Great Hall, Caerphilly Castle

Great Hall, Caerphilly Castle


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Caerphilly Castle: £5m makeover announced by Cadw

Cadw said the work would include a "dramatic" transformation of the medieval Great Hall, a new visitor centre and shop refurbishment.

A new interpretation service and state-of-the art digital technology are also planned for the 13th Century monument.

Meanwhile, National Lottery Heritage Fund has announced a £1.5m grant for two projects - Flat Holm Island off Cardiff and a monument on Anglesey.

Cadw, the Welsh government's historic environment service, said the work at Caerphilly Castle would be carried out over three years.

Caerphilly Castle is Wales' largest and commonly cited to be the second largest castle in Britain after Windsor Castle.

Preliminary works at the 30-acre site will begin this month and include ground investigations - archaeologists from Wessex Archaeology will ensure no important archaeological remains are affected by the proposals.

Cadw said the new interpretation and "state-of-the art" digital technology would "bring to life its former glory".

In 2018, a dragons' lair was unveiled at the castle to mark its 750th anniversary.


Site of Castle Cinema, Caerphilly

Site of Castle Cinema, Market Street

The offices of Brinsons estate agents stand on the site of the Castle Cinema, once a popular institution for Caerphilly residents.

The cinema was built in 1913, providing more than 800 seats. It was badly damaged by fire on 3 October 1943. Thirty members of the National Fire Service dealt with the incident and managed to save the projectors, the stage and most of the seating, but a large part of the roof collapsed. Steel and other materials for repairs were scarce, because fighting the Second World War took priority. However, by October 1943 many American soldiers were billeted with families in Caerphilly as part of the build-up of people and equipment for the D-Day landings in 1944, when the Allies began to release France from Nazi occupation.

The Castle Cinema, and the nearby cinema at the Workmen&rsquos Hall, provided the main entertainment for the Americans and local residents. The Castle Cinema was repaired after the manageress, Mrs Bonney, applied to the local authority which agreed to make a priority order, under the wartime regulations, for the materials required.

In December 1976 the controversial punk band The Sex Pistols played at the Castle Cinema. It had arranged a UK tour with other punk groups including The Clash, but most of the gigs were cancelled after local authorities bowed to public pressure. The small audience for The Sex Pistols in Caerphilly was outnumbered by protestors who sang Christmas carols and hymns outside the Castle Cinema. One of the councillors who took part later sent a letter to the band&rsquos manager, Malcolm McLaren, apologising for attempting to tell young people what they should listen to.

The Castle Cinema closed in 1989 and was a snooker club until it was demolished for the site to be redeveloped as offices for Brinsons. The firm was established in Caerphilly in 1900 as chartered surveyors and estate agents, serving the agricultural community as well as mine managers and others associated with local industries. Today it also has an office in Cowbridge, Vale of Glamorgan.


Castle Gould

Howard Gould and his wife, actress Katherine Clemmons, purchased the estate property in 1900 and 1901 Castle Gould was the first of four mansions built here, designed by architect Augustus N. Allen in 1902, modeled after Ireland’s Kilkenny Castle. Completed in 1904, this impressive 100,000-square-foot limestone building was intended to be the main residence on the estate, but, when Katherine decided that it did not suit her, Howard proceeded to build Hempstead House. Castle Gould then served as the stable, carriage house, and servants’ quarters and now houses the Visitor Center, Great Hall, and a 7,000-square-foot New York State-certified sound stage – a.k.a. The Black Box.

The Great Hall is accessed through the rotunda beneath the castle’s massive clock tower. Often used for private events, this space is a fully renovated multi-purpose room with great vaulted ceilings, wrought-iron chandeliers, plush draperies over enormous windows overlooking the Preserve’s grounds and the distant view of the Long Island Sound.

Castle Gould is not open for tours, but the Welcome Center & Gift Shop and rest rooms are located under the clock tower. Many fitness classes (including After School Yoga), family nature programs, and cultural events take place inside its Great Hall.


Great Hall, Caerphilly Castle - History

'Castle' class details, 100 A1 - 4099

100 A1 or 100 A1 Lloyds. Originally re-built as 4009 Shooting Star from 'Star' class engine of same name and number, April 1925. First shed allocation Plymouth Laira. Renamed and numbered January 1936. Last shed allocation Old Oak Common. Withdrawn May 1950.

111 Viscount Churchill. Built using parts of 111 The Great Bear , September 1924. First shed allocation Old Oak Common. August 1950 and last shed allocation Plymouth Laira. Withdrawn July 1953.

4000 North Star. Re-built from 'Star' class engine of same name and number, November 1929. First shed allocation Newton Abbot. August 1950 shed allocation Wolverhampton, Stafford Road. Last shed allocation Swansea. Withdrawn May 1957. 2,110,396 miles (850,000 miles as Star engine).

