Cardigan Castle has seen its fair share of drama over the years, from a Norman invasion in 1066 to Wales’ first Eisteddfod in 1176. And 2015 is also a year set to go down in its history.
The Castle, which has been unoccupied since 1996, will open its doors to visitors in April, following an extensive £12m restoration project which began in 2011.
After more than a decade of fundraising, led by the Cadwgan Building Preservation Trust (CBPT) and its devoted volunteers, the 900-year-old site will be given a new lease of life as a heritage attraction, luxury accommodation provider, bar and restaurant, and wedding and events venue.
The Trust has received more than £6m from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and £4.3m from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) through Welsh Government, to restore the Grade I listed building, while creating new, sustainable uses for the historic site.
Further funding was received through a Communities Asset Transfer grant with support from the Welsh Government, Cadw, Big Lottery Fund, The UK Association of Preservation Trusts, The Architectural Heritage Fund, Ceredigion County Council, Cardigan Town Council and The Prince’s Regeneration Trust, as well as through community fundraising.
The redevelopment of the site has included the recreation of the paths and lawns of the Regency gardens, fitting of a floor-to-ceiling glass restaurant with panoramic views over the River Teifi, and the restoration of the whalebone arch – a ‘must have’ feature for early 19th century gardens.
It is hoped that the Castle will become one of west Wales’ top tourist destinations, attracting at least 33,000 visitors in the first year and bringing significant economic benefit to Cardigan and the wider area.
Jann Tucker, Chair of CBPT, who was recently awarded an MBE for her efforts in preserving Welsh heritage, said the Trust was now gearing up for an “incredibly intense” period over the next few months. “It’s been a long time coming but the finishing post is nearly in sight. We have worked so long and so hard for this. The Castle will really put Cardigan on the map,” she said.
As the Castle moves into the final phase of completion, the workforce is now busy installing interpretation and creating heritage exhibition spaces; fitting the restaurant, shop and luxury accommodation; and recruiting kitchen staff ready for its opening.
Cris Tomos, Castle Director, said: “The restoration project is complete and now it’s all-hands-on-deck getting the Castle ready for operation. We’re planning an exciting programme of spring and summer outdoor events, a rotating exhibition featuring local talent and a seasonal menu in the restaurant.”
For further information please visit www.cardigancastle.com