Chirk Castle blog

Welcome to the Chirk Castle blog. Visit each month for updates from Visitor Experience Assistant Huw Sayer, who will be delving into some of the castle's lesser known history and personalities, as well as reporting on the latest events, conservation work, and stories from the team....

The beautiful wrought iron Davies Gates at Chirk Castle

October 2018 - Building a legend

In the 17th-century the Wrexham area was to become synonymous with the early Industrial Revolution. Iron-working developed significantly from 1634, as the blast furnace at Ruabon supplied local smiths with pig iron, and with lengths of bar and sheet iron. Brothers Robert and John Davies, smiths at Croes Foel Forge in Bersham, were to become internationally respected for their design and craftsmanship, including some of their finest work at Chirk Castle.

A view down a section of Offa's Dyke on the Chirk estate where it descends to the Ceiriog Valley

September 2018 - Digging for history

As I remember it, for several pupils at Ysgol Rhiwabon in the early 1970s, the rampart of Offa’s Dyke (which still runs directly parallel to the school) represented not a historic boundary between Wales and the rest-of-Britain, but a fairly safe shelter to hide behind rather than attend lessons! But why was the Dyke really built? And when?

A view of the Magistrates Court from one end of the room

July 2018 - precious plasterwork

On the top floor of the Adam Tower at Chirk Castle there is a long, narrow room with white walls and a fireplace. Being as this room is at the top of two flights of uneven steps, and a bit of a dead-end it is often overlooked by visitors. This room is known as the Magistrate's Court, and it is fascinating, puzzling and important in its own right.

A misty sunrise over Chirk Castle estate

May 2018 - What’s the buzz? Is spring finally here?

We have grown used to ‘May Day’ as a regular Bank Holiday, but as a national feature it is fairly recent. It was adopted at the behest of the Trade Union movement to recognise the British labour force. However, the tradition of May Day is much older, and we can probably trace some Welsh celebrations back as far as the Roman Occupation!

A medieval archer at Chirk Castle

April 2018 - Unfortunate Exits

For high-profile participants in national politics, the Middle Ages were a dangerous time. Walking away from a career failure, ghost-writing an autobiography and living on the proceeds of internationally-broadcast chat shows wasn’t an available option. Life by the sword all-too-often meant sudden death by the same means!!

Daffodils on the lawn at Chirk Castle seen from the East

March 2018 - Springtime at Chirk

As Spring lambs gambol and Marathon runners gear up to pound the streets of London, some of us turn our thoughts to the beginning of a new year on the Chirk Castle estate. I thought you might find it interesting to see this season through the eyes of our newest Ranger, Keith Griffith, as he begins his first full season at the Castle.

The South Range of Chirk Castle as seen from the courtyard in February

February 2018 - The South Wing laid bare!

Of all the mysteries which surround Chirk Castle, its original appearance and function are by far the most commonly discussed, with the South Wing at the centre of many arguments. Is it purely a Tudor construction, or does it represent the skilful re-usage of an inner curtain wall of a far bigger castle?

Celebrating a medieval Christmas at Chirk Castle

December - Christmas through the ages

The ancient ‘winter festivals’ of light and fire offered temporary relief from the long, dark nights and short days. It is from these simple beginnings that we can trace the evolution of the Christmas festivities we recognise today.

A misty sunrise over Chirk Castle estate

November - Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness...

Autumn has always been regarded as a magical time, and nowhere more than in woodland areas, where the sights, smells and sounds of the forest inform the senses that the year is once more drawing to a close.

The courtyard clock at Chirk Castle, shown in a painting entitled 'Servant Ringing the Clock Bell' by an unknown artist.

October - Time and the Myddeltons...

Chirk Castle has clearly stood the test of time, and its timepieces have stood the test of many generations. Walk through the State Rooms and the silence is broken only by the steady, reassuring tick of a long case clock.

Chirk Castle Conservation Assistant Hannah Morris working under the table in the Dining Room

September - A brush with the past

At Chirk Castle, we are preparing ourselves to say ‘goodbye’ to Hannah Morris, who has been one of our hard-working Conservation Assistants for the past two years: reviewing her time and her role, Hannah realised very early that it was “the same as being a guardian, with a passion and a genuine appreciation for that which is in your charge”.

A view from the north facing Chirk Castle over the wildflower meadow

July - Chirk Castle’s wildflower meadows

Meadows are a part of the natural and cultural heritage of the British Isles, and feature heavily in our folklore and history. Flora, insects, bugs, reptiles, amphibians, small animals and birds all thrived in the lush pastureland.

Children enjoying the dragon procession in the courtyard at Chirk Castle on Knights and Princesses weekend

June - growing up in the medieval period

Chirk Castle is preparing for the Annual ‘Knights and Princesses’ event, but as hundreds of young would-be princes and princesses parade regally around the courtyard, it might be interesting to reflect on what life might have been like for children in the real ‘Middle Ages’

The Gregynog Festival Header

May - The Gregynog Festival and the Harlech Group

This year, the inspiration for the oldest extant Classical Music festival in Wales comes from the Summer of 1917, and the gathering of a most remarkable artistic community around Harlech Castle. We are delighted that Chirk Castle is to play host to the second weekend of this prestigious Festival, as the castle’s past occupant and benefactor, Lord Howard de Walden, was part of that inspirational ‘Harlech group’.

Chirk Castle and Cadbury staff, volunteers and visitors enjoying egg rolling in the spring sunshine

April - Easter, the season of rebirth

As we celebrate the coming of Easter to Chirk, we reflect on ways in which the season will have been celebrated over the castle’s seven hundred years’ existence: long before ‘Cadbury’s Egg Hunt’ attracted hordes of families seeking an instant sugar boost for temporarily quiet children, the castle witnessed other, ancient customs.

Our costumed garrison welcome visitors to the castle for the new season in this short 2017 video

March - Lights … Camera … Chirk Castle!

You may have seen the advertisement which went out recently in mid evenings (in the advertisement breaks between episodes of Coronation Street, to be exact) in which the National Trust, through some beautiful photography and subtle sound-tracking, showed the nation the genuinely amazing times which await them if they visit NT properties.

The Lord of Misrule playing in the portcullis at Chirk Castle Medieval Christmas event

December - Christmas at the castle

Today we have a very clear idea of what we consider our Christmas traditions, and it may feel like it has always been so, but many of our modern traditions only date back to the mid-19th century...

Conservation team members performing conservation work in front of visitors as part of conservation in action

November - putting the castle to sleep

If you’re one of those people who think that working for the National Trust is a part-time Spring, Summer and Autumn occupation and that the end of the season heralds the beginning of late starts and long lunches, let me tell you about the work of the Conservation Assistants, who use this limited time to assess, monitor and deep clean the State Rooms in readiness for the thousands of visitors we welcome each season.

Spooky looking pumpkins arranged outside a door in the Chirk Castle courtyard

October - Hallowe'en or Samhain?

Away from all of the ‘trick or treating,’ and buckets of sweets I thought that you might like a brief look at some of the British traditions which have largely disappeared...

A group photo of WW1 Officers, with Lord Howard de Walden seated bottom rom, second from right

October - Thoughts of home from a father at war

When war was declared in 1914 Tommy, 8th Lord Howard de Walden, handed over his new yacht to the Navy, his horses to the Army, and set sail for Egypt...

Members of local re-enactment group Cwmwd Ial prepare to commemorate the Battle of Crogen at Chirk Castle

September - Invasion!

It’s 1165 and the mighty Henry II is gathering his forces, ready to expand his enormous empire even further... “thinking to annihilate all Welsh,” he leaves Oswestry and marches west, into Wales...