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Gwrych Castle

near Abergele, Conwy, north Wales

Photographs copyright 2002 by Laurie Oliver

Follow this link for more information about Gwrych
and the efforts be made to save the castle
by the Gwrych Castle Preservation Trust.

Local history claims that the first castle at Gwrych was built by the Normans in the 12th century. It was seized by the Welsh prince Rhys ap Gruffydd (the Lord Rhys) of Deheubarth in about 1170 who then rebuilt the timber castle in stone. This castle was later destroyed by Cromwell's army following the English Civil War of the mid-17th century.

The later castle at Gwrych was begun in 1819. The castle is a Grade 1 listed building set in a wooded hillside over looking the Irish Sea. It was the first Gothic folly to be built in Europe by a wealthy industrialist Lloyd Hesketh. Bamford Hesketh, his son, inherited the title of Gwrych in his early 20s and used his vast fortune to build the 4,000-acre Gwrych Castle Estate.

The castle once had a total of 128 rooms including the outbuildings, including twenty-eight bedrooms, an outer hall, an inner hall, two smoke rooms, a dining room, a drawing room, a billiards room, an oak study, and a range of accommodations for servants. There are nineteen embattled towers and the whole facade is over 2000 yards. Many feel the castle's outstanding feature was the castle's 52-step marble staircase.

In 1946 The castle was sold and then it passed through subsequent owners and is now derelict. All of the windows are cast iron and the fantastic stained glass has vanished. It's been years since the castle's been occupied. Years ago they used to hold medieval fairs and the like on the grounds of the castle.

The castle was bought several years ago by an American businessman who planned to spend 10 million pounds to convert the castle into a top-class opera house with adjoining luxury hotel. But those plans never materialized and the building was frequently vandalized. Unfortunately, in early 1998 Gwrych was extensively damaged following the collapse of ceilings and floors, and was later damaged by fire. The future of the castle is now uncertain.

Additional photographs of Gwrych Castle

 

Visit the Gwrych Castle Preservation Trust web site
Visit the Gwrych Castle History & Publications Website for additional information about the castle.

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Copyright 2009 by Jeffrey L. Thomas