Mark Baker (author)

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Mark Baker
Born (1985-04-16) 16 April 1985 (age 33)
Alma materCardiff University (MA, PhD)
OccupationArchitectural historian and author
Years active1997–present

Mark Baker (born 16 April 1985) is an architectural historian, social climber, an author of several books on country houses, estates and their families, and a politician. Baker has contributed to several television series and programmes.[1] He became a Welsh Conservative Party councillor for Gele in May 2017.[2]

Early years and education[edit]

Baker was educated at Rydal Penrhos School, Colwyn Bay, and later attended the University of Wales, Bangor, in 2003, from which graduated with a BA in history and archaeology in 2006.[3] Baker's MA was taken at Cardiff University and focussed on the Gothic Revival in Wales.[citation needed]

Baker then undertook PhD studies researching the development of Welsh Country Houses,[4] during which he discovered the earliest known image of Hafod Uchtryd, Devil's Bridge.[5] Baker was made a member of the National Trust Committee for Wales in 2009 (later renamedthe Wales Advisory Board).[6] In 2011, Baker curated 'Welsh Architecture from the Salisbury Collection: A Selection of Original Artworks' from Cardiff University archives.[7]

Gwrych Castle Preservation Trust[edit]

In 1997, Baker founded ASFOG (A Society For the Friends of Gwrych). The organisation changed its name in 2001 to Gwrych Castle Preservation Trust and became a registered charity.[8] The Trust aims to raise awareness of Gwrych’s plight and also to establish a solution for the conservation and preservation of the castle. Baker spearheaded a campaign for the building's restorationthat proved fruitful when the Trust precipitated the sale of the castle by pursuing compulsory purchase action. This earned Baker recognition within the heritage world and he was made the youngest honorary life member of SAVE Britain's Heritage.[9]

Historical research[edit]

Baker's first book was published at the age of 13 in 1999 on the rise and fall of Gwrych Castle, Abergele by Gwasg Helygain.[10] Baker went on to publish further books on Gwrych Castle in 2000, 2003 and 2006.[11] Through research at Royal Institute of British Architects it was discovered that the marble staircase at Gwrych Castle had been designed by Detmar Blow as part of a major refurbishment of the castle in 1914. This research was presented as a lecture at the National Museum of Wales, Cathays Park, Cardiff, as part of their St. David's Day celebrations in 2012.[12]

In 2005 Baker published a history of Hafodunos, Llangernyw, a Victorian gothic building and the only example of domestic architecture to be built in Wales by George Gilbert Scott.[13] Baker has been working with the current owner of Hafodunos on its restoration.[14]

Baker published a detailed study of Plas Teg, near Mold, in 2006.[15][16] He contributed to Plas Teg's appearance on Obsessive Compulsive Cleaners: Country House Rescue, shown on Channel 4 in July 2015.

Baker's A Royal Home in Wales: Llwynywermod was the first book to explore the history of The Prince of Wales’ home in Wales, which he had purchased in 2006. It details the history of the Llwynywermod estate and was commissioned by the Welsh Historic Gardens Trust.[17]

In March 2013, Baker was appointed historical researcher for S4C living history television series, Y Plas. The research was based on Baker's PhD thesis and featured houses such as Llanerchaeron, Gwrych Castle, Hafodunos, Plas Teg and Brynkir.[citation needed] In November 2013, to coincide with the broadcast of the television series, a book titled Y Plas: The Story of the Welsh Country House was published,[18] co-authored by Baker, Dewi Gregory and Sian Price.[19]

Baker worked with Linda Lamb on a collection of songs based on the poems of Margaret Sandbach of Hafodunos[20] which was released as an album in 2012.[citation needed] Sandbach was a prolific author and playwright who died of breast cancer in 1852.[21] With the aid of an Arts Council Wales grant, Baker and Gregory wrote a book based on her life, published in 2013.[citation needed] He also led a project based around Sandbach, John Gibson and Hafodunos which involved school children from the villages of Llangernyw and Eglwysbach, as well as adult art groups from north Wales.[22]

Brynkir, Dolbenmaen[edit]

