January 16th, 2019
The dominating grey walls of Penrhyn Castle occupy one of the finest positions on the North Wales coastline. It overlooks the turbulent Menai Straits to the north, and the majestic mountains of Snowdonia to the south, and the stunning sea views stretch far and wide to Anglesey and along the coast.
But, all is not as it seems at Penrhyn. Although it has all the grandeur and convincing looks of an ancient castle on a grand scale, it is actually a mock Norman castle, built in the mid nineteenth century by architect Thomas Hopper. There has been a manor house on the site since the 1400s and a tower was added in the late eighteenth century.
When the Pennant family asked Hopper to redesign and redevelop it, he changed it almost beyond recognition. Today, it is one of the most famous fantasy castles in Britain. The Pennant family fortunes came from the lucrative Welsh slate mines that they owned nearby (at one time the largest slate quarry in the world), as well as the sweet sugar plants in the Caribbean. The Pennant family owned one of the largest sugar plantations in Jamaica, which grew by marriage and fortuitous business during the nineteenth century.
However, by the middle of the 1900s, the Pennant family fortunes were all but obliterated. The 4th Lord Penrhyn, Hugh Napier Douglas-Pennant died in 1949, leaving the Penrhyn estate to his niece, but she died two years later and the property and land was passed to the government in lieu of death taxes.
Today, the castle is popular with visitors who come to explore the beautiful gardens and 60 acres of grounds, the stunning castle interiors (including the enormous slate bed built for Queen Victoria) and the attractions like the dolls museum, model railway museum and the extensive art collection.
Penrhyn Castle, Bangor, Gwynedd. LL57 4HN 01248 353084
Open – all year (castle closed some Tuesdays). Between and 11:00 and 17:00
Check website (click here) for exact opening times and days. Price: Adult: £14 Child £7 and Family: £35