Last month, I visited the medieval Caerphilly Castle in beautiful south Wales. Even though I’m a bit of a castle geek, I wasn’t expecting to see such a big castle, and in such good condition. (Geek note: It’s actually the second largest castle in the UK, after Windsor Castle.)
Unlike many other castles, Caerphilly has very few stairways that lead to nowhere, and you can walk from room to room on real floors, rather than looking up and imagining where floorboards once lay.
What’s amazing about this huge building is that just over a hundred years ago, it was in a very poor state of repair. Over the years, it had sustained damage through battles, and then left neglected to fall apart. Caerphilly Castle was just an impressive pile of bricks.
The fortune of the castle turned around with the third Marquess of Bute, who, at the time, was the world’s richest man and owner of vast estates, including much of the land surrounding Caerphilly.
Unlike his father, who had amassed a fortune through business, the Marquess wanted to spend his time and money on architecture. Caerphilly castle came to his attention and he poured years of his life into restoring the castle to its former glory.
Not a man to stick to single projects, in 1871, the Marquess of Bute ordered his architect to draw up plans to reconstruct the nearby Castle Coch. The castle had been built in the 1300s but by Tudor times, the castle was “all in ruin no big thing but high”. Today it is very impressive.
The Marquess took some poetic license with the rebuilding because there are no historical records of turrets being used in Britain on castles. Although he took some criticism for his architectural plan, the Marquess was quick to point out that there was also no historical evidence that similar turrets to his design were not used in medieval Britain. You can’t really argue with his reasoning.
So why am I telling you this story about castles?
Well, the castles reminded me of times in life when you feel like an old heap of bricks.
I’m sure you’ve been there too, I know I have. Times when you feel neglected and without purpose, or feeling as if you’re reduced to less than your potential through difficult circumstances or emotional battles.
I built up quite an affinity with those castles.
If someone hadn’t lavished time and attention on both castles, then they would not be the wonderful buildings standing today. Of course, the Marquess poured his family fortune into the restoration projects but without his care, the projects would never have gotten off the ground.
Any situation can be changed with focus, determination, and attention.
So whatever circumstances you find yourself in, there’s always hope for restoration, rejuvenation and to stand the test of time. Never give up hope. It can happen to two old castles, and it can happen to you. Even at times when you feel you’re at your lowest, you can rebuild, with poetic license, and make your life unique and breathtakingly beautiful.
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