South East Wales

Raglan Castle's 'hokey-cokey' staircase reopens

Repairing the grand staircase at Raglan Castle
Image caption Masons have tried to reproduce as closely as possible the staircase in its original form

A 15th Century grand staircase at Raglan Castle is to reopen to the public following restoration.

Nicknamed the hokey-cokey staircase, it has been put in and taken out at least three times in its 550-year history.

Architects from Cadw have tried to recreate the original structure as far as possible.

Heritage Minister Alun Ffred Jones said: "Reinstating the grand staircase has been a complicated and difficult task."

He added: "However, it is fantastic that Cadw has now been able to make safe the structure whilst also presenting the design of the grand staircase as it was originally intended."

The processional stair would originally have been used by guests of the Earl of Pembroke as they crossed Fountain Court from their apartments to the great hall for meals.

"Prints suggest that an eroded version of the staircase remained in use throughout the 18th Century," said Rick Turner, Cadw's inspector of ancient monuments.

"In about 1830, the Duke of Beaufort commissioned the architect Jeffrey Wyattville, to reinstate the staircase.

Image caption The grand staircase has been closed to the public for many years

"The staircase survived until the Ministry of Works took over the site after World War II and remained in position until the 1950s at least.

"At some point after this date the stone of this staircase was stripped out to leave the structure as it survives today."

In the mid-1980s a wooden staircase was installed on top of the stone structure for use by visitors but it was closed and removed when the posts began to decay.

Experts excavated the entrance area for evidence of the original structure and then mocked up the lowest three steps in wood to see how the swing of the doors was accommodated.

Masons then recreated in stone the original structure as closely as possible from available records.

The staircase is being reopened to the public on Friday by Cadw's chief architect, Trefor Thorpe, on his last day of service before retirement.

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