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Penrhyn Castle, Snowdonia

The castle courtesy Visit Wales Penrhyn is a fake Norman Revival castle built between 1820-1840. It has 150 rooms with 70 roofs. Covering over an acre of ground and 200 yards in length, it is a statement of arrival in the wealthy class. Built of Anglesey limestone between 1820-1840, it was commissioned by George H Dawkins and designed by Thomas Hooper. The fake castle comes complete with a 124 foot high attached keep.

Daffodils in grounds by Pam Brophy courtesy Geograph The name of the castle comes from a cousin, Richard Pennant, 1st baron Penrhyn (c1739-1808) who willed him estates and money. Pennant had built a gothic style castle on the site and the new castle swallowed it up along with a medieval manor house.

Heraldic glass courtesy National Trust The paintings in the castle include family portraits and old masters. The latter were collected by Dawkins’s heir, who also added more estates to his portfolio along with developing the largest slate quarry in the world.

Cook's sitting room courtesy National Trust The downstairs servants’ quarters are as interesting as the upstairs to see. There was no shortage of servants with 45 in the house, 30 in the gardens and 10 in the stables. 55 bells that rang from specific rooms to fetch the servant needed give mute testimony to a long gone way of life. A butler’s pantry, servants’ hall, lamp room, coal yard, oil vault, brushing room, pastry room, china room, chef’s room, great kitchen, sculleries, larders, and housekeeper’s room (now a tea-room) were in this complex of rooms.

Grand lodge gate by Nigel Williams courtesy Geograph A brewhouse, soup kitchen, and ice house were located in the outer yard. In the stable block is an industrial railway museum with quarrying locomotives, a doll museum, and a model railway museum.

Bog garden by Rob Bishop courtesy Geograph The 60 acres of grounds with a tree and shrub collection have a number of walks. A Victorian walled garden lies west of the castle.

Tour of the House

Entrance gallery: a narrow passage added to the castle for effect.
Grand hall: copied to resemble the transept of a Norman cathedral with cluster columns, a triforium and stained glass windows; large fireplace; passage on the left leads to family’s private apartments n the keep; passage on the right leads to service quarters; passage ahead leads to state

Billiard table courtesy National Trust Library: much ornate decoration on walls (panelled) and ceiling; oak bookcases; stained glass above windows; chimneypiece with carvings in marble; slate billiard table and frame.

Drawing room courtesy the Museum Drawing room: formerly the entrance hall; slender columns; 2000 gilt stars on the ceiling; oak pelmets; early 1800s Axminster carpet; large mirrors with dolphin carved tables underneath; spiral staircase from the medieval house.

Ebony room: early 1800s ebony furniture; cut velvet upholstered pieces; Flemish altarpiece.

Grand staircase hall: carved in two kinds of stones and took 10 years to complete; panels of plasterwork in the dome.

State bedroom courtesy National Trust State bedroom and dressing room on second floor: suite used by Queen Victoria in 1859; large carved oak bed designed by Hopper; hand-painted Chinese wallpaper of late 1700s. large wardrobe; figure of Pluto dates from 1530; candlestick dates from c 1740.

Grand hall gallery: stained glass lights; pictures.

Keep bedrooms: two suites of dressing room, bedroom, bathroom, and sitting room; former family rooms; redecorated since castle building; watercolours.

King’s bedroom: brass bed used by Prince of Wales in 1894, silk and linen hangings by Morris; Morris wallpaper; watercolours.

Slate bedroom: slate bed with twisted columns and carving and hangings by William Morris; chimneypiece of Anglesey marble.

Ante room or slate dressing room: large watercolours.

Lower India room: Chinese c 1800 wallpaper; large wardrobe of same period with Chinese lacquer panels; 17th century lacquer chests.

Chapel courtesy National Trust Chapel: once the chapel of the medieval manor house, moved to its present location; perpendicular gothic window; gallery; painted and stained glass windows.

Grand hall: two stone tables designed by Hopper, one of slate and one of limestone.

Dining Room courtesy National Trust photo library Dining room: used as a picture room as well as a dining room; stencil paintings on walls; family portraits and old masters paintings; ebony chairs; silver and silver gilt trophies won by family’s racehorses; carved black marble chimneypiece.

Breakfast room courtesy National Trust Breakfast room: used for casual family dining; silk damask walls; collection of painting masterpieces includes Rembrandt, Canaletto, and 17th century Spanish school.

Visitor Information

Penrhyn Castle
One mile east of Bangor, on the A5122
Gwynedd Snowdonia
Tel. 0 1248 353 084
Open: house, March-end Oct, daily, noon-5pm; garden, parkland, museum, coffee shop, shop, March-end Oct, daily noon 5pm, until 3pm Jan, Feb, Nov, Dec
National Trust property; coffee shop; parking; shop; museum exhibition on slate quarrying

Photo of castle exterior courtesy Visit Wales
Photos as follows courtesy Geograph Britain and Ireland:
Bog garden by Rob Bishop; Daffodils in grounds by Pam Brophy; Grand lodge gate by Nigel Williams
Photos as follows courtesy National Trust Photo library:
Heraldic glass, cook’s sitting room, billiard table, drawing room, state bedroom, chapel, dining room, and breakfast room.

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