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. 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,[1] as of 2019, it is up for sale.[2]


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 1680–1681.[3]

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.[4] 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".[5] 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.[6] 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 Florence Lindley.[7] Lowther College purchased the property five years later, in 1925.[5] 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.[8]

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.[9]

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.[10][11] 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.[11][12] The castle's association with the National Portrait Gallery came to an end in 2017 after its funding was cut by Denbighshire County Council.[13]

In 2017 Denbighshire County Council decided to sell the site, with the museum and gardens closing in 2019.[10][14]

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,[15] 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.[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.[16]

Bodelwyddan Castle Gallery[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Caring for Our Built Heritage: Conservation in Practice; Tony Haskell, 1993, p.133
  2. ^ "North Wales castle up for sale". Place North West.
  3. ^ "Bodelwyddan Castle Introduction". National Portrait Gallery. Archived from the original on 2001-03-05. Retrieved 2007-12-01.
  4. ^ Harris, Penelope,The Architectural Achievement of Joseph Aloysius Hansom (1803–1882), The Edwin Mellen Press, 2010, ISBN 0-7734-3851-3.
  5. ^ a b Tony Haskell, Ibid., p.133
  6. ^ "Trenches". Bodelwyddan Castle. Archived from the original on 2010-06-13. Retrieved 2007-12-01.
  7. ^ "Lowther College". Archives Network Wales. Retrieved 2007-12-01.[permanent dead link]
  8. ^ "Lowther College". 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. ^ a b c "Bodelwyddan Castle Trust concern at decision to sell site". BBC. 3 October 2018. Retrieved 28 June 2019.
  11. ^ "Awards and Winners" (PDF). National Heritage. National Heritage. Retrieved 28 June 2019.
  12. ^ Mills, Eleanor (15 March 2017), Bodelwyddan Castle to sever ties with National Portrait Gallery, Museums Association, retrieved 16 March 2017
  13. ^ "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.
  14. ^ "History". Bodelwyddan Castle. Archived from the original on 2007-11-08. Retrieved 2007-12-01.
  15. ^ "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