If you’ve got time this week, amongst the plethora of literary events, try and take an hour one morning to do a tour of Hay Castle, as I did in a very peaceful and sunny Hay on Wye today. Our tour today was led by Mark Baker, the author of Lost Houses in Wales who is doing a PhD in Architectual History at Cardiff University.
He took us around the fascinating grounds and interior of the 400 year old castle and it’s adjacent Jacobean house. Little of the original castle remains, but with Mark’s help we were able to map out where the walls, gardens and staircases once were. It has endured several fires in it’s history, two of them in the twentieth century, and it was recently announced that a £4.5 million heritage fund lottery grant had been secured for the continuing restoration of the building.
Richard Booth has already ploughed £2 million into the place, and so it is fantastic news that the future of the castle is safe in the hands of the castle trust. As Mark pointed out, there are around 3000 historical buildings ‘at risk’ in Wales, so it is very reassuring that there exists a public will to save this very important building in Hay on Wye.
Tours cost £4 – tickets from the Hay Festival box office. They start at 9am and 10am each morning for the rest of the week, meet outside the front of the castle where you will be met by one of the Hay Festival volunteer stewards.