Margam Castle is a large house built in Margam, Port Talbot, South Wales, for the Talbot family. The "castle" is actually a comfortable Victorian country house, one of many "mock" or "revival" castles built in the 19th century during the Gothic Revival. It was commissioned by Christopher Rice Mansel Talbot (1803-1890) and was constructed over a ten-year period from 1830 to 1840.
After a Grand Tour of Europe, Talbot returned to south Wales and from 1830 set about redeveloping the family estate at Margam. The mansion was designed in the Tudor Gothic style by architect Thomas Hopper (1776-1856), while Edward Haycock (1790-1870) was supervisory architect and designed parts of the interior and exterior of the house, the stables, terraces and lodges. Talbot also took a keen interest in the project, encouraging his architects to borrow elements from Lacock Abbey in Wiltshire (ancestral home of the Talbots and home to his cousin William Henry Fox Talbot) and Melbury House in Dorset (home of his mother's family, the Fox-Strangeways, Earls of Ilchester).
William Henry Fox Talbot was a frequent visitor to Margam, and the castle featured as an image in some of his early photographic experiments. Margam's links with photography also include the earliest known Welsh photograph, a daguerreotype of the castle taken on 9 March 1841 by the Reverend Calvert Richard Jones.
After the death of Emily Charlotte Talbot (daughter of C.M.R.Talbot), the castle passed to her nephew, and continued to be used by the family until 1941, when it was sold. David Evans-Bevan, who bought it, found it too large to live in, but could not find any public organisation interested in taking it on, and it fell into disrepair. For many years it belonged to the local authority, but was not open to the public. In 1977, a fire caused substantial damage, and it was only after this that the restoration project seriously began.
Today Margam Castle is a Grade I listed building, and is in the care of Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council.
For more information see: http://www.neath-porttalbot.gov.uk/margampark/