Secrets of Great British Castles (2015–…): Season 2, Episode 2 - Cardiff Castle - full transcript

Dan Jones explores the history of the Welsh capital's famous landmark, learning abut the many different incarnations of the castle over time and the many famous figures throughout history who've spent time within its walls.

For me, a great British castle

is a fortress, a palace, a home.

And a symbol of power, majesty, and fear.

For nearly 1,000 years,

castles have shaped
Britain's famous landscape.

These magnificent buildings have been home

to some of the greatest heroes
and villains in our national history.

And many of them still stand proudly today

bursting with incredible stories

of warfare, treachery,
intrigue, passion and murder.

Join me, Dan Jones,

as I uncover the secrets
behind six great British castles.

This time, I'm in Cardiff Castle.

Today, it's bursting with Victorian
wealth and splendor,

but it also has a history
rich in dastardly deeds,

horrible executions, bloody rebellions,

even helped fight off the Nazis.

Good morning. Receipt please.

Thank you.

Good day.

-Thank you very much.
-All right.

JONES: For many centuries,
Britain had a wild west,

fertile and full of opportunity

but also lawless, violent and restless.

Today, we call it Wales,

a place famous for music
for legends, and, of course, for rugby.

Throughout its history,
Wales has been fiercely independent.

It has caused a lot of would be conquerors
a lot of problems.

And that's why the whole place
is studded with castles,

from the huge fortresses of the North

to the strongholds here in the South
near the Bristol Channel. is deprecated, please
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My favorite of all of them
is here in Cardiff.

Today, Cardiff is the capital of Wales
and one of Britain's greatest cities.

It's also the place where Doctor Who
is filmed, which is quite fitting,

because over the centuries, Cardiff Castle
has had plenty of its own incarnations.

The original castle
was built in the middle ages.

But today's visitors are mostly coming
to see the extraordinary rooms

inside these Victorian gothic wings.

They were built by
the third Marquess of Bute,

one of the richest men in the world.

He spent a fortune
on these lavish interiors

at the end of the 19th century.

This banqueting hall
might look like something

straight out of the middle ages,

in fact it was built in the 1870's
and no expense was spared.

This was a time when medieval decoration
was all the rage.

But what I love about it is that
as soon as you step into this room,

you feel like you're transported
into Cardiff Castle's incredible history.

The story of Cardiff Castle begins in 1066
at the Battle of Hastings.

Sailing from France,
William Duke of Normandy

challenged the Anglo-Saxon king Harold II
for the throne of England.


After a raging day long battle,

Harold was killed.

According to the legend,
he took an arrow through the eye.

On Christmas day, 1066, William,
now known as "The Conqueror"

was crowned King William I.

William's Norman army set about
colonizing the whole of England.

They did it with castles
which they built across the land.

And when they were done with England,

William and the Normans
turned their sight westwards on Wales.

But the Welsh weren't just
going to roll over.

The Normans had to do something dramatic
to show off their power.

And they did what they
were most famous for.

They built a castle right here in Cardiff.

When the Normans got here, they found
the remains of an ancient Roman fort

built almost 1,000 years earlier

to protect the conquering Roman soldiers

from hostile tribes of native Britons
living nearby.

You can still see
sections of the Roman wall here

outlined in red sandstone.

Now, the Romans left Britain
in the fifth century AD.

And forts like the one here at Cardiff
were allowed to crumble.

But when the Normans arrived,
there was still enough left

perfectly located and just
begging to be built upon.

JONES: Marc,
this is a typical Norman castle?

MARC MORRIS: This is absolutely text book.

What the Normans were doing after 1066...

You've got a motte-and-bailey.

The motte being this great mound
of earth we see here,

and the bailey being everything else,
the wider enclosure.

And the bailey is where you have
basically all the buildings.

You have your horses within here,
you have your great hall,

your chapel, your rooms
where the knights sleep, everything.

And is this what we call the keep?

The bit on top,
we would now call it the keep.

