As I said, take time to listen to the tour guides in the castle. They are extremely knowledgeable, interesting and well trained to help you understand aspects that are not readily seen or understood. Randy and I toured through the castle and were stunned by the magnificence we encountered both in the nature surrounding the castle and the work of men’s hands.
Even so, early on in our tour, walking through the inner entranceway corridor to the main great hall, is a veritable feast for furniture connoisseurs and crafting furniture makers alike. Randy and I peered inside and underneath cupboards, desks, chairs and dressing closets designed by Thomas Hopper, the Penrhyn Castle architect. Many of the pieces he designed reflected features of the castle itself; columns and pediments, arches and appliquéd features in classic sombre style that gives it that medieval fortress ambiance, even though it’s obvious that the castle itself is not and never was a protective structure in the classic sense of castles of old. Hopper designed all of the principal interiors in a rich yet restrained style and the classical plasterwork in the upper reaches around the cornices and ceilings is absolutely stunning to say nothing of the wood and stone carvings exemplified throughout the property.
I think that it is unusual to see Norman Style furniture and one of the very rarest pieces is this slate bed made especially for Queen Victoria when she visited in 1859. I can’t imagine ever seeing anything like this anywhere in the world. The workmanship is impeccable. I will post a feature on this bed with images in a later post.
I try to imagine how anyone can think a CNC router can replicate anything near this level of creativity. Or that we would be standing around admiring the results of a router bit in a cordless router. I look with amazement that these men from my past worked with such pristine care to capture three-dimensional decoration with this level of skill. Imagine for a moment, two hundred years hence, how our future generations will look at a CNC carved work and say to themselves such things. I wouldn’t be surprised if the smart phones are suspended there in some sphere of creative admiration and people say, “Imagine what skill they had to produce these archaic findings from the landfill.”
This entrance door is not a fancy door as in the main entrances, but less ornate it speaks of simple beauty. A timeless simplicity if you will that stands testament to Welsh craftsmanship. Even so, beyond even that, it’s three inches thick, eight feet tall and almost four feet wide from Welsh-grown solid oak from the woodlands of the Penrhyn estate. Such is the inheritance of British skill and yet, sad to say, it’s so easy to take for granted such a precious treasure. I am grateful for our National Trust Properties throughout Britain. What a wealth of history and culture!
Of course I am sad that opulence and the means by which it was attained exemplifies success we generally admire and exalt, but it’s not any of that that I admire so much as humble working man quietly shaping shaving and planing with a handful of wooden planes, chisels and saws and of course their own hands.