4016 The Somerset Light Infantry (Prince Albert's). Originally re-built as Knight of the Golden Fleece from 'Star' class engine of same name and number, October 1925. First shed allocation Wolverhampton, Stafford Road. Renamed January 1938. August 1950 and last shed allocation Old Oak Common. Withdrawn September 1951.

4032 Queen Alexandra. Re-built from 'Star' class engine of same name and number, April 1926. First and August 1950 shed allocations Plymouth Laira. Last shed allocation Taunton. Withdrawn September 1951.

4037 The South Wales Borderers. Originally re-built as Queen Philippa from 'Star' class engine of same name and number, June 1926. First shed allocation Wolverhampton. Renamed March 1937. August 1950 shed allocation Old Oak Common. March 1959 shed allocation Newton Abbot. Last shed allocation Exeter. Withdrawn September 1962. Scrapped at Cashmore's, Newport December 1962.

4073 Caerphilly Castle. Built August 1923. First shed allocation Old Oak Common. August 1950 shed allocation Bristol, Bath Road. March 1959 and last shed allocation Cardiff Canton. Withdrawn May 1960. Preserved and located at the Science Museum, Kensington, London.

4074 Caldicot Castle. Built December 1923. First shed allocation Old Oak Common. Took part in the GWR - LNER locomotive trials of 1925 against Gresley Class A1 Pacific number 4474 Victor Wild running between Paddington and Portsmouth. August 1950 and March 1959 shed allocations Swansea Landore. Double chimney and 4 row superheater fitted April 1959. Last shed allocation Old Oak Common. Withdrawn May 1963.

4075 Cardiff Castle. Built January 1924. First and 1950 shed allocations Old Oak Common. March 1959 shed allocation Bristol, Bath Road. Last shed allocation Old Oak Common. Withdrawn November 1961.

4076 Carmarthen Castle. Built February 1924. First shed allocation Old Oak Common. August 1950 shed allocation Chester. March 1959 shed allocation Swansea Landore. Last shed allocation Llanelly. Withdrawn February 1963.

4077 Chepstow Castle. Built February 1924. First shed allocation Old Oak Common. August 1950 shed allocation Newton Abbot. March 1959 shed allocation Plymouth Laira. Last shed allocation Bristol, Saint Philip's Marsh. Withdrawn August 1962. Scrapped at Cashmore's, Newport.

4078 Pembroke Castle. Built February 1924. First shed allocation Old Oak Common. August 1950 shed allocation Swansea Landore. March 1959 shed allocation Bristol, Bath Road. Last shed allocation Llanelly. Withdrawn July 1962.

4079 Pendennis Castle. Built February 1924. First shed allocation Old Oak Common. Took part in the GWR - LNER locomotive trials in April and May 1925 against Gresley Class A1 Pacifics running between King's Cross and Doncaster. August 1950 shed allocation Gloucester. March 1959 shed allocation Bristol, Bath Road. Last shed allocation Bristol, Saint Philip's Marsh. Withdrawn May 1964. Acquired for preservation but after working a number a special trains, it was sold in 1977 to the Hamersley Iron Railway, North-Western Australia. Returned to the Didcot Railway Centre in July 2000

4080 Powderham Castle. Built March 1924. First shed allocation Old Oak Common. August 1950 shed allocation Weymouth. Double chimney and 4 row superheater fitted August 1958. March 1959 shed allocation Bristol, Bath Road. Transferred from Cardiff Canton to Cardiff East Dock shed September 1962. Last shed allocation Southall. Withdrawn August 1964.

4081 Warwick Castle. Built March 1924. First shed allocation Old Oak Common. August 1950 shed allocation Swindon. March 1959 shed allocation Bristol, Bath Road. Last shed allocation Carmarthen. Withdrawn January 1963.

4082 Windsor Castle. Built April 1924. First shed allocation Old Oak Common. August 1950 shed allocation Worcester. Renamed and numbered 7013 Bristol Castle February 1952. March 1959 shed allocation Old Oak Common. Last shed allocation Tyseley. Withdrawn September 1964.

4083 Abbotsbury Castle. Built May 1925. First shed allocation Old Oak Common. August 1950 shed allocation Cardiff Canton. March 1959 shed allocation Newton Abbot. Last shed allocation Cardiff Canton.. Withdrawn December 1961.

4084 Aberystwyth Castle. Built May 1925. First shed allocation Plymouth Laira. August 1950 shed allocation Bristol, Bath Road. March 1959 shed allocation Newton Abbot. Last shed allocation Cardiff Canton. Withdrawn October 1960.

