The Welsh Minister for Heritage has agreed that CADW, the Welsh heritage organization, should submit a grant application to the National Heritage Memorial Fund for funds to assist in the purchase of the two ‘missing’ stained-glass panels from the chapel at Castell Coch [Figs 1 and 2].
Castell Coch was designed by the architect William Burges (1827–1881) for John Patrick Crichton-Stuart (1847–1900), 3rd Marquess of Bute, as an occasional summer retreat. The men were already collaborating on the reinvention of Cardiff Castle when work began on rebuilding Castell Coch out of its medieval ruins in 1875. The scheme included a private, timber-framed chapel springing out of the roof of the Well Tower, which was fitted with twenty panels of stained glass designed by Burges and made by the London makers Saunders & Co. in 1878. The windows showed a mixture of Welsh and other British saints, and key biblical figures. The marquess was a Roman Catholic convert and passionately interested in the early Christian church in Britain.
Sadly the chapel was short-lived and had been demolished by 1891. The glass panels were recorded as being stored on site in 1901. Ten of the panels have been at Cardiff Castle since the city council took the site over in 1948 and are displayed there in a gallery. Eight panels were acquired by CADW at auction in 1988 and are now displayed in a model of the chapel in the attic room of the Well Tower.
The two ‘missing’ panels emerged in an auction catalogue for a sale by the auctioneers Woolley and Wallis, Salisbury, on 23 June 2010. The auction estimate was £150–250,000. They went unsold however, and this was previously reported in Vidimus no. 41.
CADW is now pursuing a private-treaty sale through the auctioneers. If CADW is successful, then the purchase can be concluded within the current financial year. The National Heritage Memorial Fund’s lawyers have confirmed that the Welsh Assembly Government is eligible to apply to them for a grant.