Chimneypiece Frieze

Thanks to the architect William Burges and his team of highly skilled craftsmen, the "historic but somewhat dreary" living quarters at Cardiff Castle were "gradually transformed ... into a Gothic feudal extravaganza" at this time (Williams 8). Thomas Nicholls, Burges's usual stone-carver, was a key part of the process, though James Redfern and a young William Goscombe John are also known to have worked here. All would have been following the instructions of Burges himself. As for the chimneypieces, which often provided the highlight of even the smallest room, "Burges's highly carved creations were produced for him” by the sculptor Thomas Nicholls" (Osband 146). Here, under the well-known quotation from Virgil, "Love conquers all; let us yield to love," richly dressed medieval lords and ladies with their hounds are seen relaxing in front of a fire or dallying outside. On the left, one of the women is being shown how to handle a bow. Brilliant colours and gilding complete the work: the interior decorator, John Dibblee Crace (1839-1919) was employed for this purpose "during the late 1870s and early 1880s" (see Keeble 39, n.12; Williams 14). Click on the image to enlarge it.

Related Material

Photograph by the author. [You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL or credit the Victorian Web in a print document.]


Keeble, Trevor. "'Plate Glass and Progess': Victorian Modernity at Home." Designing the Modern Interior: From the Victorians to Today. Ed. Penny Sparke et al. Oxford & New York: Borg, 2009. 31-39.

Osband, Linda. Victorian Gothic House Style: An Architectural and Interior Design Source. Cincinatti: F & W Publications, 2003.

Williams, Matthew. William Burges. Norwich: Jarrold (Pitkin Guides), 2007.

Last modified 8 December 2011