4085 Berkeley Castle. Built May 1925. First shed allocation Plymouth Laira. August 1950 shed allocation Reading. March 1959 shed allocation Gloucester. Last shed allocation Old Oak Common. Withdrawn May 1962. Scrapped at Cashmore's, Newport.

4086 Builth Castle. Built June 1925. First shed allocation Plymouth Laira. August 1950 shed allocation Worcester. March 1959 shed allocation Swindon. Last shed allocation Oxford. Withdrawn April 1962. Scrapped at Cashmore's, Newport.

4087 Cardigan Castle. Built June 1925. First and August 1950 shed allocations Plymouth Laira. Double chimney and 4 row superheater fitted February 1958. March 1959 shed allocation Plymouth Laira. Last shed allocation Bristol, Saint Philip's Marsh. Withdrawn October 1963. Scrapped at Cooper Metals, Sharpness.

4088 Dartmouth Castle. Built July 1925. First shed allocation Plymouth Laira. Involved in the incident with 2975 Lord Palmer, 13 November 1942 at Appleford Crossing. August 1950 shed allocation Plymouth Laira. Double chimney and 4 row superheater fitted May 1958. March 1959 shed allocation Worcester. Last shed allocation Bristol, Saint Philip's Marsh. Withdrawn May 1964.

4089 Donnington Castle. Built July 1925. First shed allocation Old Oak Common. August 1950 shed allocation Plymouth Laira. March 1959 shed allocation Worcester. Last shed allocation Reading. Withdrawn September 1964.

4090 Dorchester Castle. Built July 1925. First shed allocation Old Oak Common. August 1950 shed allocation Penzance. Double chimney and 4 row superheater fitted July 1957. March 1959 shed allocation Old Oak Common. Last shed allocation Cardiff East Dock. Withdrawn June 1963.

4091 Dudley Castle. Built July 1925. First shed allocation Old Oak Common. August 1950 shed allocation Bristol, Bath Road. Last shed allocation Old Oak Common. Withdrawn January 1959.

4092 Dunraven Castle. Built August 1925. First shed allocation Old Oak Common. August 1950 shed allocation Worcester. March 1959 shed allocation Reading. Last shed allocation Oxford. Withdrawn December 1961.

4093 Dunster Castle. Built May 1926. First shed allocation Old Oak Common. August 1950 shed allocation Bristol, Bath Road. Double chimney and 4 row superheater fitted December 1957. March 1959 shed allocation Swansea Landore. Last shed allocation Gloucester. Withdrawn September 1964.

4094 Dynevor Castle. Built May 1926. First shed allocation Old Oak Common. August 1950 shed allocation Cardiff Canton. March 1959 shed allocation Swansea Landore. Last shed allocation Carmarthen. Withdrawn March 1962.

4095 Harlech Castle. Built June 1926. First shed allocation Plymouth Laira. August 1950 shed allocation Swansea Landore. March 1959 shed allocation Penzance. Last shed allocation Reading. Withdrawn December 1962.

4096 Highclere Castle. Built June 1926. First shed allocation Plymouth Laira. August 1950 shed allocation Bristol, Bath Road. March 1959 shed allocation Old Oak Common. Last shed allocation Llanelly. Withdrawn January 1963.

4097 Kenilworth Castle. Built June 1926. First shed allocation Old Oak Common. August 1950 shed allocation Plymouth Laira. Double chimney and 4 row superheater fitted June 1958. March 1959 and last shed allocation Swansea Landore. Withdrawn May 1960.

4098 Kidwelly Castle. Built July 1926. First shed allocation Old Oak Common. August 1950 and March 1959 shed allocations Newton Abbot. Last shed allocation Old Oak Common. Withdrawn December 1963. Scrapped at Cashmore's, Great Bridge.

4099 Kilgerran Castle. Built August 1926. First shed allocation Old Oak Common. August 1950 shed allocation Newton Abbot. March 1959 shed allocation Swansea Landore. Last shed allocation Llanelly. Withdrawn September 1962.


Great Hall, Caerphilly Castle - History

4073 'Castle' class introduction

Running numbers 4073 to 7037.

Built 1923-24 (4073 - 4082) to lot number 224,
1925 (4083 - 4092) to lot number 232,
1926-27 (4093 - 4099, 5000 - 5012) to lot number 234,
1932 (5013 - 5022) to lot number 280,
1934 (5023 - 5032) to lot number 295,
1935 (5033 - 5042) to lot number 296,
1936-37 (5043 - 5067) to lot number 303,
1938-39 (5068 - 5082) to lot number 310,
1937-40 (5083 - 5092) rebuilt from 'Star' class locomotives to lot number 317,
1939 (5093 - 5097) to lot number 324,
1946 (5098 - 5099, 7000 - 7007) to lot number 357,
1948-49 (7008 - 7027) to lot number 367,
1950 (7028 - 7037) to lot number 375.