They would've just called it either
the motte or the great tower.

We've got a stone tower here now,

but back in William the Conqueror's day,

a wooden tower on top,
wooden buildings everywhere.

Marc, what would this space
have been used for?

Well, the motte would've
been used for defense

if the castle was under attack.

For living,
when the Lord was in residence.

But also used as a prison.

One of the things that people
tend to forget about the Normans,

is that, whilst they were very violent
in their warfare,

when you surrendered to the Normans,
they would spare your life.

In a word, chivalrous.

Because they had the ability,
with castles, to confine people.

You can lock them up
and throw away the key,

but you don't kill them,
you just put them in prison.

Cardiff Castle became the power base

from which the Normans fought
to control the natives of Wales

and police the lands bordering England.

In the centuries to come,

Cardiff would be the scene
of savage uprisings,

brutal tyranny
and blood curdling executions.

But ironically, the first man to fall foul
of Cardiff Castle

was William the Conqueror's own son.

Cardiff Castle was originally built
in the 11th century,

to impose the authority
of William the Conqueror

and his Norman invaders over South Wales.

But bullying the Welsh
was relatively easy.

What the Normans couldn't do
was get along with each other.

When William the Conqueror died in 1087,
he was survived by three sons.

The oldest was called Robert,

the second was another William,
and the youngest was Henry.

All three wanted their father's throne.

The next in line should've been William
the Conqueror's eldest son Robert.

He was a little stout man
and his nicknames included "Fat legs"

and "Curthose" which basically
means shorty pants.

And Robert Curthose is buried here

in one of the most
magnificent buildings in England,

Gloucester Cathedral.

Robert was weak and easily influenced.

He had fallen out with his father
several times.

And at the time of the old king
William the Conqueror's death in 1087,

Robert had been banished abroad.

It was the middle brother, William Rufus,

who was named as the Conqueror's successor

and crowned King William II.

But that wasn't the end
of the family feud.

In 1100, William II was killed
in a hunting accident,

when a stray arrow hit him in the back.

This enabled the youngest brother
to pounce.

Robert Curthose was away
fighting on a crusade,

and in his absence,
Henry now grabbed the throne,

and was crowned Henry I.

Robert wasn't very impressed.

Losing the crown to one younger brother,
well, that was bad enough.

Losing it to a second,
it was starting to get a bit silly.

He started raising troops and causing
Henry as much trouble as possible.

And that was his undoing.

In 1106, Robert's armies
clashed with Henry's armies

at a great battle in Normandy.

Robert was defeated and he was captured

and his younger brother decided
to put him out of the way for good.

That didn't mean death, but the
alternative was still pretty bad.

Henry locked Robert up
and threw away the key.

At first, Robert was imprisoned
in the West country.

But after 20 years of that, in 1126,
he was brought here to Cardiff Castle.

By now, he was in his 70's.

But he still had nearly another decade
of captivity ahead of him.

In 1134, when he was an extraordinary
80 years old,

Robert Curthose died
still imprisoned here in Cardiff Castle.

Now, as the son of one king
and the brother of another,

he would've been in fairly
luxurious conditions.

This was more like house arrest
than being locked in a dungeon.

He spent his time here at Cardiff Castle
learning the local language,

and at least one poem in Welsh
has traditionally been attributed to him.

That includes the line, "Woe to him
that is not old enough to die."

I think that's an incredibly
poignant insight,

into the mind of a man who saw far more
of the inside of Norman castles

than he'd have ever wanted to.

Robert Curthose wouldn't be the last enemy
of the King of England

to see out his days in Cardiff Castle,

but few of them would die
in their beds of old age.

Instead, many suffered violent
and painful ends

as Cardiff Castle entered an era
of executions and bloody rebellions.

During the 12th and 13th centuries,

Cardiff's defenses
were constantly beefed up.

The castle on the hill would've been
connected to the southern gatehouse

by a huge wall which split the courtyard
known as the bailey, in two.

