Grid Ref: SH 998 754
Dates: 9 May 2016



Bodelwyddan Castle
Approach to Bodelwyddan Castle
Bodelwyddan Castle
The towers of Bodelwyddan Castle

Bodelwyddan spacer Bodelwyddan Castle
Through the arch   Detail of windows


Bodelwyddan Castle is near Rhyl, Denbighshire in North Wales. The original structure was built around 1460 by the Humphreys family of Anglesey as a manor house. The castle was bought from the Humphreys by Sir William Williams (1634 – 1700). He was a Welsh lawyer and politician. He served as a Member of Parliament for Chester and later Beaumaris, and was appointed Speaker for two English Parliaments during the reign of Charles II. His family owned the property for about 200 years. The Williams family grew rich on the profits of lead mining in North Wales. Sir John Williams 1st Baronet, remodeled the property in 1805 into a Greek Revival style and then it 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 modifications made it into the castellated style. Although not mentioned in the Wikipedia article, the British Listed Buildings site reports that further alterations and additions were carried out by Sir William Grenville Williams in 1876; his monogram and that of his wife are featured in the floor tiling of the entrance hall and the Watts Hall, where the date 1886 appears in combination with the family's cross-foxes crest. The architect of this work is not known but may have been John Gibson (the architect of the parish church completed in 1860). Sir William died in 1904 and under his successor, Sir William Willoughby Williams, with further financial losses, the estate was sold in 1918. (Leased in 1920 and sold in 1925 according to Wikipedia.)

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 become too great and the property was leased to Lowther College, a girls' private school that had been formed in 1896 at Lytham St. Annes in Lancashire. Lowther College purchased the property in 1925. The school closed in 1982 due to financial problems. 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. In 2019 the site was put up for sale.

My photograpsh were taken in 2016 on a trip by an arts group from Wilmslow Guild when we were all most impressed by the collection of pictures. It is sad to hear of its demise. The adjacent Warner Hotel is still open.


Note that the Wikipedia article on Bodelwyddan Castle gives information not quoted by the British Listed Buildings site. It states that work was carried out in the 1880s by Sir Herbert, 7th Baronet, who inherited Bodelwyddan Castle from his heirless cousin. However, the link gives his name as Sir Herbert Lloyd Watkin Williams-Wynn, the son of Colonel Herbert Watkin Williams-Wynn and states that he inherited the baronetcy on the death of his father-in-law and uncle Sir Watkin Williams-Wynn, 6th Baronet in May 1885. This is a different family to the Williams of Bodelwyddan. A further Wikipedia article on some 20 Williams families shows nine Williams baronets of Bodelwyddan. None is called Herbert and the 7th is called Sir Reginald Lawrence William Williams, born 40 years after Sir Herbert. For the record, I quote the list of Williams baronets of Bodelwyddan below.


Abridged from information on the Wikipedia page on Bodelwyddan with additions and corrections from the British Listed Buildings site.

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