F lashing green, brass and copper, the Great Western's 'Star' Class 4-6-0 four-cylinder express passenger engines, designed by the company's Locomotive, Carriage and Wagon Superintendent G. J. Churchward and his team of engineers, were Britain's most successful and economical main-line passenger power from 1907, when the first of the class appeared. Their pre-eminence lasted until 1922, when Nigel Gresley's first Pacific was completed at Doncaster for the Great Northern Railway, which was soon to become part of the London and North Eastern.

On the 4-6-2 Pacific theme, the Great Western's one and only attempt, The Great Bear of 1908, was not technically a failure, but its weight reduced route availability to such an extent that gave little scope for operational research on a one-off locomotive. Chuchward abandoned the notion of Pacifics for Great Western main-line passenger work and concentrated, after experimenting with French-built compound 4-4-2s, on four-cylinder 4-6-0s.

So the 'Star' class, forerunners of the 'Castles', prevailed. They incorporated most of the characteristics of contemporary GWR express passenger locomotive practice and Stars turned out of Swindon works from 1910 onwards were equipped with the Swindon No. 3 superheater that was adopted as standard for many hundreds of GWR engines. They proved highly efficient in working heavy expresses on the main lines that would take their weight.

The seven years before the outbreak of war in 1914 saw increases in the weights of main-line passenger trains made possible mostly by the introduction of the 'Stars', however, by the time C B Collett took over from Churchward at Swindon in 1921, holiday traffic from London to Devon and Cornwall was demanding heavier trains and the GWR management devoted proportionally more money and resources to West of England services from Paddington than to any other routes.

The late Professor W A Tuplin described the 'Castle' locomotive as a glorified 'Star' especially since the design was based on that engine. The layout of the frame and the spacing of the wheels was the same, but the cylinder diameter was increased from 15 to 16 inches although the boiler pressure remained at 225 pounds per square inch. Initially the large number 7 boiler was planned for the Castle design, but after concerns by the Chief Engineer regarding the maximum of 20 ton axle limit, a new slightly smaller number 8 was introduced. The 'Castle's' tractive effort was 31,625 pounds at 85 per cent boiler pressure compared to the 'Star's' 27,800 pounds, and the 29,835 pounds, also at 85 per cent boiler pressure, of the first Gresley Pacifics of the LNER. The grate area was increased to 29.4 square feet in the 'Castle' from the 27.07 square feet in the 'Star'. The bar-frame bogie was of standard Swindon design and the superheater was the number 3 type as used in the 'Star'. The top-feed device for introducing water into the boiler through the steam so as not to loose heat was of GWR pattern, with a series of trays to cause descent into the boiler in a fine spray.

Much was made in GWR publicity of the 'Castles' roomy cab, with side windows and comfortable seats for the driver and fireman, and a canopy extending rearwards for shelter. The Great Western panache was provided by restoration for the first time after World War I of the copper-capped chimney and polished brass safety-valve cover. The tender attached to the class as originally built was the standard low-sided tender taking six tons of coal and 3500 gallons of water. The 'Castles' average coal consumption was one of the lowest in the country (2.83 pounds per drawbar horsepower per hour compared to a 4 pounds consumption figure common for the other railways in the 1920s), but the standard tender was changed for a 4000 gallon design that emerged in 1926.

In 1927,only three years after the first 'Castle' was completed at Swindon, there appeared the first of the 'King' Class four-cylinder locomotives. The 'King' had a tractive effort of 40,300 pounds and yet was still in the 'Star' and 'Castle' tradition. One main object of the 'Kings' was to cut journey times, for example, of the Cornish Riviera between Paddington and Plymouth to four hours flat. But the 'Kings' suffered from restricted route availability because of their weight, and the 'Castles' remained the most useful Great Western express passenger engines. Routes that involved the class included the whole West of England main line to Penzance, the whole South Wales route to Fishguard Harbour, the Birmingham and the North mainline to Chester, cross-country routes from Bristol via Pontypool Road and Hereford to Shrewsbury, from Birmingham via Stratford-upon-Avon, Cheltenham and over the London Midland and Scottish to Bristol, and even from South Wales via Bristol and Bath to Salisbury en route (over the Southern) to Brighton. They could if required stand in for the 'Kings' on the hardest Paddington - Birmingham - Wolverhampton and Paddington - West of England turns. They worked the medium-weight Bristolian non-stop between Paddington and Bristol, which was allowed only 105 minutes each way, 118 miles down via Bath and slightly less up via Badminton. One member of the class, number 5006 Tregenna Castle achieved a record on June 6, 1932, by hauling the up Cheltenham Flyer, at that time the World's fastest train, from Swindon to Paddington in 56 minutes 47 seconds for the 77.3 miles, against a schedule that was normally 65 minutes.

