The Gwrych Castle Estate is situated between the town of Abergele and the village of Llanddulas, overlooking the Irish Sea. It was designed by Lloyd Hesketh Bamford-Hesketh on his ancestral lands and embodies the ideals of the Romantic Movement.
While the Grade I listed house is unquestionably one of the finest examples of a castellated mansion in Britain, the designed landscape, begun in the early 1700s by the Lloyds of Gwrych, is of outstanding importance too, as one of the great achievements of the picturesque in Wales.
From the caves at Cefn-yr-Ogof to Lady Emily’s Tower, and from the Nant-y-Bella bridge to the Iron Age hillforts of Tan-y-Gopa and Pen-y-Corddyn Mawr, numerous fascinating built and natural structures provide focal points within a magical wooded setting, originally conceived as a place of peaceful enjoyment.
A significant portion of the woods are on a long term lease to Natural Resources Wales by Gwrych Castle since 1951. Lady Emily’s Tower, Gamekeeper’s Cottage and the caves are retained by the castle and excluded from the lease.
Lady Emily's Tower
Located on a cliff-edge to the north-west of the castle, Lady Emily’s Tower is now in a dangerous state of disrepair and is at risk of collapse. The tower was built as a centrepiece to the designed landscape. It is currently not open to the public.
Designed by Lloyd Hesketh Bamford-Hesketh, for his wife Lady Emily and their children, in the mid-nineteenth century. It was designed both as a belvedere (a structure designed to provide a beautiful view) as well as a banqueting tower – a fine example of beauty meeting purpose.
The views from the three windows of the tower show the relationship between land, sea and sky and how the Gwrych Castle Estate utilised all three as part of the picturesque experience.
By means of a winding path, the ridge of the cliff was gained, and luncheon was partaken of at a height of 560 feet above the sea level, and near the Observatory. The view from this point is an extensive one, embracing within its scope part of Lancashire on the one hand, with the Snowdon range of mountains on the other. On a clearer day the Isle of Man could be easily perceived. No doubt this panorama suggested the very appropriate Inscription on the Observatory tower –
‘The sea Is His and He made it, and His hands prepared the dry land.’
Cambrian News, 8th September 1876.
Phase 1 emergency works will include stabilisation of internal walls, window openings, fireplace, and localised pointing following years of theft and vandalism. In the near future, we would like to open the Grade II listed tower for visitors.
The vernacular cottage, albeit ruinous, survives from the early-eighteenth century and nestles in the centre of the Castle Great Wood. It was last used in the mid-twentieth century to store potatoes.Our aim is to rebuild Lloyd Hesketh Bamford-Hesketh’s cottage orné
Lloyd preserved the cottage as part of his landscaping of the hillside. He enhanced the already picturesque cottage with a thatched roof and installed the gamekeeper who would show visitors around the parkland above the castle.
Cefn-yr-Ogof caves represent Lloyd’s most remarkable undertaking, enhancing an already unusual topographical formation occurring naturally within the landscape with the spirit and philosophy of the picturesque movement. The caves are currently not open to the public.
Our aim is to return visitors to a unique picturesque experience. Restoring access to the caves via Lloyd’s network of paths will enable visitors to walk in the footsteps of Lloyd Hesketh Bamford-Heskeths and his contemporaries, ascending along the paths and staircases into the darkness of the caves through to the harmony and light of the vista from the viewing platforms over Tan-yr-Ogo.
Natural Resources Wales Leasehold
Gwrych Castle is a privately owned Estate and Natural Resources Wales (NRW) – legacy Forestry Commission Wales – has a long-term lease from the castle over around 165 acres of the woodland since 1951. There is no dedicated open access, public rights of way or permissive paths within the NRW leased land. NRW and Gwrych Castle Trust are working together to manage the castle and surrounding woodland and to improve public access for visitors to the castle.
Please contact Gwrych Castle and Natural Resources Wales for applications for activities within the estate. Special permissions from NRW are required for the SSSI area. An advisory note from NRW can be found here.