Gwrych Castle

Believed by many to be a complete folly Gwrych Castle has a formidable history.

There has been a house on that site for 1000 years and also a pair of Iron Age hill forts on either side.

It goes right back to the time of the Druids and Romans and it was here that Richard 11 was captured There was also an Elizabethan house on the site named “Y FRON”(rounded hill) but this had become derelict by 1810.

Gwrych Castle was built between 1810 and 1825 by Lloyd Hesketh- Bamford-Hesketh in memory of his mother and her ancestors and incorporated an earlier house that had been in their ownership since late medieval times From 1894 until 1924 Winifred Cochrane, Countess of Dundonald, the Hesketh heiress, owned the estate and it became the residence of the Dundonald family( family name of Cochrane).

The Countess left the castle in her will to King George V and the then Prince of Wales(later to be King Edward V111).

However the gift was refused and the castle passed to the Venerable Order of St.John.

In 1928 Douglas Cochrane, 12th Earl of Dundonald purchased the castle for £78.000 selling the contents to meet the cost.

During World War 11, as part of the Kindertransport programme, the Government used the castle to house 200 Jewish refugees run by the Jewish Zionist youth movement Bnei Akiva.

After the War the castle and estate left the Dundonald family and was opened to the public as a visitor attraction.

Gwrych castle became known as “The Showpiece of Wales” and attracted many visitors also being used in the early 1950s as the training venue for the English World Middleweight boxing champion Randolph Turpin.

In the 1960s it was used occasionally by the famous motorcycle Dragon Rally and Medieval re-enactments attracted visitors in the 1970s

Between 1962 and 1986 was a turbulent time with troublemakers causing much damage to the Castle and it closed to the public in 1987.

An American purchaser in1989 had plans to renovate the Castle but these did not happen and it was extensively looted and vandalised becoming once again little more than a derelict shell.

Developers then tried unsuccessfully to build on site and eventually in June 2018 Gwrych Castle and its estate was sold to Gwrych Castle Preservation Trust, a registered charity enabled by a grant from the National Heritage Memorial Fund.

The man responsible for saving the Castle is Dr Mark Baker who as a young boy decided to do something to restore this place of mystery and history.

At the age of 12yrs, in 1997, he founded the Trust with the aim of preservingthe Castle for the nation.

Fast forward to 2018 and the caste is again up for auction and this time the Trust were able to purchase the Castle.

For Mark though the Castle does not belong to him or the Trust, rather it belongs to the Welsh nation ensuring all decisions made are for the benefit of the Nation.

The Castle had been procured for the 2020/21 productions of “I`m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here” This time it will be King or Queen of the Castle involving much building work and renovation which can only be good for the castle and a new chapter in the history of Gwrych Castle