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 owned the castle.
History and description
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. The 5th Marquess of Bute presented the park to the Council in 1947 and the park is still owned and managed by Cardiff Council.
Along the east bank of the River Taff and adjoining Cardiff Castle, the park offers a combination of arboretum, flower gardens and recreation grounds. Most of the park is laid to grassland but there is an abundance of woodland and tree-lined avenues. Sophia Gardens and Pontcanna Fields are on the opposite side of the river, reached by two footbridges. Sophia Gardens is home to the Glamorgan County Cricket Ground, where test matches are played, and to the Sport Wales National 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. 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. The dock feeder is still the main water supply to the port of Cardiff.
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. In 2010, Cooper's Field hosted a concert by Florence and the Machine.
HLF Bute Park Restoration Project
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.
- Blackfriars Friary: Work undertaken to conserve and interpret the medieval Friary remains, using Victorian brickwork walls to mark the building's plan. 
- 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.
- 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.
Bridges and entrances to Bute Park
Entrance in Castle Street (The Grade II* listed West Lodge Gate to the right)
- "Cardiff Castle and Bute Park". Coflein. Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales. Retrieved 19 September 2016.
- "Pontcanna Fields and Sophia Gardens". Cardiff Council. Retrieved 19 September 2016.
- "Bute Park". Cardiff Council. Retrieved 20 April 2016.
- http://www.gtj.org.uk/en/zoomify-item/item/GTJ40118/?tx_cncdisplayitem_pi1%5Bbackpid%5D=4308 Bute Estate Maps of 1824[dead link]
- Plan showing the route of the dock feeder, 1833. Glamorgan Archives[full citation needed]
- Henry, Graham (24 March 2012). "Bute Park's historic West Lodge reopens as Pettigrew Tea Rooms". Wales Online. Retrieved 20 April 2016.
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