After the initial build of 30 locomotives, numbers 4073 to 4099 and 5000 to 5012, there followed a gap of 5 years before the next batch of Castle's were built. These locomotives built in 1932 as numbers 5013 to 5022 had various improvements over the earlier engines sufficient to be known as the '5013' class. Improvements included a compartment situated between the centre and trailing wheel splashers on the left-hand side to accomodate the fireirons - first trialed on number 4085 Berkeley Castle and changes to the locomotive springing and inside valve chest design. The largest change however was to the boiler and firebox area.

In the original Castle class design to achieve the maximum possible heating surface of the firebox and grate area, the water space between the inner and outer fireboxes had been made narrower than previous standards. This however created problems to effectively clean this gap on boiler washouts. In the '5013' class, this space was increased to normal standards, together with a reduction in the grate area from 30.3 square feet to 29.4 square feet, together with the number of small tubes were decreased from 201 to 197. This reduction did not have any adverse effect on the steaming performance as it was normal practce to run with a deep fire built up in 'hay-cock' fashion, and rather than pure grate area, it was the ability to burn coal economically that gave the Great Western locomotives their qualities.

An important improvement was made to the next batch of Castle's from number 5023 onwards. At Swindon and in common with many other railways companies, locomotive alignment between the frames, cylinders and axles box guides was made by using wires, trammels and a centre prop.As the performance and reliability of a locomotive greatly depend on this alignment, the German State Railways began use of the Zeiss optical alignment gear and after modification to the Great Western locomitves, it was use for all new builds and repaired lomotives. In addition, due to the exacting dimensions that this achieved, valve gear tolerances could be greatly reduced to the absolute minimum when new, so much so that an ex-Great Western man, when reviewing the manufacturing practices of other railway companies, remarked "We scrap at the amount of clearance that they start with". Many observers noted that this batch of Castle's when newly out-shopped ran with the quietness of a sewing machine.

Castle class builds from number 5033 of 1935 incorporated for the first time a speedometer. As this year would also mark the 100-year celebrations of the Great Western, certain Board members had noted that America and German locomotives began to sport streamlining to reduce the air resistance on their high speed workings. The details of Collett's modifications to Castle class number 5005 Manorbier Castle and King Class number 6014 King Henry VII are contained on a seperate page. In 1937 it was decided to transfer the 'Earl' names from the 4-4-0 Dukedog or Earl class to Castle numbers 5043 to 5063 and details of the names are given in the locomotive details lists. In addition, it was decided that the last ten members of the Star class, affectionately known as Abbeys, would be rebuilt as Castles with number 4063 Bath Abbey becoming 5083, 4064 Reading Abbey becoming 5084 and so on with 4072 Tresco Abbey becoming 5092. After the Battle of Britain in 1940, twelve Castle's, numbers 5071 to 5082, were renamed in honour of the types of aircraft that flew in the Battle.

After the Second World War, and indeed after nationalisation in 1948, 'Castles' continued to be turned out by Swindon works. The later engines were of a slightly modified design by F W Hawksworth with the larger straight-sided all-welded tender, and some Castles were fitted with larger superheaters, double blastpipes and chimneys. The last of the 171 'Castles', which included 15 members of the 'Star class rebuilt as 'Castles' and the rebuild of the only Great Western Pacific The Great Bear , was number 7037 and was named Swindon by HRH Princess Elizabeth (as she then was) on a visit to Swindon works in 1950.

Just eight members of the class have been saved and they are numbers 4073 Caerphilly Castle, 4079 Pendennis Castle, 5029 Nunney Castle, 5043 Earl of Mount Edgcumbe, 5051 Earl Bathurst, 5080 Defiant, 7027 Thornbury Castle, and 7029 Clun Castle.


King Arthurs Great Halls, Tintagel

HERITAGE RATING:

HERITAGE HIGHLIGHTS: Stunning Arts and Crafts stained glass

Tales of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table are inextricably linked to the Cornish village of Tintagel. Some tales say that Arthur was born at Tintagel, others that Tintagel Castle was in fact, his citadel of Camelot. A cavern at the base of the cliffs is known as Merlin's Cave.

In 1927 an avid student of Arthurian legend, Frederick Thomas Glasscock, founded the Order of the Fellowship of the Knights of the Round Table. His idea was to promote Christian values and the ideals of chivalry as expressed in the tales of King Arthur. Glasscock was a London businessman who retired to Tintagel, where he immersed himself in the Arthurian tales that resonate so strongly with this area of Cornwall. Glasscock was a resident of Tintagel, living at 'Eirenikon', which he had built himself.

