VISITORS to Raglan Castle can see its 'hokey cokey' staircase for the first time in more than 20 years, following restoration work.

The 15th Century grand staircase, once used by the guests of the Earl of Pembroke, has been restored at Raglan Castle. The staircase, nicknamed the Hokey-Cokey staircase because it was removed and put back at least three times over 550 years, took nearly a year to complete as part of a major conservation project carried out by Cadw.

The castle’s curator, Jill Cale, said: "It has been closed for more than 20 years so it’s fantastic to see that section of the castle open to the public again."

The original staircase was built by the Earl of Pembroke, William Herbert in the 1460s, but the castle was abandoned after the Civil War, and plundered for its building materials, including stone stripped from the staircase.

An eroded version of the staircase remained in use throughout the 18th century and in 1830 the Duke of Beaufort commissioned architect Jeffrey Wyattville to reinstate it.

It survived until the Ministry of Works took over the site after World War II and remained in position until the 1950. In the mid 80s it was replaced with a wooden staircase carried on two posts which began to decay and were later removed and the staircase closed. The new staircase means visitors can now climb up the tower .

Cadw’s chief architect, Trefor Thorpe, said it was a challenge to find old records of how the staircase would have looked and that research began it two years ago.

Local craftsman, Alan Cornish who led the team in restoring the 20 steps using Monmouth stone said: "The restoration was as close to the original as possible using past records."

The project was funded Cadw’s conservation works programme.