At the southern end of the river and on its eastern side in the heart of the City of Cardiff lies Bute Park, an area of open space amounting to 59Ha (150 acres) serving, together with the adjoining parkland on the western bank, as a ‘green lung’ for the City.
Cardiff is fortunate to have a stretch of park and woodland so close to the City Centre. The Park and Cardiff Castle were gifted to the people of Cardiff by the 5th Marquess of Bute in 1947 although a portion of the southern end of the Park was given to the Catholic Church and is now leased by the City.
<img src="http://static1.squarespace.com/static/5650d499e4b0a376ef7b7ed2/5650d932e4b0991ab30dddd5/5651aea4e4b0530b6169a612/1448193776375/tumblr_inline_nlj6i2LO2y1tqyza6_500.jpg grant from the National Heritage Lottery Fund for its restoration in 2009. As well as improving and expanding the visitor facilities and amenities, including the creation of an education centre, the grant has been used to restore the Blackfriars Priory site and to reinstate the Mill Leat that runs along the Castle’s western wall. The Mill Leat was the site of early industries in the 12th century, which continued working until the late 1700’s. This work is now virtually complete but during its progress a variety of interesting archaeological finds were unearthed. Visitors will be welcomed at the Pettigrew tea rooms located in the former West Lodge, itself a listed building, where Victorian tiles, used in earlier restoration of the Priory site, are laid on its floor.
The tearooms are named after Andrew Pettigrew who laid out the Castle grounds (the southern part of the Park) for the 3rd Marquess of Bute in the 1870s. In his obituary it was said:
‘….on a most uncompromising site Mr Pettigrew formed a pleasaunce of great beauty, and fully in keeping with the stately historic building that dominates it, but here it must suffice to say that its creation was a triumph of the landscapist’s art.’
Many of the trees planted by Pettigrew still survive (Limes and Plane trees) and form part of what is now the Arboretum. The creation of the Bute Park Arboretum was the work of Bill Nelmes the Council’s Chief Parks Officer in the 1940’s. In 2006 the Tree Register of the British Isles described Bute Park as ‘… one of the most interesting and varied parks in the country.’. There are now some 36 Champion trees in the Park, the largest of their kind in the British Isles. Trees to look out for especially are the Hybrid Wingnut, until recently considered to be the largest in Britain; the Foxglove Tree, which when it flowers provides a spectacular display; and the collection of Japanese cherry trees. In the autumn look out for the rich colours of the American Red Oaks and the yellows of the Ginko trees, one of the oldest species of trees in the world.
A group of people who are enthusiastic about Bute Park and believe that it is one of the great treasures of the City of Cardiff, recently formed the Friends of Bute Park. They help keep Bute Park special, working closely with the Council to enhance and protect the park, its gardens, trees and its wild areas, for the public to enjoy. They do so:
– By regularly meeting with the Council to discuss the maintenance and restoration plans.
– By carrying out conservation, litter picking, tree labelling and the removal of invasive plants such as Himalayan Balsam.
– By organising walks, nature rambles, bird watching and wildlife surveys to show the public the natural and historic interest in the Park
To find out more check out their website:
. If you want to get in touch e-mail
Written by Mike Harper