by Judy Corbett
pub. Ebury Press © 2004
ISBN 0 091 89731 9
If ever I have read a book expostulating on the hardships of reviving late medieval castles to their original state, this one is the most illuminating and not misleading in any way. When the author and her husband first view the castle it’s a homecoming for two dyed-in-the-wool idealists. She, for actually recalling an all but forgotten childhood visit to the castle and he for his idealist dreams of buying an old ruin and restoring it back to life.
Judy and Peter Corbett are laid down as real-life players in a real-life drama as two romantics coping with stark reality in this difficult-to-put-down narrative. It’s written in such a way that if you are not a lover of castles before you read the book then you will surely appreciate those who do when you’re finished reading it.
Along with the anecdotal history of Gwydir Castle in North Wales, we get a glimpse of the barbaric practice of selling history like a piece of art. In this instance, however, a portion of Gwydir’s Tudor glory is saved from complete historical destruction because a man named William Randolph Hearst bought entire rooms, wood paneling all, before the fire of 1922 which gutted portions of the castle. Because of this, Judy and Peter have the privilege to be the saviors of one room upon buying back and restoring it to its 16th century condition.
Their money-making capers- through room-renting, visitor touring, harrowing film location shoots and even soap-making from wood-ash are as amusing as the mishaps during their extensive restorations, early morning drop-in Japanese visitors and a visit from Prince Charles. This book restored my faith in holding onto dreams and the rewards of elbow-greasing hard work. Even a reader with a passing interest will find this book fascinating !
With real but dream-y kisses,
The Castle Lady