07 August 2010

The Myddeltons, the Red Hand Gang

Roger Mortimer built the earliest parts of Chirk Castle, overlooking the Ceiriog Valley, in 1295. One Thomas Myddelton bought Chirk in 1595 for £5,000; and the castle remained in the family's hands right through to 2004. The best approach is from the baroque iron gates of 1719-21, fabricated by Robert and John Davies of Croesfoel Forge, near Wrexham. These were originally placed between screen walls in front of the present castle entrance; and were relocated to their present position in 1888. The long drive up to the castle is lined with both mature (some with giant burls) and, pleasingly, young, oaks.

In the early nineteenth century the interior was breathed upon by Gothic Revivalist Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin, whose extensive list of work includes the interior of Charles Barry's Palace of Westminster. Much of his work at Chirk was obliterated in the twentieth century. Pugin's luxuriously exotic, even erotic, richness of design can however be seen not far away, in Staffordshire, across which he built numerous churches, convents and schools for local patron, John Talbot, 16th Earl of Shrewsbury.

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