Gwrych Castle

Gwrych Castle History & Information

Gwrych Castle is a Grade I listed country house near Abergele in North Wales.  The enormous medieval style gothic ruins dominate the landscape and are situated within over 250 acres of gardens and grounds.  This castle was built to impress and make an impact!  Not all is what it appears at Gwrych Castle, the fairytale medieval style castle ruins only date back to the early 19th century, tell tale signs include the cast iron windows!

TypeFolly / Country House
ConditionRuin – Major stoneworks remains
OwnershipGwrych Castle Preservation Trust
AccessPublic – Fee

Building Gwrych Castle

Gwrych Castle was built between 1812 and 1822 by Lloyd Hesketh Bamford-Hesketh, (who had a great love for everything picturesque) as a memorial to his mother Frances Lloyd and her ancestors, that could be traced back to the medieval period as being the owners of Gwrych.  The castle was built on the site of an earlier Elizabethan House called Y’ Fron.  

The castle is considered to be one of the first gothic follies in Northern Europe but has no military effect.

Click here to watch our video on the history of Gwrych Castle

Gwyrch Castle


Later generations of the family continued to improve and extend the castle, particularly so during the time of Winifred, Countess of Dundonald when she inherited the castle in 1894 (Lloyd Hesketh Bamford-Hesketh’s granddaughter).  Winifred spoke Welsh, was a patron of the arts and promoted women craftworkers and artists.  During the First World War she founded two military hospitals.  

Winifred was a strong and determined lady who left her mark on the castle by installing a magnificent marble 52 step staircase with wrought iron balustrades and stained glass windows, (if you have watched the ITV television show “I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here” you will have seen the contestants leaving the show via the staircase ruins). 

Winifred had an arranged marriage to Douglas Cochrane, this was not a happy marriage and in 1906 she banished him from the castle.  Following her death she left the castle in her will to King George V, in retaliation Douglas’s revenge went as far as burning all of the Countess’s private papers.   In 1928 Douglas bought back the castle for £78,000 (equivalent to approximately £4.75 million in 2019).  In order to buy back the castle Douglas sold most of the castle’s contents to fund the purchase.

During the castle’s heyday Gwrych Castle boasted an astonishing 128 rooms.  These included outbuildings, 28 bedrooms, an inner and outer hall, 2 smoke rooms, a dining room, study, billiards room, drawing room and more.  It also had 19 embattled towers, many of these towers are still standing and help to give the castle a real fairytale appearance.

Gwyrch Castle Towers
Gwrych Castle Towers

Second World War

During the Second World War, Gwrych Castle housed 200 Jewish refugees as part of the Kindertransport program.

Following the war the castle was opened to the public and enjoyed a number of years being a popular tourist attraction and in the 1970’s hosted medieval re-enactments.


In the 1980’s the castle attracted scooterists from across Britain and unfortunately some behaved in an antisocial manner causing considerable damage.  Accounts include youths swinging from the chandeliers and leaping on antique tables, one even apparently rode a scooter straight through a stained glass window.  

The castle was closed to the public and was subsequently owned by a number of businesses who promised renovation and great things for the castle’s future, but these plans did not come to be and the castle was further vandalised and looted.  

Rescuing The Castle

The castle’s savour was Mark Baker, who as a 12 year old boy fell in love with it and began fighting for its future.  Eventually Mark’s hard work paid off and he played a large part in forming the Gwrych Castle Preservation Trust.  In 2018 the castle was sold to the trust with help from a grant from the National Memorial Trust.  The trust is working to preserve and repair the castle to its former glory.

Gwrych Castle on Television

Over recent years Gwrych Castle has featured in a number of television documentaries and the very popular reality show “I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here”.  

