April 21, 2011
The first castle at the site was built by the Normans in the early 12th century and siezed and rebuilt in stone by the Welsh prince Rhys ap Gruffydd of Deheubarth in 1170.
The castle was then destroyed by the Roundheads during the English Civil War and was not rebuilt again until 1819 at the bequest of Lloyd Hesketh Bamford-Hesketh.
The castle was extended in the 1840s, and when Lloyd died the Castle passed onto Robert Bamford-Hesketh and his wife, Ellen, who then passed i ton to Winifred, Countess of Dundonald.
The castle remained the residence of the Dundonald family until Winifred’s death in 1924, when ownership of the castle passed to the Venerable Order of Saint John. The castle had been left to King George V in the Countesses will, but he declined the gift. In 1928, the Earl of Dundonald (Winifred’s husband) bought the castle back for £78,000, selling the contents to meet the cost.
During the Second World War, the castle was requisitioned by the Government and used to house 200 Jewish refugees, and following the war the castle opened to the public for the first time. Known as the Showpiece of Wales, the castle attracted many visitors and proved to be very popular.
In the early 1950s, Gwrych Castle was used as the training venue for English World Middleweight boxing champion Randy Turpin. A decade later, it became an occasional venue for the famous Motorcycle Dragon Rally and in the 1970s was used as a centre for medieval re-enactments, attracting tourists with such events as jousting and mock banquets until closing to the public in 1985.
In 1996, the now by now derelict castle was used as a the backdrop for Prince Valiant, a movie starring Katherine Heigl, Joanna Lumley and Edward Fox.
There have been numerous attempts to renovate and redevelop the castle, with large amounts of money spent on clearing the site and preparing it for redevelopment. At the moment, the castle is in the hands of a Preservation Trust who work hard to maintain and conserve the building.
Grwych Castle, Llanddulas, Conwy LL22
See the Grwych Castle Preservation Trust website for latest information.