Gwrych Castle is a 19th century mock castle near Abergele in Conwy County borough, North Wales. The castle was built between 1819 and 1825 at the behest of Lloyd Hesketh Bamford-Hesketh as his private residence.
In1894 Gwrych Castle became the official residence of Winifred Cochrane the Countess of Dundonald, she brought up her children there and sincerely loved it. The Countess died, in 1924 she left the castle in her will to King George V and the then Prince of Wales (who later became King Edward VIII). However, the gift was refused and the castle passed to the Venerable Order of Saint John. In 1928, the Earl of Dundonald purchased the castle for £78,000, selling the contents to meet the cost.
During World War II, the Government used the castle to house 200 Jewish refugees. Following the war, the castle left the Dundonald family and it was open to the public for twenty years. It was called The Showpiece of Wales at this time and attracted many visitors. It was also used as a training venue for the English World Middleweight boxing champion Randy Turpin.
Between 1968 and 1989 the Castle had many owners and many different uses. The library was turned into a bar; Winifred's music room and drawing room were converted into a large bar lounge and the gargantuan dining room into a restaurant. During the latter part of the 1970's Gwrych became a medieval centre where markets were held and jousting took place upon the site of the old formal gardens and conservatory. In 1996 the movie Prince Valiant was filmed at Gwrych Castle, starred Edward Fox and Joanna Lumley.
Clayton Hotels bought the castle in June 2006 for £850,000 after it failed to reach its £1.5m reserve price at the 2 June auction. On 30 April 2007 Clayton Hotels announced a 3 year project, costing £6,000,000, to renovate the castle and convert it into a 90 bedroom, 5 Star hotel. Work has yet to start on the project, several paranormal groups have been given permission to explore the castle and investigate the reports of ghosts at Gwrych.
The main entrance to the Castle would have seen all of the notable guests arriving to visit the Countess when she was in residence. It has been described over the years by psychics as being highly active, the ghosts of those who have gone before still pass through. Today little remains of the entrance halls former splendour, the ceiling plaster has come away, the fireplace is burnt out, and the wooden panelling has gone. Breeze block prevents light from entering the room, the stained glass smashed and the leaded windows broken.
During the 1930's and early 1940's Bill Price was the caretaker at Gwrych, each night he would check the doors were secure. When he got near the old library, he would always hesitate as he felt he was being watched, his little dog would refuse to enter the room, her hair stood on end. Bill reported to the 13th Earl that when he came to open up and air the rooms in the morning the library would be unlocked, and the furniture moved, this happened on several occasions. There was never anything missing, the doors had not been forced, and Bill had the only key. It must be noted that Mr. Price and the Countess did not get on terribly well, so maybe their problems continued after her death.
In the 1970's a psychic visited Gwrych and stayed for a few weeks, during the winter months. Whilst she was there she was drawn to a particular room in the servant's quarters, the men's room. A spirit contacted her, whispering in her ear that there was a secret way into the hillside. She set off to investigate, but whilst near the servant's stairs she has a horrific grasping pain in her chest and collapsed (In 1915 the Butler suffered a fatal heart attack on these stairs). The next day the woman left Gwrych Castle never to return.
A ghost was recently photographed at Gwrych Castle, the apparition of a young lady looking out from a window, the photo was taken by Kevin Horkin. When taking the photograph he did not notice the ghostly figure it was only whilst he was downloading the photos that he noticed the figure of the young girl.
The floor in the room in which the girl is standing collapsed many years ago so the figure is not that of a visitor to the castle. Some researchers belive the ghostly figure is that of the Winifred Cochrane, the Countess of Dundonald. Harry Moffitt a former photographer in the area believes the ghost is that of a servant girl who she fell from her horse and died on the estate.