In 2012, Baker led a Cardiff University archaeological dig at Plas Brynkir, Dolbenmaen, in order to record the historic fabric of the two mansion houses.[23] Again, in 2013, Baker went back to excavate Brynkir and discovered that the site had originated as a deer park, possibly created by Llywelyn the Great as part of a wider hunting landscape associated with the royal court at Dolbenmaen.[24] The project featured collaborations with a variety of groups and organisations.[25]

After a third season of excavation in 2014, a collection of academic essays was published by historic buildings charity, Love My Wales, with Baker acting as editor.[26]

Artistic Collaborations[edit]

Since 2006, Mark Baker has been developing artistic collaborations with a variety of artists for work with historic sites.[27] Notably, Ceri Leeder, of Eglwysbach, Conwy, has worked several times with Baker, providing the cover images for Llwynywermod: A Royal Home in Wales and Plas Brynkir, Dolbenmaen.[28] Antonia Dewhurst has also had a long-standing collaboration with Baker, and her photography work has been featured in Margaret Sandbach: A Tragedy in Marble and Ink, Y Plas: The Story of the Welsh Country House and Plas Brynkir, Dolbenmaen.[29] North Wales artist, Liz Bolloten, contributed several paintings of Plas Brynkir, which were featured during an exhibition at Golan, Dolbenmaen, Gwynedd, the launch of Plas Brynkir, Dolbenmaen, in December 2014.[30]

In 2014, Baker collaborated with Marc Rees, for [31] The artwork of J. Walkter Richards, which had been discovered by Baker in 2013, was featured in displays throughout Llandudno for the duration of the LLAWN02 festival.[32]

Heritage campaigning[edit]

On 1 September 2008, Forgotten Welsh Houses was published, sponsored by the Georgian Group and SAVE Britain's Heritage.[33] To coincide with this release, the Georgian Group commissioned Baker to research and write Welsh Country Houses Illustrated.[34] Baker is a regular commentator on Welsh architectural and heritage matters.[35] Baker has been involved with the restoration of Hay Castle, Hay-on-Wye,[36] and has presented at the Hay Festival.[37]


Forgotten Welsh Houses formed the basis for BBC One's 'Hidden Homes of Wales', broadcast in 2010, and for ITV Wales's Grand Declines, broadcast in 2012.[38]

Published works[edit]

  • 1999. The rise and fall of Gwrych Castle. Prestatyn: Mark Baker.
  • 2000. Gwrych Castle, Abergele and Llanddulas – A pictorial history. Prestatyn: Mark Baker.
  • 2003. The rise and fall of Gwrych Castle, including Winifred, Countess of Dundonald – a biography. Prestatyn: Mark Baker.
  • 2005. Hafodunos Hall, Llangernyw – Triumph of the Martyr. Prestatyn: Mark Baker.
  • 2006. The Myths and Legends of the Gwrych Castle Estate. Prestatyn: Brampton House Publishing.
  • 2006. Plas Teg – A Jacobean Country House. Hope: Brampton House Publishing. (Revised Second Edition released 2007)
  • 2007. Abergele & District – A Pictorial Past. Cardiff: Brampton House Publishing. (With Michael Roberts)
  • 2008. Forgotten Welsh Houses. Llanrwst: Hendre House Publishing.
  • 2008. A Royal Home in Wales: Llwynywermod. Cardiff: Accent Press.
  • 2008. Welsh Country Houses Illustrated. London: Georgian Group.
  • 2013. Y Plas: Story of the Welsh Country House. Cardiff: Truth Department.(With Dewi Gregory and Sian Price)
  • 2013. Margaret Sandbach: A Tragedy in Marble and Ink. Abergele: Gwrych Castle Preservation Trust (With Dewi Gregory)
  • 2014. Plas Brynkir, Dolbenmaen. Cardiff: Love My Wales. (Editor)
  • 2015. Fifty Buildings that Built Wales. Cardiff: Graffeg. (With David Wilson and Greg Stevenson)