In the early 14th century,

Cardiff Castle passed into the hands
of a family of English nobles

called the Despensers.

Under this family,
the castle became a feared symbol

of English power and authority,
and Hugh Despenser, the Younger,

proved to be one of the most merciless,
blood-thirsty and hated men

in the whole of Welsh history.

Hugh Despenser was
a ruthless, ambitious favorite

of England's deeply
unpopular king, Edward II,

who came to the throne in 1307.

Despenser used his influence with the king

to build up a massive power base
here in South Wales during the 1320's.

He took the title Lord of Glamorgan
which gave him control of Cardiff Castle.

And from here, he exercised a reign
of terror, tyranny, and corruption

that would eventually
shake the whole kingdom.

One of his first acts of diabolical
violence and flagrant injustice

took place right here
in the castle grounds.

Despenser was despised throughout England

because of his influence over
the foolish King Edward.

But he was especially loathed
in South Wales.

One of his most despicable acts
involved a local Welsh hero

called Llywelyn Bren.

In 1316, bad weather had devastated crops

and famine was ravaging
the people of Wales.

Provoked by the hardship all around him,

Bren, a local Welsh Lord,
rose in revolt against the King.

Soon, his rebellion was spreading
across all of South Wales.

When Edward II learned
about Bren's rising,

he sent 2000 men into Wales to crush him.

Now, this was a spectacular show
of military force.

And Bren soon realized, the only sensible
option was to head,

quite literally, for the hills,
these hills,

the rugged and wingswept, Brecon Beacons.

But even that wasn't enough.

With English troops approaching
from two directions,

on March, 1316, Llywelyn Bren surrendered.

Bren's one condition was that
he alone should be punished.

Now, that impressed his English captors.

They thought it
was a great display of chivalry.

Several high ranking English Lords
asked the King to pardon him,

but it didn't work out that way.

In 1318, two years after he was captured,

Bren was transferred to Cardiff Castle,

and he fell into the hands
of Hugh Despenser.

This was a disaster for Bren,

because once he'd gotten
back to his stronghold,

it became clear that
the vengeful Despenser

had no interest in letting Bren go free.

In fact, he wanted him dead to send
a message to his rival English lords

who'd spoken up in Bren's favor.

To flex his muscles and assert his power.

Despenser's influence with the King
was so great,

that no one could stand in his way.

Without the benefit of a fair trial
with a total disregard for justice,

he declared Bren a traitor

and sentenced him to be hanged,
drawn and quartered.

This was a terrible way
for an honorable man to go.

Dragged through the streets
behind a horse,

choked with a noose,
and disemboweled while still alive.

It was one of the slowest, most savage,
and agonizing deaths imaginable.

With a taste for blood,
and an iron grip on the King,

very soon Despenser,
the Master of Cardiff Castle,

wasn't just terrorizing South Wales,

he held sway over the whole kingdom.

For the next four years, he would be
the power behind Edward II's throne.

But eventually, his evil deeds
came back to bite him.

Despenser's influence had estranged
the King from his wife,

Queen Isabella, who was in self-imposed
exile in France.

Now, the Queen teamed up with another
mighty Baron from the Welsh borders

called Roger Mortimer.

Together, they launched
an invasion of England

overthrew the unpopular king,
and put Despenser in prison.

He was sentenced
to the same horrific death

that he inflicted on Bren,

to be hanged, drawn and quartered.

It was said that when he was imprisoned,
he attempted to starve himself to death.

But there was to be no escape.

Here at Reading University,

there's grizzly evidence that may
help us to understand

the savagery of death
the Despensers suffered.

Mary, where do this bones come from?

So, they were discovered
at Hulton Abbey in Staffordshire

when they were excavated
inside of the church.

JONES: Why do we think these might
be the remains of Hugh Despenser?

So the bones we have c14 dating,
so, they date around 1300's.

And there were very few candidates,
if this was hung, drawn and quartered,

for that practice during that time.