In the early 1930s, he began to build a new headquarters for the Order on Fore Street. The building was an extension of Trevena House, itself standing on the site of the former Market Hall and Town Hall. The building was made from local materials, and it has been estimated that 53 different types of Cornish stone were used in its construction. The grey granite exterior gives no hint at the colourful treasures within.

In 1933 the building opened as King Arthurs Great Hall. It now hosts meetings of a Masonic lodge. The original Fellowship of the Knights of The Round Table of King Arthur was revived in 1993 and exists to spread the ideals of Arthurian chivalry, specifically the values of care and consideration for our fellow human beings.

The highlight of the Great Hall is a superb collection of stained glass windows illustrating Arthurian legend. The windows are the work of artist Veronica Whall, a native of Surrey and daughter of Christopher Whall, a leader of the Arts and Crafts Movement. Whall designed 73 windows for the Great Halls, and her work is considered one of the best examples of 20th century Arts and Crafts art and a stunning example of Arthurian illustration.

The centrepiece of the Great Halls is a long, rectangular hall known as the Hall of Chivalry, with a large round table at one end and a dais with a high-backed throne at the other.

The ambulatory passage that runs around the exterior of the Hall is illuminated by small stained glass windows, each depicting the coat of arms of a different Knight of the Round Table. Beside each window is an explanation of the coat of arms and its meaning.

For example, one window shows the reputed coat of arms of Sir Kay, a green hunting horn with a green ribbon. The information sign tells us that Sir Kay was the son of Sir Ector, the adopted father of King Arthur. We are told that Kay was courageous, but given to treating young knights roughly and giving them cruel nicknames. Despite his lack of gentleness, Arthur trusted him utterly and made him seneschal of all England.

On each side of the Hall are nine windows, depicting concepts of spiritual virtues embodied by different knights of the Round Table. Nine windows on each side feature amazing stained glass depicting the means by which each knight was made more perfect.

Every aspect of the Great Hall layout is symbolic and meant to be carefully considered and experienced. The Hall is designed so that visitors enter from darkness and move slowly down the length of the Hall towards the light. Everything at the entrance end is dark, or dimly lit, and the materials are rough and unfinished.

As you move towards the light, more spiritual end of the Hall, the light grows, and materials are lighter and more polished. Lighter varieties of stone appear the closer you get to the far end of the Hall. Beyond the curtain at the far end are symbols of the deepest spiritual experiences of Purity, Light, Loyalty, Faith, Love, and the final achievement of the Holy Grail.

A visit to the Great Halls starts with a laser show held in a sumptuous throne room, adjacent to the main hall, narrated by actor Robert Powell.

Whether you take the tales of King Arthur literally or symbolically, or just enjoyed reading about King Arthur as a child, as I did, the Great Halls are a remarkable experience, unike any other Arthurian attraction I can think of. Though the Halls bills itself as a unique wedding venue, it is much more than that.

I confess that I was dubious when I first heard about the Halls. I suspected that it would prove to be a tacky King Arthur theme park trying to cash in on the enduring popularity of the King Arthur tales to part unsuspecting tourists from their money. I was so very wrong. The Great Hall is a stunning work of art, a unique and wonderful expression of Arts and Crafts workmanship, and well worth a visit.

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About King Arthurs Great Halls
Address: Fore Street, Tintagel, Cornwall, England, PL34 0DA
Attraction Type: Historic Building
Location: In the heart of Tintagel, between the tourist information centre and the castle.
Website: King Arthurs Great Halls
Location map
OS: SX056884
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express

POPULAR POSTS

NEARBY HISTORIC ATTRACTIONS

Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low to exceptional) on historic interest


THE STORY STARTS WITH THE FRASERS

Sir Gilbert Fraser founded the early castle, around 1190. The last Fraser to own Neidpath was Sir Simon. He was known as 'The Patriot', for his astonishing feat of conquering the English in battle three times in one day, at Roslyn Glen. He commanded just 8,000 men, in the face of an English army three times that size. He was executed in London, a year after Sir William Wallace, in 1306. The castle also suffered – being burnt to the ground by the English, leaving Simon’s daughter Mary to inherit a ruin.


HistoryLink.org

The most fabled dancehall in Seattle's history was, ironically, not even located in Seattle. And that odd geographic detail is a defining aspect of the Spanish Castle Ballroom. When constructed in 1931 by its founders, Archie Bacon and Frank Enos, the hall was purposefully situated at Midway -- an area located literally midway between Seattle and Tacoma. That site -- just outside of city limits, on unincorporated county land -- was selected specifically in order to escape those towns' busybody efforts to clamp down on nightlife activities. Taken together, both city codes restricting public dancing and the state's Prohibition laws outlawing alcoholic drinks made for tough times in the entertainment industry.

