A new visitor attraction with a living history medieval village, dinosaur park, nature walks and a wedding venue has opened in the Vale of Glamorgan.
Fonmon Castle, which dates from Norman times, is a beautiful country home set in 100 acres of grounds in the Vale of Glamorgan, close to Cardiff Airport. It was purchased last year by Nigel Ford, a businessman who has built a successful wholesale seed business, All Things Rural, as well as a popular visitor attraction, All Things Wild, in the Midlands.
He has taken what he learnt from these ventures to help recreate Fonmon Castle as an attraction providing a great day out while also nurturing new businesses and creating local jobs.
The castle now supports three distinct businesses run by local entrepreneurs. Step Through Time, which includes a living history medieval farm, castle tours and the dinosaur park, is run by Game of Thrones actor and living history expert Ross O’Hennessy. Wild Wales Seeds, which is run by local farmer Rhys Jenkins, is the first large scale seed producer in Wales. This business also includes a re-wilding project in the castle’s picturesque grounds and nature walks for visitors – who will soon also be able to explore a maize maze in the castle grounds.
Fonmon Castle has also welcomed Zoe Binning as its independent wedding advisor. She has reimagined the castle’s wedding offering to include multiple memorable settings: wedding ceremonies can take place in the beautiful library or outside in the Scented Garden, while a large, three top hat tipi provides a unique setting for the wedding breakfast.
Zoe has a passion for sustainable weddings and the castle fully supports this, providing (among other things) home-grown wild flower petals for confetti, home grown vegetables and estate-reared meat for the wedding breakfast, flowers grown in the gardens for wedding bouquets and the chance to offset the carbon footprint of your wedding by planting trees in the grounds. Bookings are now being taken for 2021.
For Nigel, the opening of Fonmon Castle’s new attractions on July 11 marked the beginning of a whole new chapter in the life of this unique building and its surrounding woods, river valley and gardens.
“I’ve got an interest in history and what we’ve created here is in keeping with the castle and the philosophy of the whole enterprise, which is about sustainability and creating a platform to fund the next generation of entrepreneurs,” he says. “This country needs to invest in young people and give them the opportunity to create their own businesses, and that’s what we are trying to do. The key is also to make sure Fonmon can be visited and enjoyed by people of all walks of life, all ages and all backgrounds – it’s all about the environment, history and education.”