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Gwrych Castle


The early-19th-century Gwrych Castle, built as a mock castle, is set in wooded hillside overlooking the Irish Sea. Characterised by gothic park walling, lodges, and towers, it is now derelict and has the remains of a large-scale walled and turretted terraced garden.

Visitor Access, Directions & Contacts

The estates and lands in North Wales at Llandulas and Abergele had been owned for several hundred years by the Lloyd family. Their home on this site was called Y Fron (rounded hill).

In 1787, the heiress, Frances Lloyd married Robert Bamford-Hesketh. Their son and heir, Lloyd Hesketh Bamford-Hesketh inherited the estate and built Gwrych Castle between 1812 and 1822. In 1825 he married Lady Emily Esther Ann Lygon, the youngest daughter of 1st Earl of Beauchamp. The castle was extended in the 1840s.

When Lloyd died the castle and estates passed to his son, Robert Bamford-Hesketh and his wife Ellen Jones-Bateman and it was they who planted most of the gardens along with many monkey puzzle and yew trees.

The estate was inherited in 1894 by Winifred Bamford-Hesketh who, after marrying the Earl of Dundonald, became Countess Dundonald. Her husband had a distinguished military career and she brought the children up at Gwrych becoming involved in local affairs.

When she died in 1924 she bequeathed the castle to King George V who declined it. It was then given to St John of Jerusalem. In 1925 the Earl of Dundonald bought back the estate for £78,000 and then sold the contents to recover the costs.

During World War 2 the castle was used to house 200 Jewish refugees.

In 1946 the 13th Earl of Dundonald sold the estate and in 1948 it was opened to the public. During its time it was used as a bar and restaurant. This lasted for 20 years.

The estate has passed through many hands, some with grand designs for a luxury hotel. Recent developments (2014) suggest that may happen in the near future.

Features & Designations


  • CADW Register of Landscapes Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in Wales

  • Reference: PGW(Gd)58(CON)
  • Grade: II*
  • CADW Register of Listed Buildings in Wales

  • Reference: Gwrych Castle
  • Grade: I
  • CADW Register of Listed Buildings in Wales

  • Reference: Tan-yr-ogof buildings
  • Grade: II*


  • Castle (featured building)
  • Earliest Date:
  • Garden Terrace
Key Information





Principal Building

Domestic / Residential


Part: standing remains




  • Mike Topping