Bodelwyddan Castle

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Bodelwyddan Castle

Bodelwyddan Castle (Welsh: Castell Bodelwyddan) , close to the village of Bodelwyddan, near Rhyl, Denbighshire in Wales, was built around 1460 by the Humphreys family of Anglesey as a manor house. Its most important association was with the Williams-Wynn family, which extended for around 200 years from 1690. It is now a Grade II* Listed Building and is open to the public as a historic house museum.[1]


Watercolour of the house that preceded Bodelwyddan Castle c1781

The castle was bought from the Humphreys by Sir William Williams, Speaker in the House of Commons from 1680–1681.[2]

Bodelwyddan Castle

The castle which stands today was reconstructed between 1830 and 1832 by Sir John Hay Williams, who employed the architects Joseph Hansom (inventor of the Hansom cab) and Edward Welch to refurbish and extend the house.[3] The Williams' family fortunes started to decline in the 1850s, due to the loss of the main source of income for the estate, lead mining. The castle has been described as one of Hansom's most ambitious projects, "being wildly dramatic and owing nothing to its predecessors".[4] At the same time works were carried out to construct an estate wall and formal gardens.

Further refurbishment work was carried out in the 1880s by Sir Herbert, 7th Baronet, who inherited Bodelwyddan Castle from his heirless cousin.By the First World War the house had become a recuperation hospital for wounded soldiers. During this time, the grounds of the estate were used by soldiers based at the nearby Kinmel Camp for trench warfare training.[5] Traces of these trenches can still be seen.

Lowther College[edit]

By 1920, the cost of maintaining the castle and estate had grown too burdensome, and the Williams-Wynn family leased Bodelwyddan to Lowther College, a girls private school. The school was formed in 1896 at Lytham St. Annes in Lancashire, by Mrs Florence Morris (later Lindley).[6] Lowther College purchased the property five years later, in 1925.[4] The school is thought to be one of the first private schools for girls to have its own swimming pool. It also had a private golf course. The Lowther College Tableaux were well regarded within the community for their musical excellence. Boys were admitted from 1977. The school closed in 1982 due to financial problems.[7]

Museum and arts centre[edit]

In the 1980s, the site was bought by Clwyd County Council with the aim of developing the castle as a visitor attraction. Partnerships were formed with the National Portrait Gallery and the Royal Academy of Arts, so that the castle could be used to display objects from these collections. In order to house these items, the interior of the castle was restored by Roderick Gradidge, an expert on Victorian architecture. Part of the site was leased to the Rank Organisation in 1994 for development into a luxury hotel, Bodelwyddan Castle Hotel,[8] and is now run by Warners, who are part of the Bourne Leisure. The historic house and grounds are not part of the hotel but are managed by Bodelwyddan Castle Trust, an independent registered charity,[9] and are open to the public.

The castle's association with the National Portrait Gallery came to an end in 2017 after its funding was cut by Denbighshire County Council.[10]


The castle is set within a large area of parkland, and formal gardens, the most recent of which was originally designed by Thomas Hayton Mawson in 1910.[11]

Bodelwyddan Castle Gallery[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Caring for Our Built Heritage: Conservation in Practice; Tony Haskell, 1993, p.133
  2. ^ "Bodelwyddan Castle Introduction". National Portrait Gallery. Archived from the original on 2001-03-05. Retrieved 2007-12-01.
  3. ^ Harris, Penelope,The Architectural Achievement of Joseph Aloysius Hansom (1803–1882), The Edwin Mellen Press, 2010, ISBN 0-7734-3851-3.
  4. ^ a b Tony Haskell, Ibid., p.133
  5. ^ "Trenches". Bodelwyddan Castle. Archived from the original on 2010-06-13. Retrieved 2007-12-01.
  6. ^ "Lowther College". Archives Network Wales. Retrieved 2007-12-01.[permanent dead link]
  7. ^ "Lowther College". Bodelwyddan Castle. Archived from the original on 2007-11-08. Retrieved 2007-12-01.
  8. ^ "History". Bodelwyddan Castle. Archived from the original on 2007-11-08. Retrieved 2007-12-01.
  9. ^ Charity Commission. BODELWYDDAN CASTLE TRUST, registered charity no. 1040969.
  10. ^ Mills, Eleanor (15 March 2017), Bodelwyddan Castle to sever ties with National Portrait Gallery, Museums Association, retrieved 16 March 2017
  11. ^ "gardens". Bodelwyddan Castle. Archived from the original on 2007-11-08. Retrieved 2007-12-01.


  • Foister, Susan (1988). The National Portrait Gallery at Bodelwyddan Castle. London: National Portrait Gallery Publications. ISBN 0904017923.
  • Hubbard, E. (1986). Buildings of Wales: Clwyd. Penguin/Yale University Press. pg. 325.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 53°15′40″N 03°30′06″W / 53.26111°N 3.50167°W / 53.26111; -3.50167