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Bodelwyddan Castle

Coordinates: 53°15′40″N 03°30′06″W / 53.26111°N 3.50167°W / 53.26111; -3.50167
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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. It was associated with the Williams-Wynn family for around 200 years from 1690. It has been a Grade II* listed building since 1962 as a "Gothick castellated style in the early C19".[1] Having been opened to the public as a historic house museum,[2] as of mid 2019, it was up for sale and the historic building was closed to the public.[3][4]

By August 2019, the grounds and attractions were also closed, but the nearby hotel (independently operated) was not affected.[5]


Watercolour of the house that preceded Bodelwyddan Castle c1781

The castle was bought from the Humphreys by Sir William Williams, Speaker of the House of Commons from 1680 to 1681.[6]

Bodelwyddan Castle

The castle was remodeled in 1805 into a Greek Revival style and then 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; the modifications made it into the castellated style.[7] [8]

The castle has been described as one of Hansom's most ambitious projects, "being wildly dramatic and owing nothing to its predecessors".[9] 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.[10] Traces of these trenches can still be seen.

According to WalesOnline, the castle has been reported as haunted.[11]

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 Florence Lindley.[12] Lowther College purchased the property five years later, in 1925.[9] The school is thought to have been 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.[13]

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. The historic house and grounds were opened to the public and managed by Bodelwyddan Castle Trust, an independent registered charity.[14]

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.[15][16] In order to house these items, the interior of the castle was restored by Roderick Gradidge, an expert on Victorian architecture. The portrait gallery opened in 1988 and was named Museum of the Year in 1989.[16][17] The castle's association with the National Portrait Gallery came to an end in 2017 after its funding was cut by Denbighshire County Council.[18]

Closure of the castle and grounds[edit]

In 2017 Denbighshire County Council decided to sell the site.[15][19]

In February 2019, the property's 99-year lease castle was still listed for sale; by June 2019, the Bodelwyddan Castle Trust stated that the historic house had been closed. The gardens and park remained open to visitors at that time.[4] In August 2019, the trustees advised that in addition to the castle, "public access is no longer granted for the woodlands, parklands, play area and trench experience".[5]

In mid-2021, Bourne Leisure Hotels agreed to purchase the remaining part of the Castle from Denbighshire County Council which had bought the lease to the building. Bourne planned to fully refurbish the castle and to operate it via its Warner Leisure Hotels subsidiary which was already operating the hotel area on the property. The Council would retain the woodland, the meadow, a car park and the agricultural lands as well as the small lodge on the edge of the property.[20][21]

Bodelwyddan Castle Hotel[edit]

Part of the site was leased to the Rank Organisation in 1994 for development into a luxury hotel, Bodelwyddan Castle Hotel,[22] operated by Warner Leisure Hotels. According to the historic listing, the hotel is located "within the domestic yard".

The historic house and grounds are distinct from the hotel, although Warner did consider purchasing the site in 2017.[15][8]

During the closure of the castle to tourists, the hotel area of the property was not affected and continued to operate.[23]


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.[24]

Bodelwyddan Castle Gallery[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Bodelwyddan Castle A Grade II Listed Building in Bodelwyddan, Denbighshire". British Listed Buildings. 6 December 2002. Retrieved 15 January 2021.
  2. ^ [Caring for Our Built Heritage: Conservation in Practice; Tony Haskell, 1993, p.133]
  3. ^ "North Wales castle up for sale". Place North West.
  4. ^ a b "Bodelwyddan Castle which is up for sale and valued at £1million to finally close its doors". RHYL Journal. 28 June 2019. Retrieved 15 January 2021. A covenant stipulates that the main building cannot be converted into a hotel
  5. ^ a b "Bodelwyddan Castle and Park halt public access". RHYL Journal. 10 August 2019. Retrieved 15 January 2021. to make sure that as many of our former visitors as possible were aware that the castle was now closed, especially over this holiday period.
  6. ^ "Bodelwyddan Castle Introduction". National Portrait Gallery. Archived from the original on 5 March 2001. Retrieved 1 December 2007.
  7. ^ Harris, Penelope,The Architectural Achievement of Joseph Aloysius Hansom (1803–1882), The Edwin Mellen Press, 2010, ISBN 0-7734-3851-3.
  8. ^ a b "Bodelwyddan Castle A Grade II Listed Building in Bodelwyddan, Denbighshire". British Listed Buildings. 6 December 2002. Retrieved 15 January 2021.
  9. ^ a b Tony Haskell, Ibid., p.133
  10. ^ "Trenches". Bodelwyddan Castle. Archived from the original on 13 June 2010. Retrieved 1 December 2007.
  11. ^ "Castles for sale in Wales including a haunted home that has appeared on television". Media Wales. 17 November 2020. Retrieved 15 January 2021.
  12. ^ "Lowther College". Archives Network Wales. Retrieved 1 December 2007.[permanent dead link]
  13. ^ "Lowther College". Bodelwyddan Castle. Archived from the original on 8 November 2007. Retrieved 1 December 2007.
  14. ^ "BODELWYDDAN CASTLE TRUST, registered charity no. 1040969". Charity Commission for England and Wales.
  15. ^ a b c "Bodelwyddan Castle Trust concern at decision to sell site". BBC. 3 October 2018. Retrieved 28 June 2019.
  16. ^ "Awards and Winners" (PDF). National Heritage. National Heritage. Retrieved 28 June 2019.
  17. ^ Mills, Eleanor (15 March 2017), Bodelwyddan Castle to sever ties with National Portrait Gallery, Museums Association, retrieved 16 March 2017[permanent dead link]
  18. ^ "Bodelwyddan Castle which is up for sale and valued at £1million to finally close its doors". Rhyl Journal. 28 June 2019. Retrieved 28 June 2019.
  19. ^ "North Wales castle set to be bought and refurbished by hotel group". Business Live. Retrieved 7 September 2022.
  20. ^ "Hotel group buys Bodelwyddan Castle from Denbighshire council". BBC News. Retrieved 7 September 2022. A hotel group has bought a Grade II-listed Victorian castle which has been shut for two years
  21. ^ "History". Bodelwyddan Castle. Archived from the original on 8 November 2007. Retrieved 1 December 2007.
  22. ^ "Bodelwyddan Castle Hotel". Werner Leisure. 26 December 2020. Retrieved 15 January 2021.
  23. ^ "gardens". Bodelwyddan Castle. Archived from the original on 8 November 2007. Retrieved 1 December 2007.


  • 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]

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