Back in June I attended the 10 k race in Caerphilly. I didn’t participate, but observed and cheered-on the 2,000 brave souls who ran around Caerphilly. It was a glorious day and Caerphilly Castle looked magnificent.
I am not often prone to name-dropping, but I must tell you that some time ago I had a brief conversation with a member of the Royal Family. When I was asked where I was from I answered “Caerphilly; famous for its cheese and its wonderful castle”. “Oh yes”, was the reply “but it’s not as big as Windsor Castle”. In response, I said, “OK, but Caerphilly is a proper castle because it’s concentric”. That was the end of the conversation.
The purpose of me telling this little story is to make the point that those of us who live in Caerphilly often take our castle for granted. It was of course built by the Marcher Lord Gilbert de Clare in the thirteenth century and was rebuilt by the Marquis of Bute.
Today, it attracts 100,000 visitors who travel from far and wide. A priority for the town and the Borough must be to ensure that many of these visitors do not simply visit the castle and then go home. We need to do all we can to encourage those visitors to venture out into town and the Borough more widely. The local economy could certainly do with this additional spending.
I would also like to make a radical suggestion. Back in the Middle Ages most castles, including Caerphilly, were whitewashed. Today, Caerphilly Castle stands out because of its location and its sheer majesty. But wouldn’t it stand out even more if it were whitewashed, just as it was back in the thirteenth century?
To the best of my knowledge, there isn’t a castle anywhere in Britain which has been ‘restored’ in this way. As it is, Caerphilly is a wonderful castle, but just imagine what it might look like if it stood out against the summer sun and the lush greenery of Caerphilly’s basin rim if it were resplendent in its original white. Surely, worth thinking about?
This article was written for Local View.