One was Hugh Despenser.
So, I contacted the archivist

in charge of the Abbey
and the burials there.

The archivist responded
that Hugh Despenser,

he had been executed and his wife
petitioned for his head

and few vertebra, and one of his
thigh bone, and it took me a few minutes

to realize that the elements
in the skeleton that I was missing

on my individual work is head,

his thigh bone and some vertebra

and it just seemed too much of
a coincidence, really, not to be true.

But probably the most
obvious thing that we see

one of the neck vertebra at the top,

and there's a clean cut mark
straight through the vertebra.

And this is a very clear sign
of beheading.

If we move down the spine,

-these are just higher up in his chest...

...vertebra, and they have been sliced

-down the middle, straight across...
-I see. Yeah. sword or an ax.

So it's as if somebody has been cut

-this way vertically...
-Yes, yes.

-Down the side of the skeleton.

So when you look at this vertebrae
in particular, if you turn it over,

there's also a very clean slice

across the middle,
so he's been cut this way

-and cut that way, so he's been quartered.

So he would have been alive when he was
being dragged by the back of the horse.

And then, he would have been
put on the ladder

and he would have not been hanged the way
we think of hanging.

He would've actually been choked,

so that he would've been alive
when they were eviscerating him.

And, probably, he only died
when they took him down from the ladder

and then they beheaded him.

So, it was a very political execution,
a very public execution.

So all the evidence is pointing towards
this being the skeleton

of Hugh Despenser.

I think there's a weight of evidence
to suggest this is Hugh Despenser, yes.

JONES: Hugh Despenser is remembered
as brutal and evil,

but also for reaping what he sowed.

This stained glass window in the castle

shows him with his coat
of arms upside down.

It's a sign of disgrace and shame.

With Despenser's gruesome death,

one of the most violent periods in
the history of Cardiff Castle had ended.

But in the coming centuries,

the castle's defenses would
be tested to their limit

by some of the bloodiest rebellions
in British history.



By the 14th century, Cardiff Castle
had come to symbolize

the power of English Kings
over the people of Wales.

That power was wielded
by the lords of Cardiff Castle

such as the cruel and corrupt
Hugh Despenser.

As a result, the castle was always
a natural target for rebellion.

At the start of the 15th century,

the last great Welsh rising
against the English crown began.

The Welsh national hero Owain Glyndwr
claimed the title Prince of Wales

and led a violent revolt
against King Henry IV.

By 1483, Glyndwr and his men
burned the city of Cardiff

and placed the castle under siege.

Eventually, the castle
running out of food,

down to its last 24 cannonballs

and a few bags of gun powder,
they surrendered.

But not before it had been badly damaged.

It was a stunning victory
for Glyndwr and the rebels.

The English were humiliated, and although
they eventually regained the castle,

it took years for Henry IV

to subdue Glyndwr's rebellions
across South Wales.

But when order was restored,
the English took terrible revenge.

The English passed a series of laws
called the penal laws

which stripped the native Welsh
off their legal rights.

Welshmen were forbidden to carry weapons,
own properties in English towns,

speak their own language,
or hold public office.

This was a form of apartheid.

If you were within this castle's walls,
you had personal rights.

If you were outside, you barely had any.

The draconian laws that followed
the defeat of Glyndwr's rebellion

may have been harsh and repressive,

but they did succeed in subduing
the population of Wales

and a period of relative peace followed.

A succession of aristocratic owners

developed the castle buildings
around the old Norman Keep.

In Tudor times, these new wings
were further expanded.

But by the 17th century,

Cardiff Castle was once more
in the firing line

as a new and deadly conflict
began to grip Britain.

In 1642, increasingly bitter hostilities

between King Charles I and his enemies
in parliament

erupted into a civil war
that tore Britain in half.

The King's supporters, cavaliers,

battled the parliamentary army,
the roundheads,

led by Oliver Cromwell.

At stake was the whole system
of British government.

Should the country be ruled
by headstrong kings

or a dangerously radical parliament?

