Bute Park

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Bute Park

Bute Park is a major park in the city of Cardiff, capital of Wales. It is 130 acres of landscaped gardens and parkland that once formed the grounds of Cardiff Castle. The park is named after the 3rd Marquess of Bute, whose family resided in the castle.

History and description[edit]

The Castle Green was landscaped in the late eighteenth century by Capability Brown, but the park itself was laid out from 1873 on by Andrew Pettigrew, Head Gardener to the 3rd Marquess.[1][2] The 5th Marquess of Bute presented the park to the Council in 1947 and the park is still owned and managed by Cardiff Council.

Straddling the River Taff, it offers a combination of arboretum, flower gardens and recreation grounds. Within the park's grounds is Sophia Gardens, home to Glamorgan County Cricket Club. Most of the park is laid to grassland but there is also an abundance of woodland and tree-lined avenues. The castle begins the park in the city centre.

Within the park there are sculptures such as wood carvings formed from retained tree stumps (in 2012 a series of additional carvings were commissioned as part of the Restoration Project) which encourage natural play. An ironwork sundial, originally placed in the park in 1990 after a Festival of Iron event, was removed in 2006 and replaced by a small round formal garden to honour Stuttgart (Cardiff's German twin-town.) This feature was designed by the Parks Service in Stuttgart and planted by horticultural apprentices from both cities as part of a programme of exchange visits between the two parks departments.

The dock feeder canal runs along the eastern edge of the park. Its origins go back to medieval times when it was a millstream, constructed to feed the Lord's Mill, situated below the western walls of Cardiff Castle. This line is clearly seen on the Bute Estate Maps of 1824.[3] In 1833, the line of the mill stream was incorporated as a water source for the development of the Cardiff Docks by the 2nd Marquess of Bute and was reformed as the dock feeder when the docks were constructed 1836-1841.[4] The dock feeder is still the main water supply to the port of Cardiff.

The annual RHS Show Cardiff has been held in Bute Park since 2005.

Since 1981, the park has hosted what is now Sparks in the Park, an annual Guy Fawkes Night firework display, the profits from which are distributed to charity. This event is organised every year by Cardiff's local branch of Round Table. Historically, the event was held for many years in Cooper's Field, the southernmost part of the park, and nearest to the city centre. Then, in the early Noughties, Cardiff Council had the event moved to Blackweir Field, further north. This change, however, had a negative effect both on attendance and on costs, and Cardiff Round Table successfully campaigned to move the event back to Cooper's Field in 2009. On June 10, 2010, Cooper's Field hosted a concert by Florence and the Machine.

HLF Bute Park Restoration Project[edit]

In 2007 Cardiff Council was awarded a £3.1 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) which went towards the £5.6 million project to help restore some important historic features within the park, provide new facilities and help tell the story of Bute Park.

Some of the key features that have benefited from the grant are:

  • Summerhouse Kiosk: Echoing the design of the original William Burges summerhouse in the park, the new Summerhouse Kiosk was completed May 2010), provides refreshment and toilet facilities.
  • Animal Wall: Designed by William Burges, cleaned and conserved in 2010.[5]
  • Blackfriars Friary: Work undertaken to conserve and interpret the medieval Friary remains, using Victorian brickwork walls to mark the building's plan. [5]
  • West Lodge: The restoration and extension of this historic building and gateway provides a visitor information/orientation point, now used as the Pettigrew Tea Rooms.[6]
  • Mill Leat: Reintroduction of water to the old castle moat that runs alongside the original 12th-century mill stream will restore views and enhance the character of the park to the west of Cardiff Castle.
  • Bute Park Arboretum: Improved signage and interpretation will allow increased awareness and understanding of the park's nationally significant tree collection.
  • Education Centre: This new facility is discreetly located within Bute Park Nursery, and playing on the concept of a "secret garden", will be the hub of the park's public education programme. The Council's horticultural staff train here, and it provides additional refreshment and toilet facilities.

The park is maintained by a dedicated team of Park Rangers and gardeners based on site.

Close by the park are the SWALEC Stadium and the Sport Wales National Centre: both of these organisations are developments in Sophia Gardens, named after the Marchioness of Bute, itself a registered park and part of the collection of 'Bute Parks'.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Parks and Gardens UK". Parksandgardens.ac.uk. Retrieved 2012-12-03. 
  2. ^ "Parks and Gardens UK". Parksandgardens.ac.uk. Retrieved 2012-12-03. 
  3. ^ http://www.gtj.org.uk/en/zoomify-item/item/GTJ40118/?tx_cncdisplayitem_pi1%5Bbackpid%5D=4308 Bute Estate Maps of 1824
  4. ^ Plan showing the route of the dock feeder, 1833. Glamorgan Archives[full citation needed]
  5. ^ a b "Bute Park". Cardiff Council. Retrieved 20 April 2016. 
  6. ^ Henry, Graham (24 March 2012). "Bute Park's historic West Lodge reopens as Pettigrew Tea Rooms". Wales Online. Retrieved 20 April 2016. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°29′20″N 3°11′20″W / 51.489°N 3.189°W / 51.489; -3.189