Mystery and Romance

The Spanish Castle's Grand Opening event drew huge crowds from the populations of both distant towns nevertheless. Some attendees were likely attracted by the big-band sounds of the Frankie Roth Orchestra and the promise of a great new recessed dance floor. Others were simply drawn by the social spectacle.

Some though, must have been curious about the new building itself (located near the corner of old Highway 99, now Pacific Highway S, and the Kent-Des Moines Road). How could they not have been? Designed like some kind of storybook caricature of an ancient Moorish fortress, the building's exotic architectural details -- a stucco structure with neon accents -- successfully evoked mystery and romance and was something of a roadside attraction in and of itself.

With Prohibition's repeal in 1934, the Castle began selling beer. Crowds of dancers continued packing the place. But in 1937 the owners sold off the Castle to a new partnership consisting of M. W. "Wes" Morrill (founder of Kent, Washington's First Bank) and C. L. Knutsen (a local auto dealer).

One thing that remained constant throughout those years was the house band. Roth led his orchestra in weekly shows up through 1942 when he stepped aside and his trombonist, Gordon Greene, took over. Those World War II years proved to be the peak for the Castle -- a time when as many as 2,000 folks attended dances that were necessarily scheduled into shifts to correspond with the labor shifts in war industry factories.

Golden Era of Teen-Dances

The big-band swing dances continued regularly at the Castle up until 1962, but by 1959 their popularity had declined to the point that they were limited to just Saturday nights. Fridays suddenly opened up and thus it was in the fall of 1959 that Seattle''s dominant radio DJ, Pat O'Day, booked the area's most prominent band, the Wailers, to play what would be the very first of countless rock 'n' roll teen dances held at the Castle. And so began the Pacific Northwest's Golden Era of Teen Dances.

By 1961 -- when Morrill sold out to Knutsen -- various DJs like O'Day, John Stone, and Lee Perkins had booked shows into the Castle and early shows there featured such major touring stars as Gene Vincent, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison, Johnny Burnett, Tony Orlando, Freddie Cannon, Ray Stevens, Johnny Rivers, Bobby Vee, Jan & Dean, and Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass. But rock 'n' roll and pop acts weren't the only action and a good number of country acts including national stars like Conway Twitty and Ernest Tubb also made appearances there and locals like Jack Roberts & the Evergreen Drifters, picked, yodeled, and twanged at the Castle regularly for years. (One of Tubb's shows was recorded and recently released on compact disc as The Complete Live 1965 Show.)

Plenty of early local rock 'n' roll bands also got chances to play shows at the Castle, including the Adventurers, the Amazing Aztecs, the Casuals, the Checkers, the Checkmates, the Cut-Ups, the Dynamics, the Frantics, the Playboys, the Sonics, the Statics, the Swags, and the Torments. The Aztecs' singer/keyboardist, Merrilee Rush, was one kid who'd been vastly impressed by the first dance she ever attended there:

The Checkers' guitarist (and future jazz star) Larry Coryell was another player who recalled the excitement of those pioneering days: "I remember gigs at the Spanish Castle with the Checkers backing up Ray Stevens. And another time when we backed up Gene Vincent. It was the thrill of our life to play the Spanish Castle!" (Coryell interview).

Jimi Hendrix Coming Up

One other notable young Seattle musician who developed a fondness for the Castle was a teenage guitarist named Jimmy Hendrix. Between 1957 and 1961 Hendrix earned a local reputation for consistently showing up at various gigs and asking if he could sit in and play along. He attempted this with the Wailers, the Dave Lewis Combo, the Playboys, the Adventurers, Dynamics, and other local bands.

Many years after Hendrix had changed his name to "Jimi" and become an international rock star, his father Al would recall that his son would "go to the clubs and ask the guy could he sit in with him. He used to do that right here in Seattle when he was coming up. He used to go to the place on Old [Highway] 99, the dancehall, the Spanish Castle. He used to go there and hang around the stage and try to get in and play with some of the groups" (Al Hendrix interview).

O'Day concurred, even recalling Hendrix's particular modus operandi:

Despite being rejected on some such occasions, Hendrix eventually joined his own teen combos -- the Velvetones, Rocking Kings, Thomas and His Tomcats -- and developed his skills considerably. Hendrix's lingering fondness for Seattle's music scene is indicated by the fact that years after he left the Northwest he penned "Spanish Castle Magic" in tribute to his days hanging out at the old roadhouse. Dave Marsh probably puts it best in Louie Louie: A History of The World's Most Famous Rock Song:

Later in the tune's lyrics Hendrix offers one last global positioning clue for the literal-minded: "No it's not in Spain."

