Monday, November 26, 2007

The plight of Ruperra highlighted in 'Country Life' Magazine

A very welcome article in Country Life magazine on November 22 by Marcus Binney, a journalist specialising in historical architecture. Ruperra Castle has been chosen for the main frontispiece picture in the magazine's article. I have extracted the text and put it below.

"In Wales, indeed in Britain, nothing quite rivals the desperate plight of Ruperra Castle (Fig 1). Like Lulworth in Dorset, this perfectly embodies Elizabethan and Jacobean ideas of chivalry and romance. But one corner tower has collapsed, another is badly cracked. The cost of repair and reconstruction was recently costed at £7.5 million, considerably more than could be realised from the eight apartments it would neatly convert into. A determined local authority would have served a repairs order long ago. The present owner is seeking to raise funds by building what amounts to a village on 20 acres beside the house. Cadw, however, could not reasonably approve this development in the shadow of a Grade I listed building. It is hard to see how this tragic case can be resolved without a determined lead from the Welsh Assembly.

Ruperra is Grade II* not Grade I, but it seems very significant that the writer with his vast knowledge of houses in Britain, considers it to be in the Grade I category.

The late Dr Giles Worsley wrote an article in Country Life entitled ‘On the Ruins of Ruperra’ in 1986, when he explained the uniqueness of Ruperra in the historical architecture of Wales.

“Somehow country houses have been seen to lack a Welshness that would make them culturally respectable. The RCAHM publication of the ‘Greater Houses of Glamorgan ‘ in 1981 showed how false that idea was and how incorrect it is to believe that Wales lacked architecturally important houses. The 16th and early 17th centuries are perhaps the most fascinating years in the history of these houses when Welsh tradition and English influences clashed. At Ruperra we see the triumph of court based architectural ideals, but the result is a house still marked by local tradition, a house that can be read as part of the Elizabethan and Jacobean revival of chivalry, but that gains added value in a country of castles, where many of the great houses of its day were still semi fortified, little influenced by the Renaissance.”

Ruperra is a magic place especially when approached from the urban sprawl of the coastal plain. The other great Morgan House, Tredegar House on the outskirts of Newport, was saved when it was on the brink and is now one of the great sites of South Wales. Ruperra, ruined but in unspoilt country, is its natural complement. The people of South Wales deserve to have it saved.”

Further news soon.

Free Hit Counters
Free Counter