Gorsedd Gardens

Gorsedd Gardens c1908

Gorsedd Gardens c.1908

Gorsedd Gardens is an informal garden in front of the National Museum, so named after the Gorsedd Circle of standing stones within it. These stones were originally placed in Cathays Park for the 1899 National Eisteddfod, and were moved to their present location when the space was enclosed in 1905 to create a garden. In its early years this space was referred to as the Druidical Gardens but the name Gorsedd Gardens was later adopted. At this time neither Gorsedd nor Friary Gardens was open to the public because the Parks Committee was unwilling to bear the cost of a caretaker. In January 1909 it was agreed the cost of a caretaker be included in the estimates for the next financial year[1] and Gorsedd Gardens was formally opened by the Lord Mayor on 27th July 1910.[2][3]

Gorsedd Gardens contains a number of statues, including several by the Cardiff-born sculptor Sir William Goscombe John. On the north side in front of the Museum, is a bronze statue unveiled in 1960 of David Lloyd George, who was Member of Parliament for Caernavon for 55 years, and Prime Minister from 1916 to 1922. Also in front of the Museum is a statue of Lord Ninian Edward Crichton Stuart (1883-1915), a member the Bute family. At the south end is a statue of the coal owner and philanthropist John Cory, by Goscombe John, placed there in 1906, and to the west is the equestrian statue of Viscount Tredegar, also by Goscombe John, erected in 1909. This was originally placed in front of City Hall. A German howitzer gun captured during the 1914-18 war was placed alongside the Lord Tredegar statue, but it was removed in 1925 to the south eastern part of Cathays Park, next to the Dock Feeder Canal.[4] In 1938 the Parks Committee authorised the Chief Officer of Parks to invite tenders for purchase of the gun.[5]

In 1911 a stone coffin was given to the National Museum and was placed in Gorsedd Gardens in front of the Museum. "This coffin apparently originated in Bath having been dug up in ... Lansdowne, Bath, in 1822, and was brought to Cardiff in the 1890s [described as 'some 17 years ago' in 1911]. Its dimensions were given as: 6 foot 6 inches or 7 foot long; 20 inches high; and nearly 3 foot at widest point."[6] It can be seen in the postcard, postmarked 1942, in the section of this site showing images of the Museum. The Cardiff Council Parks Committee, on 22nd March 1932 decided that the National Museum should be asked to move the "stone coffin" then in Gorsedd Gardens to their own grounds.

In the 1938 Inventory of Parks Buildings and Equipment the entry for Gorsedd Gardens listed a "Caretakers Shelter or Broadcasting Shelter" and a Tool Shed.

The photographs below show the layout and bedding schemes in the early 2000s.

Gorsedd gardens in spring

Gorsedd gardens in spring c.2005[7]
© Cardiff Parks Service

Gorsedd gardens in summer

Gorsedd gardens in summer c.2005[7]
© Cardiff Parks Service

Sources of Information

In general, the information in this section is taken from A. A. Pettigrew, The Public Parks and Recreation Grounds of Cardiff, Volume 5.

Other sources are:

  1. Meeting of the Parks Open Spaces and Burial Board Committee 25th January 1909
  2. Special Meeting of the Parks Open Spaces and Burial Board Committee 27th July 1910
  3. Cardiff Times and South Wales Weekly News Saturday July 39th 1910 page 6
  4. Meeting of the Parks Open Spaces and Burial Board Committee 13th January 1925
  5. Meeting of the Parks, Baths and Cemeteries Committee 14th December 1938
  6. Private communication from the National Museum of Wales
  7. Cardiff Council Horticultural Database (2003-2010)