Gwrych Castle is quite a distinctive feature on the hill side and can be clearly seen from the A55.
Do you know these places? You see them from your car while passing the area, just far away enough so you can’t make out any details? And every time you wonder what they look up close? For me, Gwrych Castle was one of them until the recent open day.
Gwrych Castle is a story about a family’s vision, magnificent architecture and sad decline. Built between 1812 and 1822 it was built by Lloyd Hesketh Bamford-Hesketh as a memorial to his mother’s ancestors. It passed down the family and many important architects and designers left their mark on the castle and estate, like the famous theatrical Italian marble staircase and cast iron windows. But when the last sole heiress of the estate died and her request of bequeathing it to King George V and the Prince of Wales was declined, things changed dramatically.
The main house can be seen on the left
During World War II Gwrych was requisitioned by the Government and housed two hundred Jewish refugees. In 1948 Gwrych was successfully opened to the public and attracted almost 10 million visitors in the next 20 years. After that the gradual decline began. Many owners, many different uses, unsuccessful hotel plans, weather, vandals and New-age travellers ravaged the buildings to the point of near dereliction.
Today, the Gwrych Castle Preservation Trust and property developers are still hoping to convert this magnificent building into a five star hotel and restoring it to its former glory.
But enough history for now, lets take a tour.
There are walls, gates and rocks everywhere in the garden.
One of the Yew Trees planted by Robert and Ellen in the formal gardens.
Lady’s Walk – the formal entrance into the gardens from the castle.
Window of the conservatory. Unfortunately there is not much left besides a wall with this window…
…and the adjoining Gardener’s Tower.
The Gardener’s Tower will be the first building to be restored on site. This room has already been done and offers great views towards the sea.
Nant-Y-Bella Tower offers a viewing platform as well.
One of the many gates on my walk to the main buildings.
Hesketh Tower. There are many towers at Gwrych Castle and most were copies of the medieval castles of North Wales.
Looks like a part of a family crest but I couldn’t find anything about it.
Discovering all the buildings
Even the stables had a tower.
There was room for 6 horses in the stables. During the 1950s and 60s it was used as a cafe.
Above the stables was accommodation for grooms and coachmen.
Stable Court. The low arches on the left were used as dog kennels.
Just loved this. Looks as old as the buildings.
You get magnificent views from up here.
View of the main house.
It must have looked beautiful in its heyday.
Unfortunately the structure isn’t safe enough to allow us in.
Probably the remains of the old family crest.