Plas Mawr, Conwy

Plas Mawr, High Street, Conwy

Plas Mawr is one of the UK’s finest surviving Elizabethan town houses. Notable original features include elaborate plaster décor inside.

It was built from 1576 onwards for Robert Wynn (c.1520-1598). He was third son of John Wyn ap Maredudd, who inherited lands in the Conwy Valley which had belonged to Aberconwy Abbey (after its relocation from Conwy to Maenan). Robert was too junior to inherit his father’s wealth. While serving members of the Tudor nobility, he travelled widely in Britain and abroad, probably witnessing many battles. He was lame from a leg wound sustained in military action in France.

He invested some of his savings in part-ownership of a ship which imported French wine through Conwy, before starting to buy the land he needed for his ostentaconwy_plas_mawr_1962tious new home in the town. Plas Mawr was built in three periods, starting at the upper end of the site. The part facing High Street is the gatehouse, added in the 1585. You can see the pre-1585 entrance halfway up Crown Lane.

Robert had seven children with his second wife Dorothy. He was buried in a distinctive tomb in St Mary’s Church. Plas Mawr eventually passed through marriage to the Mostyn family, who had many other homes. From the 18th century, the subdivided house was let to local families, as you can read on our page about the grave of resident Hephzibah Williams (d.1824).

The gatehouse was a courthouse for a time. An infants’ school occupied part of the house (with the caretaker and two teachers living in the gatehouse) from 1836 to 1886, when the Royal Cambrian Academy of Art took over the building, at Lord Mostyn’s invitation. The RCA held exhibitions in the building, but maintenance eventually became too big a burden and in 1993 the RCA moved to a converted chapel (behind Plas Mawr). The photo, by the late Hugh Pritchard, shows part of Plas Mawr in 1962.

Plas Mawr was carefully restored by Cadw. The external limewash reproduced the original wall covering but was something of a shock to local residents, familiar with the bare stonework! Follow the link below for details of Plas Mawr’s opening times.

Postcode: LL32 8DE    View Location Map

Plas Mawr on Cadw website