Gwrych Castle

Gwrych Castle, Abergele

This is one of Britain’s finest examples of architecture in medieval style from the early 19th century. Different sections of the castle are based on specific medieval castles in North Wales. To hear how to pronounce Gwrych, press play: (audio coming soon)

Previously an Elizabethan house stood at the site, owned by the Lloyd family of Gwrych. Lloyd Bamford-Hesketh conceived the new castle as a memorial to his ancestors. Building took place from 1812 to 1822. The castle was extended by later generations of the family, including Lord and Lady Dundonald in the early 20th century.

Lady Dundonald spoke Welsh and was a patron of the arts, founding a harp competition and being inducted into the Gorsedd of Bards. She also promoted women craftworkers and artists, in Britain and abroad. She founded two military hospitals in the First World War. King George VI thanked her for “looking after my soldiers” when he visited one of the hospitals, near London Victoria station, in 1916. A photograph from the period shows her nursing Maori soldiers from New Zealand.

In the Second World War, the castle was home to 180 boys and girls who had been evacuated from Nazi-occupied Europe by the “Kindertransport”, which moved young Jewish refugees to safety in Britain in 1938 and 1939. The aim was to return the youngsters to their parents when the Nazi “crisis” was over, but by August 1940 the children at Gwrych were being prepared for eventual emigration to Palestine. They were under the care of James Burke, 31, who had previously worked in Switzerland and Austria for the International Voluntary Service for Peace and Society of Friends (Quakers).

The Dundonalds sold Gwrych Castle in 1946, ending almost 1,000 years of the family’s ownership of the site. In the post-war decades, tourists flocked to its medieval-style banquets, markets and jousting events and rode on its miniature railway. Under successive owners from 1990 onwards, the castle decayed and was stripped of fittings.

The situation so appalled local schoolboy Mark Baker that, aged 12, he founded the Gwrych Castle Preservation Trust in 1997. His dogged determination bore fruit in 2018, when the trust bought the castle (with help from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and Richard Broyd Charitable Trust). The trust is restoring sections of the castle and gardens. Follow the link below for details of visiting times.

Postcode: LL22 8ET    View Location Map

Gwrych Castle website