Click below to watch our video on Gwrych Castle history

Visiting Gwrych Castle

The Castle is open to the public (when television filming is not happening) for a small fee.  You can check opening dates, times and book your tickets through the castle’s website at

Address – Llanddulas, Abergele, Conwy, North Wales, LL22 8ET

Click here to read our blog post about our experience of exploring Gwyrch Castle

12 thoughts on “Gwrych Castle”

  1. I live in the States. And I didn’t know about this castle’s existence until “I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here” started to be on TV. They had a highly successful run at the castle last year. And I know the TV show will continue on airing from there. Wales, and all the UK have some of the most magnificent castles!

    • Indeed the Wales and the UK have so many wonderful castles that it will certainly take me many years to visit and write about them all.  

      Gwrych has a very magical fairy tale appearance with an intriguing although not log history. 

      It is currently closed with the new reality series being filmed there but will be open again for the public next year.

      Thank you for your comment 🙂 

  2. How cool! What a great article! It is very interesting that even back then they had smoking rooms. Do they actually use them just to smoke? And did they not smoke anywhere else within the property? Seems like that was a 20th century thing, to make smoking in certain areas of a building mandatory. 

    I always just imagine them all smoking wherever haha.

    The history behind it during WW2 is even cooler! Although leave it up to others to ruin it for everyone.. its amazing what we don’t think is historical.. until it is a master piece of history! If only everyone felt the same about certain buildings. 

    Thanks for the article!

    • Thank you for your comments!

      Smoking rooms were very popular in the 18th century, they were typically a place were gentleman would retreat away from the ladies after dinner to smoke tobacco.

  3. Love your website.  This was a fascinating post.  I’ve been watching Outlander, so my interest in history has experienced a resurgence.  You have beautiful images, good videos, an entertaining history of the castle, and links to provide more information if desired.  Nobody would be able to afford a huge place like this now.  The maintenance alone would cost a fortune, in addition to the operating expenses.

    How did you get interested in this castle?  Are you related to the original owners?  So you plan to blog about other castles?

    Your website looks neat and uncluttered.  Do you plan to promote affiliate offers?

    Is your blog primarily a travel blog, or do you plan to familiarize your audience with historical landmarks?

    • Thank you for your lovely comments.  

      I am not a relation to Gwrych Castle’s original owners, I created this website as I have always loved exploring and learning about the history of the endless fantastic historical Castles and Buildings that are out there and wanted to share this.  The website is a labour of love so I do not intend to add affiliate offers at the moment.

      I have split the website between the history of the places I visit and a travel blog sharing my experiences and thoughts to hopefully provide information on both sides.

      Thank you


  4. I appreciate this kind of an article because it helps me to think about things I would like to see.  I am in the US and have not travelled outside North and South America.  We are hoping to travel to the British Isles in the spring after things quiet down a bit.  Gwrych Castle seems like it could be one of many places to put on our itinerary.  Thanks so much for the article.

    • That’s wonderful!  We are very lucky in Britain to be surrounded by so many wonderful different castles, keep an eye out on our site for many more castles that we will be adding to help you decide where you would like to visit on your trip!

  5. Wow, this is a very interesting read! I used to live in Ireland and there were many castles like this one around, but a bit smaller in size. There is one in a town called Drogheda, a tower, that sits in the middle of a road! It’s always great to read up on the history behind these castles! Do you think this castle can ever be open to the public? Or perhaps used as Air BnBs? (with restricted areas to preserve important artifacts)? Thanks a mil!

    • Hello Sam, thanks for your comment. One day I’d love to be able to visit Ireland and write about its castles, there looks to be plenty of lovely examples. Gwrych Castle is indeed quite large. It is hard to know what may happen to castles that are not already in the care of public or private charitable organisations, but I do think it is something to celebrate when the public are able to visit these magnificent historical landmarks.

  6. Love hearing about the history of these places and Gwrych Castle has certainly been through a lot over the years. Glad to see it brought back to its former glory and taken under a trust following it’s Denise in the 1980’s. Will be worth a visit next time I’m in Wales. Thanks for the read

    • Thank you for your comment Dan. Yes it is indeed wonderful to know that the castle is in good hands once again after years of unfortunate neglect. Would definitely recommend a visit if you are in the north of Wales, it won’t disappoint!


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