St Donat’s castle in South Wales, the location for Holly and Jack’s wedding last week. The castle sits just west of Cardiff and overlooking the Bristol Channel – the view across to England was a bit misty on the day. It’s a location with a long and curious history. The earliest bits standing date back to the twelfth century (think Norman overlords), with a fair amount of Tudor period buildings and a reputation as one of the most haunted buildings in Britain. But before it’s current occupiers, the Atlantic College (an international sixth-form college), it was it’s ownership in the early twentieth century by the American newspaper magnate, William Randolph Hearst* that had a big impact upon the castle you see today. ( *Think Orson Welles…Rosebud…Citizen Kane. )
After spotting the castle in a copy of Country Life magazine in 1925, he bought the castle and set about ‘restoring’ it. This was a restoration from a certain age and by a certain wealth. A key part of the restoration was the vast hall, the Bradenstoke Hall, where Holly and Jack had their wedding ceremony. A fantastic spot to get married in, it looks like a film set. That’s because it pretty much is. Hearst cut into the big southern curtain wall, adding a fourteenth century roof from an old priory in Wiltshire (Bradenstoke), plus punched in some holes in the curtain wall to add some windows from the priory. Add a couple of fireplaces from France, a slight adjustment to the inner curtain wall, build a big wall to the east and voilà, you have a grand medieval hall. Still, it looks good.
Back to the wedding day….Holly got ready with her bridesmaids and mother across the courtyard from the ceremony. Snooping out of the window, watching the guests arrive, was a constant distraction. When Holly’s dad came to escort her across the courtyard, it would the start of long struggle for him to hold his emotions in check. Actually the groom, Jack, was the same. The nervous looking bride as she got ready, was all smiles during the ceremony! 🙂
Drinks and ice cream then followed on the upper terrace overlooking the sea. A lower lawn is laid out as a Tudor ‘beast’ garden with some of the creepiest statues you’ll see of lions, griffins, unicorns and even antelopes. Then it was back into the Great Hall at St Donat’s castle for the meal, speeches and dancing.
Here are a few images from the day….
Holly and Jack found my details days after winning both the wedding category and overall title at the Professional Photographer of the Year awards last year. So it was kind of amusing when I went to introduce myself to the registrar conducting the wedding ceremony. Her first words, “So, have you done weddings before?” as her colleague chortled…..I so love registrars!