  1. ^ 19:00 (2010-10-26). "BBC Two – Snowdonia 1890, Uncovered, Episode 1". Retrieved 2017-08-22.
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-04-03. Retrieved 2015-03-26.
  4. ^ "People – School of History, Archaeology and Religion – Cardiff University". 2017-03-03. Retrieved 2017-08-22.
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-04-02. Retrieved 2015-03-26.
  6. ^ Darren Devine (2014-11-27). "Heritage expert warns Wales's historic buildings face bleak future". Wales Online. Retrieved 2017-08-22.
  7. ^ "Special Collections and Archives – Cardiff University". 2017-08-15. Retrieved 2017-08-22.
  8. ^ "Gwrych Castle Preservation Trust | Home of the Gwrych Trust". Retrieved 2017-08-22.
  9. ^ "10% of Wales' listed buildings may be lost, says expert – BBC News". Retrieved 2017-08-22.
  10. ^ WalesOnline. "I save the castle". Wales Online. Retrieved 2017-08-22.
  11. ^
  12. ^ "National Museum Cardiff Spring and Summer Guide 2012 by Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales". issuu. 2012-02-22. Retrieved 2017-08-22.
  13. ^ "BBC Arlein | Newyddion | Hafodunos: Cyhoeddi llyfr". BBC News. 2005-10-14. Retrieved 2017-08-22.
  14. ^ Darren Devine. "Historic Hafodunos Hall to rise from the ashes". Wales Online. Retrieved 2017-08-22.
  15. ^ North Wales Daily Post. "Author: There's more to Plas Teg than ghosts..." Daily Post. Retrieved 2017-08-22.
  16. ^ Baker, Mark (2010-03-02). "BBC – Plas Teg: Exploring the hall's history". BBC News. Retrieved 2017-08-22.
  17. ^ Robin Turner. "Book traces history of Prince's Llwynywermod estate". Wales Online. Retrieved 2017-08-22.
  18. ^ S4C (2013-11-12). "Y Plas: The Story of The Welsh Country House | S4C Caban". Retrieved 2017-08-22.
  19. ^ Darren Devine. "Inside Wales' very own Downton Abbeys: The remarkable Welsh country homes steeped in history". Wales Online. Retrieved 2017-08-22.
  20. ^ "Techno star to sing the work of 19th century Welsh poet". Wales Online. 14 November 2011.
  21. ^ "Margaret Sandbach © Orlando Project". Retrieved 2017-08-22.
  22. ^
  23. ^ "BBC News – Plas Brynkir in Gwynedd reveals its hidden past". 2012-08-14. Retrieved 2017-08-22.
  24. ^ "Medieval deer park history revealed at Gwynedd site – BBC News". Retrieved 2017-08-22.
  25. ^
  26. ^ "Uncovering the story…". Cambrian News. Archived from the original on 2015-04-02. Retrieved 2018-03-13.
  27. ^ "Gwrych Castle – Ceri Leeder". YouTube. 2015-10-05. Retrieved 2017-08-22.
  28. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-12-17. Retrieved 2015-03-26.
  29. ^ "Photography". Retrieved 2017-08-22.
  30. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-04-02. Retrieved 2015-03-26.
  31. ^ "LLAWN02 – VINYL VISITORS". LLAWN. Archived from the original on 2014-08-19. Retrieved 2018-03-13.
  32. ^ "Forgotten North Wales Artist Takes Centre Stage at LLAWN02". Blazing Minds. Archived from the original on 2014-08-18. Retrieved 2018-03-13.
  33. ^ "In Pictures | In pictures: Forgotten houses". BBC News. 2009-05-06. Retrieved 2017-08-22.
  34. ^ Archived 2015-04-02 at the Wayback Machine.
  35. ^ "BBC – Writers drawn to Llanddulas mansion". BBC News. 2009-12-01. Retrieved 2017-08-22.
  36. ^ by myfavouritesweets (2014-05-26). "Hay Castle Tour – MAKING HAY at the Hay Festival". Retrieved 2017-08-22.
  37. ^ "2014". Hay Festival. 2014-05-25. Retrieved 2017-08-22.
  38. ^ 3 April 2012 at 10:29am (2012-04-03). "3,000 Welsh heritage sites in danger of falling down | Wales – ITV News". Retrieved 2017-08-22.

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