Inland, there is a dramatic industrial landscape at Blenau Ffestiniog. This is the Dinas Incline (1905) and the Lower Qarry Incline (1872) which used to link the slate quarries to the Ffestiniog Railway and stll loom over the village.
Criccieth further south west overlooking Cardigan Bay has a castle which was constructed by the native Welsh copying Anglo Norman precidents. Its ruin is dominated by a twin D tower gatehouse attributed by most to the first Welsh phase of construction from the 1230′s. A second phase in the 1260′s - 70′s extended a ward to the rear and erected a second curtain wall around the castle. The castle was taken by Edward 1 of England in 1283. The towers of the gate house were raised and used as living accomodation and a timber great hall erected in the interior. In appearance it has a striking resemblance to the Gaelic Irish castle of Newtonstewart in Co Tyrone which also copied the Anglo Norman D shaped gatehouse and used it for accomodation. Newtownstewart however does not have direct access from gate to inner ward. This is accessed from the first floor of the tower.
Caernarfon Castle and #walledtown further along the coast is another complex erected by Edward I as part of his conquest of this area. It was constructed between 1284 and 1330 and is a deliberately imposing structure. Its masonry has stripes of coloured brick recalling the walls of Byzantium and thereby reflecting Imperial power. Its poligonal towers are very unusual in their design and form part of the curtain wall. The whole is a constituent part of the same world heritage site as Conway- The Castles and Town Walls of King Edward in Gwynedd. Very impressive.
Conway Castle and town walls are a true Medieval construction. Dating from between 1283 and 1289, they were built by King Edward i of England as part of his conquest of this area. Today they are well preserved and form part of a World Heritage Site along with other castles constructed in the same campaign.
On to North Wales. This is Penrhyn Castle near Bangor constructed in the Norman style between 1822 and 1827 to designs by Thomas Hopper. Hopper was also architect for Gosford Castle in Co Armagh. It is well sited looking out towards the mountains and slate mines that funded its lavish construction. Inside, the level of detail is well beyond any medieval precident and is something to behold. Well worth a visit.
At the head of the Dee Estuary lies the walled city of Chester with its half timber buildings. The settlment was established by the Romans and though the walls were extended in the medieval period the four main streets follow routes laid out at that time. This is a view of Eastgate from Foregate Street. The gate was rebuilt in 1768 and the clock on top was erected to commorate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1899.
An unusual suburban development further down the Wirral at Parkgate. This is Hamilton Close designed in 1966 by J Roy Parker, president of the Liverpool Architecture society from 1974 -76. They have an oversailing timber top floor containing bedrooms and an open plan ground floor enclosed in timber and concrete brick. Kitchens overlooking the road with glazed walls facing the garden. Quite cool.
Backwood Hall further south east overlooking the Dee Estuary is quite grand late Nineteenth century farm house in the Jacobean Style. Quite elegant and self assured in its own way.
Further round the Wirral peninsula, this is Shore Cottage on Thurstaston beach with a discrete and elegant artists studio attached.
Marks of Time
Sketches of buildings in the North West of Ireland and further afield with a little information about their history.