The Wailers and the World's Fair

Meanwhile, back in the fall of 1961 O'Day and the Wailers were drawing great crowds to the Castle and it dawned on them that -- with additional hordes of visitors expected to descend on the area in a few months for the opening of the 1962 Seattle World's Fair -- a few additional bucks might be also made by producing a record that would serve as memento. And so, the DJ hauled recording gear down there, rolled the tapes, and before long the Fabulous Wailers at the Castle LP was in area record-shop racks.

O'Day's liner notes included this direct pitch:

"If you visit Seattle for the World's Fair, I hope you will find it possible to stop by the Spanish Castle. . "The Castle" is the entertainment mecca of the Seattle-Tacoma area. There is a big dance there every Friday night, but the big night is when the Wailers are at the Castle. It was on such a night, as about 2,000 teenagers danced their heads off, that we turned on the tape recorders and captured the following grooves" (Fabulous Wailers at . ).

Though no triumph of sound engineering, the album was a fine aural document of a typical teen dance of the day and it became a regional bestseller that is today (now available on compact disc) widely acknowledged as a classic.

In the summer of 1963 Ian Whitcomb -- then a British student out touring the states (a bit before he launched his own music career) -- happened through Seattle and recalled in his Rock Odyssey that it was at the Castle that he was first exposed to our regional rock traditions:

"I journeyed out with a beer-bellied kid to a dance hall called the Spanish Castle to hear some of the instrumental groups who specialized in the Northwest sound. I was lucky enough that night to hear the Kingsmen play their current hit, 'Louie Louie.' They wore band jackets and looked fairly clean cut, but when they blasted out on this number the kids went wild" (Whitcomb).

Tragedy Foreshadows the End

Such teen dances -- not to mention the many high school proms, parking lot rumbles, and amorous backseat rendezvous that also occurred at the Spanish Castle -- were definite highlights for a generation or two of local youth. But the Spanish Castle's days were, unfortunately, numbered. O'Day recalled that disaster struck on Friday, September 1, 1961, when a tragic incident took place. Three teenage girls were attempting to cross the roadway in front of the Castle around 9:15 p.m. when they were hit by a passing automobile. Everybody's spirits were dampened, the Castle's magic was tarnished, and after another wreck occurred a few years later, O'Day chose to quit booking shows there.

In the end, all those decades worth of magic evenings with dance and romance at the Spanish Castle came to an abrupt and permanent halt when Knutsen's sons decided to have the wonderful historic structure razed by bulldozers in April 1968. Today only magic memories remain of the Spanish Castle: After decades as the site of a modest burger joint/mini-mart, the Spanish Castle's original spot at 23003 Pacific Highway S became the home of a Walgreens store in January 2006.

Spanish Castle Ballroom (1931), ca. 1940

Courtesy Greater Des Moines/Zenith Historical Society

The Fabulous Wailers at the Castle (Etiquette Records ETALB 1, 1961)

Courtesy Peter Blecha collection

Spanish Castle Ballroom (1931), 1960s

Courtesy Peter Blecha collection

Newspaper Advertisement for Spanish Castle Ballroom, ca. 1950

Courtesy Peter Blecha collection

Gordon Greene's Orchestra at the Spanish Castle, Des Moines, 1950s

Sources:

The Fabulous Wailers at the Castle (Etiquette Records [ETALB 1], 1961) Ian Whitcomb, Rock Odyssey (New York: Doubleday/Dolphin, 1983) Jo Ann Smith, "Dancers Had a Ball at the 'Castle," Des Moines Times-News, March 13, 1985 Dave Marsh, Louie Louie: A History of The World's Most Famous Rock Song (Hyperion, 1993) Richard Kennedy and Grechen Schmidt, Looking Back (City Currents, ca. 1998) Ernest Tubb, The Complete Live 1965 Show CD (Lost Gold Records: 1998) "5 Killed in State Traffic Accidents: Seattle Couple, 3 Auburn Girls Die," The Seattle Times, September 2, 1961, p. 1 Pete Blecha interviews with Al Hendrix (1978-1994), Pat O'Day (1987-2002), Larry Coryell (1984), Merrilee Rush (1987-2001), and Ian Whitcomb (1995).
Note: This essay was updated on January 9, 2015, and corrected on March 7, 2019.


Behind the scenes

The Great Hall, partial view as seen in Harry Potter: Puzzles & Spells

The Great Hall at night as seen in Harry Potter: Puzzles & Spells


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