In 1865, the 18 year old Marquess met the Gothic Revival architect William Burges. It was an incredible meeting of minds. Over the next 16 years, the extraordinary combination of Burges’ genius and Bute’s wealth created one of the most remarkable buildings in Victorian Britain. For Burges it was the commission of a lifetime. A modest proposal to restore South Gate expanded into a plan to create an iconic Clock Tower, add more towers to the existing house and create larger rooms inside the house from a series of smaller ones.
Within a remarkably short space of time, the exterior of the Castle had been transformed and the skyline of Cardiff changed. The attention to detail was extraordinary and Burges’ drawings included not only the architectural masterpieces of the Clock Tower but also carefully crafted plans for furniture, decoration and bespoke furnishings. A team of craftsmen worked on site for over 20 years and when Burges died prematurely in 1881, the work continued thanks to the legacy of his meticulous drawings.
The Bute family spent much of their time in Scotland and in London as well as travelling abroad. They spent about six weeks of the year in Cardiff, when the Marquess would spend his time entertaining and overseeing the estate.
The 3rd Marquess died in 1900 at the young age of 53 and was succeeded by his son John who was also interested in building and went on to complete a number of his father’s restoration projects.