Today I want to tell about a quite fantastic building in North Wales and one that so many people will have passed as they speed along the A55 but very few have seen close up. It is Gwrych Castle. Nestled above the town of Abergele, its sprawling design and numerous turrets stand out along a tree-lined hillside. While from afar it looks like a medieval ruin, it is not as old as it appears.
Have you heard of Gwrych Castle?
Gwrych Castle is a country house that was built between 1819 and 1825 in northern Wales. It is interesting in that it was one of the first efforts to recreate medieval architecture, which has resulted in an impressive edifice. Something that is particularly when one takes into consideration its gardens and grounds, which encompass a total of 250 acres.
Until the 1940s, Gwrych Castle was held by the family of its builder. During the Second World War, it was requisitioned for use for housing 200 Jewish refugees.
Afterwards, Gwrych Castle was sold by its owners, which is why it went on to see a number of uses in the following decades. Examples included being a showpiece, an event venue, and even a medieval entertainment center. Over time, Gwrych Castle saw a gradual decline as a number of development plans fell through for various reasons, with the result that it was eventually bought out by the Gwrych Castle Preservation Trust in June of 2018.
Travel Tips: The castle grounds are open from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. each day, with last admission at 2:30 p.m. The main building is a ruin, so there is currently no public access. Entrance to the park is £5 for adults. Official website: Gwrych Castle
Thanks to enthusiasm of Mark Baker the life is being breathed back into this beautiful place. An architectural historian at Cardiff University has began a campaign to save the castle aged only 11. Aged just 13, he formed Gwrych Castle Preservation Trust to raise awareness of its history including direct links to the Royal family. The trust bought the castle last year, some restorations works were done and the place was opened to the public.
Young enthusiast hopes the castle, which still has 300 acres (121 hectares) of grounds surrounding the walls, turrets and towers, will eventually offer holiday accommodation.
Travel Tips: How to find – address: Abergele, Conwy, Clwyd, LL22 8ET, Wales. Of the A547 1 mile west of Abergele. OS: SH928 775
What is Gwrych Castle like now?
The place is no longer in its prime, but somehow, that has managed to make it more rather than less interesting. In part, this is because nature has started reclaiming the site, thus resulting in a very distinctive presentation with very little else like it. However, it should also be noted that the relative lack of people has given its grounds a rather haunting feel. Something that might interest those who are seeking an atmospheric feel.