to repair the northeast bastion, east tower and curtain wall and carried out some archaeological work. Planning permission was granted for Cadwgan’s proposals in December 2010.

£4.7 million of funding was given to restore Cardigan Castle on March 2011, with the rest of the grant funding secured that October.

Trees were felled on the site in February 2012 and the work was to be overseen by project officer Steffan Crosby, gardener Kevin O’Donnell and education officer Rhian Medi Jones.

Work began on the outer walls in August, carried out by contractors Andrew Scott, and archaeological digs which began the previous month would find a portion of a 12th century square structure in the croquet lawn, with another being found north of Ty’r Ardd.

Mesolithic flints were found behind 43 St Mary Street. The outer walls were under repair and the driveway to the east of Castle Green House was removed, revealing 18th century retaining walls and a small structure near the well.

Most of the sycamore trees on the site were felled at the start of 2013 and work on the castle interior and buildings was to be done by Andrew Scott.

The stables were gutted and scaffolded, with work being done on the roof and the ceilings of Castle Green House were dropped, with the basement partitions and many of the doors and windows removed.

They were able to keep around 65 per cent of the original roof structure. The northern section of the west wall collapsed in May 2013 and was demolished. The following month, repairs were done to the stable yard wall, the former hot wall and the retaining wall east of Castle Green House. A heating chamber was discovered beneath the small pinery which was removed to build the restaurant.

Work continued on Castle Green House and the garden walls, as well as the stores and Ty’r Ardd being re-roofed and the new restaurant began to form. For the restaurant, the west wall’s remaining sections were removed and replaced with a new wall made from concrete.

The Green Street cottages were refurbished and they found more remains from the medieval castle.

A garden feature believed to have been dated prior to 1827 was found beneath the dining room of Castle Green House – where a lift shaft had been installed – and medieval remains from the north tower were found beneath the breakfast room and pantry. Work was beginning to recreate the wallpaper for the master bedroom of the house.

A medieval archway and wall was discovered beneath the hallway of the house. Leekes of Llantrisant was given the contract to furnish the restaurant and accommodation and this work was progressing quicky at the start of 2014.

Since then, the restaurant and accommodation opened and the castle plays host to a number of permanent and visiting exhibitions and is open daily to visitors between April and October.

With thanks to Glen Johnson for the information.