In that industrial age; in an era when coal was the main creator of power, and flames flickered inside every home and habitat; in a time of heat and fire, smoke and soot, steam and smog: it seemed nothing less than normal to add an entrance to a home that closely resembled a fireplace. The home in this case was the castellated construction that became known as Plasnewydd (New Mansion) in Welsh, and Roath Castle in English. The hob-warm hatch happily heated feet as people entered, smiling as they shook raindrops from their raiment – splattering its walls with mud, and wiping their boots on its bristling, welcome rug tongue. It breathed them a balmy goodbye, then, when they left, for it knew that they would return. Warmly, it waited, its hearth-like heart glowing with gladness, grateful for its usefulness, ready to receive and greet the next set of familiar, or unfamiliar, feet.
After the last lady of the place left, however, the feet became fewer as well. The incandescent ingress felt people petering across its path; slowly subsiding; then, stopping. It’s hearth fire dimmed; dulled down; died. Disuse had dealt it a bitter blow, and its bricks began to break up. Gritty bits blew down like tears. Granules gravely re-joined gravel. Colour achromatised, features faded, and a general air of sadness saturated the entrance. A passage to absence, for a time the entryway felt it had been forced to withdraw from the world, all worth and whatfor swiped from it by a fate as unfeeling as a face-bound fist.
The knuckles of destiny, however, merely shattered themselves on its stones; for soon, the doorway was again in use, as sport brought gathered groups to the grounds, and grown-ups and children alike passed through the passageway, delighting in its fireside-style appearance. The doorway began, once more, to feel its need, and to stoke the fires that had faltered within it. As wet feet wiped themselves inside it – it warmed. As soaked coats brought rain into its lair – it got hot. Soon, it was all fired up, a furnace of fellowship and friendliness. Forgetting that it had ever been forgotten, it seemed to smile as sport-lovers sauntered through its open, eager mouth.
But still its frame was fading, wasting; and the doorway’s decay has not yet ended.