During this long struggle,

Cardiff Castle was besieged several times.

It was held first by the parliamentarians
and then by the royalists.

As fighting with canon and guns
spilled into the streets around it,

the castle was badly damaged.

And no wonder,

gun powder was now being used extensively,

and it changed the nature of warfare.

Canons could wreck the castle walls

and defenders and attackers alike
were using small arms called muskets.

To get a taste
for this new form of warfare

which challenged
Cardiff Castle's defenses,

I've come to have a go

at firing a few weapons
from the period myself.

When did muskets
appear on the battlefield?

They took over nearly 17th century

and are the dominant weapons on the
battlefield until the 19th century.

We've got some muskets here.
They all look very different.

This is a matchlock,
which is the most common type.

It's mass produced,
and it fires with a piece of match

held at the serpent mechanism here.

This is a wheel lock.

It's more expensive
and therefore rarer than the matchlock

and has a flint
in the firing mechanism here

which does the firing for you.

And this is a carbine, this a cut down
version of the flintlock.

Really useful for cavalry,
'cause you can take it by your saddle

and dismount and fire with it.

And what do they all fire?

They fire lead balls,

like, this is an actual
civil war musket ball

and you see,
it's half an inch across, solid lead.

When it hits you,
the entry wound's half an inch across.

The lead will then spread out
and impact with your body.

So the exit wound on the far side of you

is going to be about
six inches across, maximum.

You're gonna have a horrible death.
Even the guns are dangerous.

They are totally inaccurate.

JONES: Well, I think we should
have a go at firing them.

Let's go for it. I suggest you have this.

-Thank you very much indeed.
-The up market version.

Yes, it feels very smart.

I'll take the heavy, ponderous,
more dangerous one.


Colin, you're the man who's gonna
make sure we don't blow ourselves up.

Hopefully. Hopefully,
don't blow yourselves up.

Well, talk me through
how this musket works.

This is a wheel lock.

And you've got to put in the main charge

which is one measure of gun powder.

-Goes down the barrel?
-Goes down in the barrel, that's it.

Right. So now,
this gun is full of gun powder

and I'm slightly more scared than I was.

Oh, you have every reason to be, sir.

I'm gonna give you that.

-Take a bit of wadding...

-Put it right there in the gun.


And this is the ramrod.

-This is the ramrod.
-Ramrod straight.

-Mmm. So I do know a bit.

This isn't gonna blow up
when I do this, is it?

-(LAUGHS) Let's see.
-Let's see.

-Tell my wife I love her.
-That'll do.

-Good. Replace the ramrod.

And that gun is now ready to go.

Keep it away from your face.
Don't point it at anybody.

So, I take the key and give it

-a bit of a turn.

There we are.

Are we about to give fire?

To your front, present, gentlemen.

-What does that mean?
-It means point it.

Point it.


Give fire!


-I think it fired.
-It did fire.

I heard something.

-And mine fell out.

I'm dead.

You want to try touch firing
if I hold the barrel for you.


Give him fire.




JONES: After the battering it took
in the Civil War,

Cardiff Castle was lucky
to be left standing.

The keep on the hill was badly damaged.

And it might've decayed
into obscurity and ruin,

but for a wedding that changed
the fortunes, not only of the castle,

but of the whole of Cardiff.

In 1766, an heiress
called Charlotte Jane Windsor,

daughter of an aristocrat and MP
and the heir to Cardiff Castle

married a wealthy Scottish land owner,
Lord Mount Stuart,

the man who had been better known
as the first Marquess of Bute.

Together, they set about transforming
the castle that Charlotte had inherited

into a comfortable Georgian mansion.

They employed the most famous
landscape designer of the day

Lancelot Capability Brown,

to redevelop the castle and its gardens.

Brown infuriated many locals when
he demolished the massive bailey wall

and swept away a number
of ancient historic buildings

to create a sweeping
English landscape garden.

The Marquess of Bute also transformed
the town around the castle.

And it all started with coal.

