King of the Castle

“Support me and I’ll sell all the women and children into slavery!”

After careful consideration of this tempting proposition from Sir Jay, we decided to cheer on his opponent Sir Chris, as the 2 knights battled for control of Cardiff Castle. The latter promised to extend school holidays, but I’m not holding my breath on this one, any more than I would if it had come from a modern day politician.

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After showing off their swords to excited children, the knights treated us to an archery contest, while explaining how the English longbow actually originated in Wales. This bit of history was popular with the local audience. Both Sir Jay and Sir Chris impressively fired over 40 arrows inside a minute.

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We were visiting the castle on Easter weekend, so alongside the mediaeval revelry, egg and spoon races and egg throwing competitions were held for the children. I was proud of how my daughter F strictly obeyed the rules, which is more than I can say for most of the kids taking part. To be fair, many were overseas tourists and may not have understood a word the games organiser was saying. This was definitely an occasion to bury my competitive nature and remember that it’s not the winning, but the taking part that counts.

After all the excitement, F and I decided to climb to the top of the 12th century keep, from where there are extensive views over Cardiff. In one direction, we looked over the Victorian living quarters built for the Marquis of Bute, then the richest man in the world. Outside the castle walls, we could see the Principality Stadium, home of Welsh rugby. It used to be called the Millennium Stadium, but F referred to it as the Olympic Stadium, as we were there when it staged the first event of the London 2012 Olympics.

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In another direction we saw City hall and the National Museum, part of Cardiff’s elegant civic quarter.

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Behind the castle is Bute Park, once an extensive back garden for the Marquis. Looking this way, we could see Castell Coch, a Bute family fairytale folly in the hills outside the city. The view brought home the leafiness of Cardiff’s northern suburbs, as it didn’t appear at all like there was 5 -6 miles of the urban city between us and the other castle in our sights.

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Missing the William Burgess designed interiors of the castle, we decided we needed refreshment at the cafe. From there, we could view the Roman foundations of the original fort, built in the first century. Stairs from the cafe lead into another era of history, showing off the part of the castle that was used as an air raid shelter for the city’s residents in World War II.

Finally we came to F’s favourite part – the gift shop. Inspired by the knights, we purchased some toy swords. We had a good day, but F is still waiting for her extended school holidays.

Factfile:

Location

Cardiff Castle is in the centre of the city. Cardiff is the capital of Wales in the UK, lying about 150 miles west of London

Transport

Cardiff Central railway station has train services from many towns and cities across the UK. The nearest airport is Cardiff (12 miles)

Information

Events and attractions at the castle vary

For information on Cardiff Castle click here

For information on Cardiff and accommodation, click here

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