Owned and run by the National Trust, Penrhyn Castle is an 18th Century manor house located on the edge of the Snowdonia National Park. Built with money from the local slate quarries the house is beautifully furnished in keeping with the design of the building and set in a large garden. This is a great place to visit with a tea shop selling a range of fresh cakes and sandwiches,
Penrhyn Castle is a bit of a misnomer – to call it a castle is to stretch the truth a little bit. That’s not to say it doesn’t look like a castle, however, though it is in actual fact a country house. This manor house is about as close to a castle as a manor house can get, being of a truly impressive size, and heavily fortified with stone.
Ioan ap Gruffudd was granted a licence to fortify his medieval manor house back in 1438, transforming it into a stone castle and building an additional tower house. Unfortunately, that particular property no longer exists, as it was extensively reconstructed by the English architect and engineer, Samuel Wyatt, towards the end of the 18th century. This is the building that stands to this day.
Nowadays, the mock castle is a National Trust property, meaning it is open for visitors to explore and admire at their leisure. It is a widely admired property, with the late architectural historian Christopher Hussey calling it “the outstanding instance of Norman revival”. The property is truly picturesque, a quality that has led it to be the subject of many a painting over the centuries.
The beauty of Penrhyn Castle should perhaps come as no surprise: it has recently been estimated that the Pennant family would have spent upwards on £150,000 on its construction, despite the fact that a lot of the timber came from their own forestry, and much of the workforce came from the slate quarry that they owned. Nevertheless, this figure is roughly equivalent to almost £50,000,000 in today’s currency, a truly staggering amount.
Inside the property, visitors are able to view a wide array of fascinating items from throughout the area’s history. These artefacts include a bed that was made for Queen Victoria, and which weighs more than a ton, as it was made out of Pennant slate. The collection of paintings within is an exceptional one, one which is worth the price of admission alone, while the mock Norman furniture is also outstanding.
Within the stable block you will find something else entirely: two separate museums, one dedicated to the industrial railways, and another featuring model railways. Train aficionados will be well at home here.
The Castle is also home to some rather extensive grounds. The gardens measure an impressive 60 acres, with the star attraction being the beautiful Victorian walled garden. Make sure to view the exotic shrub collection, too.
Penrhyn Castle attracts a rather diverse crowd, in part because it is also believed to be home to some more ethereal inhabitants – it is rumoured to be haunted! Come to Penrhyn in October if this interests you, as the castle hosts a variety of spooky evening ghost walks.
There is plenty to interest all types of visitors here at Penrhyn Castle, and that’s without taking into account its location by the northern coast of Wales, just outside of the Snowdonia National Park. Click here to find out more about the area, and about our accommodation within.
On the outskirts of Bangor
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