By the 19th century, the Welsh valleys

became studded with steel works
and coal mines.

Like this one known as the big pit.

Coal was the super fuel
of the industrial revolution.

All the new technology was powered
by steam, and to make steam

you need coal and plenty of it.

As well as owning Cardiff Castle,

the Bute family owned vast tracts of land

here in South Wales.

In the early 19th century,
it was discovered

that all this land was lying
on top of rich seams of coal.

The second Marquess of Bute
quickly realized

just how valuable the coal could be
and he exploited it to its fullest,

changing Cardiff and its castle forever.

The Bute family made Cardiff Castle
and the city around it what it is today.

And to turn all that coal into hard cash,
someone had to dig it out of the ground.

Everything the Butes created

was based on the hard labor
of local people.

And the best place to see it
is quite literally at the coalface

at the bottom of this mine.

How long has this mine been here?

How long have people
been coming up and down?

Well, a shaft was first sunk in 1860,
not quite to the bottom.

In 1880, they made the hole
a little bit deeper

to where we go into today,
right in the bottom.

So the men have been coming down
this shaft for what, 120, 130 years?

-Yeah, yeah.
-Maybe more, okay.

Right, welcome to the bottom.

-Here we are.
-Ninety meters underground, 90 meters.

-Can you turn your light on for me?

-Of course, yeah.

So how many miles of tunnels are there?

We reckon up to 26 miles of roadway.

When I was a kid, my grandparents
used to bring me here

and it's still incredibly atmospheric
to be down in these tunnels.

What you really get when
you're here is the sense that

this was hard, brutal, back-breaking work.

It was hot, it was dangerous.
In the 19th century,

there was a precious little legislation
to protect the people,

men, women and children
as young as five years old

who were toiling away in these tunnels.

But what you've also got to remember

is that the painstaking work dragging coal
out of here, up to the surface,

is what turned Cardiff
into an industrial powerhouse

and made the Bute family of Cardiff Castle

one of the wealthiest families
in the world.

All that coal and iron
from the valleys needed to be exported

to markets around the world.

So the second Marquess of Bute
built Cardiff docks

and transformed the town into
one of the biggest ports in the world.

Bute's ambitious development led to a boom
in the city's industry and population

during the middle of the 19th century.

The population of Cardiff exploded
from less than 2000 in 1801

to 150,000 a century later.

By 1880, Cardiff had transformed
from a small town

into one of the world's busiest ports

with its docks
handling more traffic than New York.

With the vast wealth they accrued,
successive generations of Butes

transformed the castle
into a palatial family home.

And soon, Cardiff Castle would become
famous for the extraordinary richness

and opulence of its interiors.

Yet, despite the centuries of peace
and prosperity that Cardiff had enjoyed,

its castle would be called once more
into military service.

Fortifications originally built
in the 11th century

would be tested by 20th century invaders,

the Nazis.

From the earliest times,
Cardiff Castle kept watch

over the bad lands of Wales,

keeping the unruly natives in check.

Under the Tudors, the walls were
strengthened and extended.

Then a family of Scottish nobles,
the Butes,

not only embellished these buildings,

they redeveloped the docks,

transforming Cardiff from a small town
on the edge of a fortress

into a major modern city.

In 1865, John, the third Marquess Bute,

reputed to be one
of the richest men in the world,

decided to give Cardiff Castle a makeover.

He asked the architect William Burges

to produce a report
on the state of the castle

with a view to refurbishing it
on a grand scale.

The report was one of the most important
documents in this castle's history.

Turning an old fortress into one of
the most extraordinary gothic palaces

in the whole of Britain.

This is a pretty incredible room.
Which part of the castle are we in here?

MATTHEW WILLIAMS: We're in the clock tower
which is the first part of the tower

to be done as part of a rebuild.

The theme is one of time,
and if you start looking at the ceiling,

you will see the signs
of the zodiac up there

and each of the four seasons.

JONES: What was this room used for?

This one is called
the winter smoking room.

