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 is a Grade II* listed building. Having been opened to the public as a historic house museum, as of 2019, it is up for sale.
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. 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". 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. Traces of these trenches can still be seen.
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. Lowther College purchased the property five years later, in 1925. 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.
Museum and arts centre
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.
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. The portrait gallery opened in 1988 and was named Museum of the Year in 1989. The castle's association with the National Portrait Gallery came to an end in 2017 after its funding was cut by Denbighshire County Council.
Bodelwyddan Castle Hotel
Part of the site was leased to the Rank Organisation in 1994 for development into a luxury hotel, Bodelwyddan Castle Hotel, and is now run by Warner Leisure Hotels. The historic house and grounds are not part of the hotel, although Warner did consider purchasing the site in 2017.
Bodelwyddan Castle Gallery
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- Harris, Penelope,The Architectural Achievement of Joseph Aloysius Hansom (1803–1882), The Edwin Mellen Press, 2010, ISBN 0-7734-3851-3.
- Tony Haskell, Ibid., p.133
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- Charity Commission. BODELWYDDAN CASTLE TRUST, registered charity no. 1040969.
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- 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.
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