Penrhyn Castle

I can’t quite remember how Penrhyn Castle came up in my research as things to do in North Wales but it ended up being my favourite destination. It’s one of those rare National Trust properties that’s easy to get to by public transport. Closer to Bangor than Conwy it’s a pleasant 40 minutes by bus from Conwy town centre (Arriva buses have a very handy app that worked well and an all day ticket covering North Wales cost me £6.50). The bus stop is right outside the entrance to the castle although there is then a gentle mile walk down the driveway to the ticket office and round to the castle itself.

The castle really is beautiful but also weighed down by its history. The National Trust, quite rightly, makes it clear that the long line of owners of the castle got their money off the backs of Jamaican slaves and that the man ultimately responsible for the building as it is today, George Hay Dawkins-Pennant consistently voted against the emancipation of slaves in the British Empire. Throughout the castle there is commentary and poems from visiting school children showcasing their feelings about this part of the castle’s history.

There’s been a building on the site since the fifteenth century when it was a fortified manor house. It was rebuilt between 1819 and 1835 by the architect Thomas Hopper who decided the castle would benefit from a neo-Norman design. Not only did he oversee the design of the building but of the furniture and carpets too.

In 1900 exploitation of the Welsh workers in the Penrhyn Slate Quarry near Bethesda, North Wales, led to one of the longest running industrial disputes in British history (though the current government may be trying to go for a new record). The dispute involved union rights, pay and working conditions.

One of the most impressive parts of the interior is the Grand Hall and its stained glass windows depicting signs of the Zodiac and illustrating the months of the year. The designer was Thomas Willement, Heraldic Artist to George IV and the leading stained glass designer in Britain. It dates from 1835 and while the exact cost isn’t recorded estimates place it at an eye-watering £123,000.

The Grand Staircase is another part of the castle that really stands out. Designed to impress, which it has surely achieved, it took over a decade to complete and no two carvings are alike. It is made from limestone and grey sandstone. There are more impressive carvings throughout this part of the castle that decorate various corridors as well.

The castle came under the care of the National Trust in 1951 and is free for members. Otherwise it’s £10.50 for an adult. Next up are posts about an unexpected museum on the castle grounds, and then the castle gardens. You can find more photos here.

Categories: Wales | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “Penrhyn Castle

  1. Pingback: The Railway Museum at Penrhyn Castle | Louise Jayne's Blog

  2. Pingback: Penrhyn Castle Gardens | Louise Jayne's Blog

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