So, you'd think, you know,
they would come in here

for cigarettes, and cigars,
and port after dinner.

Lord Bute experimented with drug tobacco
and William Burges smoked opium.

But that wasn't unusual for Victorian
artists and designers.

But it would explain
a lot of the design in this.

Well, it's very easy to run away

with the idea of this
being an opium induced fantasy.

I think that's overstating it. It isn't.

But, certainly,
it's that period of imagination and dreams

and Lewis Carroll
and all that sort of thing.

And they just don't know where to stop
because every surface is covered.

So whose room is it
that has mirrors all over the ceiling?

Yeah, I'm afraid you can't miss them,
can you? This is Lord Bute's bedroom.

Bit of a puny bed, isn't it?

It is a single bed as you can see.

But, actually, this was more
of a dressing room than a bedroom.

Oh, this must've cost a fortune.

Lord Bute had a fortune.

He had an income of about
£300,000 a year.

This is in the 1860's.

I mean, millions and millions of pounds.

But he was using industrial money
to put black gold, coal,

-into real gold on the ceiling.

JONES: Bute was creating a pleasure palace

incorporating all of the luxuries
of the day.

There is a wonderful bath,
which of course, is all plumbed in.

There's a working lavatory here,

one of the earliest
flushing loos in the city.

And, also, other things.
I mean, there was central heating,

in the house, there was electric light.

We were the first house in Wales
to be lit by electric lighting in 1883.

So is this medieval,
but with all the mod-cons?

Yeah, it's seeing the middle ages
by moonlight.

It's a very romanticized idea of the past.

But also making sure that
you are absolutely comfortable.

We're at the top of the castle now.
What was this room used for?

That a good question really,
I don't know. In fact,

I think it's one of those secret worlds

that Lord Bute had at the tops
of so many of these towers.

Little, personal, private spaces
all for himself.

But also reflects his interests.

All over the walls, there's this
incredible religious imagery

with Hebrew writing underneath it.

-Was he particularly a religious man?
-Oh, he was.

He was a Roman Catholic convert,
so he converted when he was 21.

But look at the details
that are pure medieval.

Look at this wonderful fountain.

The water would've come out
of the mouths of these fish

that are being held by beavers.

This is all done with a great zest,

a great imagination,
and a great sense of fun.

Despite the religion, Bute didn't take

the creative process that seriously.
This castle is meant to be enjoyed.

JONES: But in some ways,

it's a miracle that any of
this Victorian splendors survives today.

Because in the 20th century,
a new enemy took aim at Cardiff.

And this enemy threatened to wipe
the city, and the castle, off the map.


In 1939, Britain declared war
on Nazi Germany.

One year later, cities across Britain
suffered devastating bombing raids.

In Cardiff, 33,000 houses were bombed

and almost 400 civilians killed
during the course of the war,

as the Nazis targeted Bute's docks.

That death toll could've been far higher,

but fortunately for the people of Cardiff,
the castle came to the rescue.


This castle's walls were built
to withstand the worst

the middle ages could throw at them.

But when the blitz began in Cardiff,
it was realized

they could probably stand
up to German bombs as well.

Here, in the medieval ramparts,
four entrance holes were cut

leading to a network of tunnels
deep below the rock.

They were close enough to the city center
for people to flee here

when they heard the air-raid siren.
You can still explore them today.

The castle survived the blitz.

Shortly after the war, the fifth
Marquess of Bute inherited the castle.

But with his family fortunes
having declined substantially,

he found himself struggling.

With a heavy heart, he sold off the last
of the family's property in Cardiff

and gave the castle
and the landscape parklands around it

as a gift to the city.

It severed the Bute family's
181 year connection with Cardiff,

but gave the city a lasting legacy.

Wales isn't the wild west anymore.

The only battles fought here today

are on the turf
of the Principality Stadium.

But this fortress
stands as a vivid reminder

of the tenacity, the tirelessness
and the defiance

of the people who used
a castle to make a city.


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