The Edwardian period was the golden age with a large staff running the house and gardens, which were filled with many rare and unusual trees, shrubs and plants. There was also a large kitchen garden, orchard, vinery, peach shelter and several hot houses.
As the family’s industrial concerns went into decline, they also suffered the deaths of Fred in 1917, and his son Claude, just a year later on active service. The house passed to Eric, who lived there with his mother and sister, Violet.
In 1931, Western Avenue was planned and subsequently, Cardiff Corporation bought the entire estate under a compulsory purchase order. The family remained in the house for some time after, before moving away to England.
The Court then had many uses: an ARP HQ during World War II, self-contained flats and council offices. It fell into disrepair and, despite the excellent restoration of the dining room in 1995, was closed on health and safety grounds in November 2006.
By 1906 the house was considered old-fashioned, and George Frederick (known as Fred), James Harvey’s son, extended and up-dated the building. Rooms were enlarged and panelled, and a new service wing was added. To complete this grandiose scheme, a large carriage porch was added, and the name was changed to ‘The Court’.
Fortunately, following a long campaign by the Friends of Insole Court, it was re-opened in November 2008. It was then a popular venue for adult education, nursery and after-school groups, and concerts. It is now closed for restoration with funding from Cardiff Council, Heritage Lottery Fund, Big Lottery Fund, Welsh Government, Cadw and other funders. It will re-open in December 2015.
Taken from: Insole Court, Llandaff, The Story of a Victorian Mansion by Matthew Williams, Curator, Cardiff Castle. Published by the Friends of Insole Court, price £2.