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BODELWYDDAN CASTLE

Site Details

© Copyright and database right 2021. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey licence number 0100022206

NPRN 35997

Map Reference SH97SE

Grid Reference SH9995374824

Unitary (Local) Authority Denbighshire

Old County Flintshire

Community Bodelwyddan

Type of Site COUNTRY HOUSE

Broad Class DOMESTIC

Period Post Medieval, Multiperiod, 19th Century, 17th Century

Site Description Originally built in the late-seventeenth century as a mansion house for the Humphreys family, Bodelwyddan Castle was purchased in c.1690 by Sir William Williams (1634–1700). The mansion remained largely unaltered throughout the eighteenth century – an image of the building from the 1781 eight-volume illustrated edition of Thomas Pennant’s Tour in Wales shows a double-pile house consisting of two storeys and attic with dormered attic windows and prominent chimneys. There were two advanced wings at the ends of the south-east front, flanking the façade containing a central entrance.

The south-east front was altered in 1805 by Sir John Williams (First Baronet) who remodelled the house in the Greek Revival style and added a Doric loggia to the central bays of the south-east facade. Further and more drastic alterations occurred under his son, Sir John Hay Williams (1794–1859). Under the architectural direction of Hansom and Welsh from the early 1830s to the early 1840s, the structure was enlarged and transformed into a nineteenth-century Gothic castle with stone facing, castellated parapets and turrets and curtain walls as well as statuary, although elements of the earlier nineteenth-century remodelling survive both inside and out. (For wings within the curtain walls see NPRNs 54203-54220 and 54232.) In c.1860, the castle became the seat of a model estate under Lady Margaret Willoughby de Boke (daughter of Sir John Williams of Bodelwyddan Castle). Although the family’s finances had become stretched by the late nineteenth century, in part owing to the decline of their lead mining interests, the house was further remodelled in 1876 by Sir William Grenville Williams. The estate was sold in 1918 by Sir William Willoughby Williams.

The grounds were utilised by the Army during the First World War, and the practice trenches constructed there were reconstructed in the grounds in 2015. After the war, the property passed to the War Office before being leased in 1920 by Florence Lindley and becoming Lowther College, a private school for girls which purchased the freehold to the property in 1925. The school closed in 1982 and the freehold was purchased later in the 1980s by Clwyd County Council. Part of the main house and outbuildings became the Bodelwyddan Castle Hotel with new structures built to the south and west of the main house. The remainder of the house, under the direction of the Bodelwyddan Castle Trust, houses a museum and art gallery.

(Sources: Cadw Listed Buildings Database, 1383; Dictionary of Welsh Biography Online, s.v. Williams, Sir William (1634–1700); Thomas Pennant, Tour in Wales, 8 vols. (1778–1781) (Digitized by the National Library of Wales); Edward Hubbard, Buildings of Wales: Clwyd (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1986), p. 325)
A.N. Coward, RCAHMW, 02.01.2019

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