Cardigan Castle, Cardigan

Grade I listed ancient monument that was home to the first Eisteddfod in 1176.

Cardigan Castle is prominently situated above the River Teifi and is a key historic building within the heart of the town. It was the birthplace of the first National Eisteddfod (in 1176) and so is central to the history of Wales.  

The site has a long and complex past. Although a fortification was built here in the 11th century, most of the surviving medieval fabric dates from a major rebuild in the mid-13th century.

In the early 17th century it was recorded as a ruin but by the early 19th century it was under new ownership and the elegant villa Castle Green House was built, incorporating the north tower of the medieval castle. At around the same time the Regency gardens were laid out. However, by the 1980s the house was uninhabitable and part of the curtain wall had collapsed. 

The building’s bad condition and historical importance prompted Ceredigion County Council to purchase it in 2003. We established a working partnership between both the Council and the Cadwgan Building Preservation Trust (a local trust made up of volunteers) and helped to develop a proposal to rescue the Castle and open it up for public access to help regenerate Cardigan.  

We built the capacity of Cadwgan Building Preservation Trust, supported fundraising, led a planning day with stakeholders and a governance workshop, assisted in commissioning the options appraisal and wrote the conservation management plan. 

In March 2011 the Heritage Lottery Fund granted the project £4.7m towards the repair and adaptive reuse of the Castle and its grounds. This was further boosted by £4.3m from the European Regional Development Fund, £460,000 from Cadw and £600,000 from the Community Asset Transfer Fund. Repairs began in 2012 and, most importantly, in 2013 we removed the unsightly stanchions that had for so long blighted the view of the Castle from the river. 

Work has also now started on Ty Castell and Castle Green Cottages. When Cardigan Castle opens in April 2015 it will incorporate visitor facilities, teaching space for Welsh language courses, a restaurant, holiday cottages, Eisteddfod garden and workshops. The Castle enterprise has created many jobs and offered training opportunities during the repair works. Cardigan Castle is indeed one of the most significant heritage regeneration projects in Wales.