Folklore and Furnishings at Chirk Castle

Many of the objects on display at Chirk Castle reflect the international significance of the Myddelton family over the 400 years of their occupancy. As you visit Chirk Castle in September and October you can explore the Folklore and furnishings trail and discover some of the connections this eclectic collection has to folklore, mythology or stories from around the world. Read some of the stories that link to our collection below.

Statues of a Lion and Unicorn in Cromwell Hall

The Lion and the Unicorn

The story of these two beasts and their repeated clashes actually represents the long-standing difficult position between the thrones of England and Scotland. The lion and the unicorn are, properly speaking, heraldic supporters which appear on the full Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom, the lion standing for England, and the unicorn for Scotland.

A Chinese Vase in the Dining Room at Chirk Castle

The Four Dragons

The Four Dragons is a classic Chinese folk story, with a strong moral of self-sacrifice. Unlike the way that European dragons have been depicted in stories their Chinese counterpoints were often benevolent and kind...

The Pietra Dura cabinet from the Saloon at Chirk Castle

Orpheus and the animals

The tragic story of Orpheus and his wife Eurydice has been told in many forms from as far back as the Sixth century BC – here is the simplest version of it as far as we can discover.

A Kodansu box at Chirk Castle with an image of dragonflies attacking monkeys

The Dragonflies and the Monkeys

This delightful story with its clear moral comes to us from a Japanese item, however research suggests that the origin was in the Philippines. The cruel monkeys think they are superior to the tiny dragonflies, but the clever dragonflies soon teach them their lesson.

The Hare of Inaba pictured on the Shagreen Chest at Chirk Castle

The Hare of Inaba

The story of the Hare of Inaba comes from 8th century Japan, and has a strong moral of benevolence and kindness winning out over cruelty. It has been characterized as the story of the battle between civilization and barbarism in early Japan.

The fireplace in the library at Chirk Castle

Mermaids

Most of our planet is covered with water, and it is surely no wonder that all around the world centuries ago, the oceans were believed to hide mysterious creatures, including sea serpents and mermaids. The first mermaid stories appeared at least 1000 BC in Mesopotamia, and they have proved popular ever since.

A Carriage with six outriders, from the Pugin Corridor at Chirk Castle

The Grand Tour

It was a custom amongst wealthy aristocratic Seventeenth and Eighteenth century young noblemen to take a set Grand Tour of Europe, when they were about twenty one. By the Eighteenth century it had actually become a feature of aristocratic education, but the tradition declined in the Nineteenth century with the advent of the railways, and consequent popular access to that which had been a purely aristocratic preserve.

The Welsh flag flying in the breeze

The Red Dragon of Wales

The oldest recorded use of the red dragon to symbolise Wales is in the Historia Brittonum, written around 829 AD. The Red Dragon has come to symbolise all things Welsh, and one of the oldest stories tells the tale of its battle with the invading white dragon...

The Myddelton coat of arms on the ceiling of the Long Gallery at Chirk Castle

The Myddelton Wolf

The ‘Myddelton’ surname comes from the Fourteenth century marriage of Cecily Myddelton to Ririd, the Welsh nobleman who at that point took her English surname, but the Myddeltons of Chirk can trace their ancestry back to Rhirid ‘Flaidd’ (‘the wolf’).

The top of the Davies Gates, showing the Myddelton coat-of-arms and the Red Hand

The Red Hand of Chirk

The Red Hand of Chirk has long been a symbol of interest for visitors to the castle. Appearing on the family coat of arms for four generations, the red hand traces its origins back to King James I. However that hasn't stopped many more creative stories being created and attributed to the hand...