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Bodelwyddan Castle
Reconstructed Late Medieval Castle in Wales

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Bodelwyddan Castle is a fifteenth century castle in Denbighshire, Wales, originally built as manor house around 1460. The castle that stands today was reconstructed between 1830 and 1852.

The castle is set in a large area of parkland, and formal gardens. It is a partner of the National Portrait Gallery and possesses a fine range of portraits. Both house and gardens are open to the public. The castle offers tours and a range of educational services, along with other facilities for children. Rooms are available for private hire, and the castle is licenced for civil marriages. Bodelwyddan also hosts a wide range of events, including paranormal investigations. The castle grounds feature trenches built for troops to practice in during the First World War. Bodelwyddan Castle is a Grade II* Listed Building.

Museum & Art Gallery
Gardens & Grounds
Private Functions
Corporate Events

Bodelwyddan Castle as Art Gallery & Museum

In the 1980s the castle was bought by Clwyd County Council with the aim of developing it as a visitor attraction. Partnerships were formed with prominent museums and art galleries, including the National Portrait Gallery, so that the castle could be used to display objects from these collections.


As a regional partner of the National Portrait Gallery, Bodelwyddan Castle houses wonderful portraits from the 19th Century collections of the London-based national museum. In addition, the Castle displays collections of furniture from the Victoria & Albert Museum, and sculpture from the Royal Academy of Arts. The Caste Trust also administers a collection relating to the history of the house and estate including photographs and effects from the days when the Castle was the home of Lowther College.

The National Portrait Gallery Website contains a full description of the Castle's display of portraits as well as other information about the work of Bodelwyddan Castle Trust. You can see the portraits at Bodelwyddan Castle online at the National Portrait Gallery website

A number of significant works from the National Portrait Gallery's 19th Century collections are exhibited at the Castle in the period rooms. The Trust and the National Gallery work together to show elements of the permanent collection as well as occasional temporary exhibitions.

Visitors to Bodelwyddan Castle can also use the National Portrait Gallery's Portrait Explorer which is a means of accessing in digital format many of the treasures held by the Gallery in London and at their two other partner venues Beningbrough and Montacute.


Queen Victoria
by Bertha Müller, after Heinrich von Angeli
oil on canvas, 1900 (1899)
46 1/2 in. x 36 in. (1181 mm x 914 mm)
Purchased, 1900, NPG 1252
© National Portrait Gallery, London


Ladies' Drawing Room at Bodelwyddan Castle


Watts Hall of Fame, Bodelwyddan Castle



Bodelwyddan Castle
Bodelwyddan Castle Trust
Denbighshire LL18 5UY

Telephone from the UK: 01745 584060
Telephone from the US: 010 44 1745 584060
Telephone from France: 00 44 1745 584060
Telephone from other countries: +44 (0)1745 584060

Fax: 01745 584563



Google Maps


Small scale map showing the location of
Bodelwyddan Castle

Google map showing the location of
Bodelwyddan Castle

Large scale map showing
Bodelwyddan Castle

Location of Bodelwyddan Castle


Bodelwyddan Castle is located close to the village of Bodelwyddan in Denbighshire, North Wales in the UK, near to the seaside resorts of Rhyl, Prestatyn, and Llandudno on the North Wales coast, and to the mountains of Snowdonia.

The castle has a distant view of Rhuddlan Castle and St. Asaph Cathedral.

Bodelwyddan is 35 minutes from the M56 and M53, just off the A55 Expressway (Junction 25), follow the brown and white signs. The nearest Railway station is Rhyl, from where a bus runs to Bodelwyddan village or a taxi can be taken directly to the castle. Estimated Journey Times by Car

Llandudno: 25 mins
Chester: 30 mins
M6: 40 mins
M56/M53: 35 mins
Manchester : 60 mins

Aerial View of Bodelwyddan Castle


History of Bodelwyddan Castle


The history of Bodelwyddan Castle and its estate extends back before 1460. The original castle was built by the Humphreys family of Anglesey as a manor house.

Bodelwyddan Castle's most important association was with the Williams family, which extended for around 200 years from 1690. The castle was bought from the Humphreys by Sir William Williams, Speaker in the House of Commons.

Architects Hansom and Welch were employed by Sir John Hay Williams, 2nd Baronet of Bodelwyddan, to refurbish and extend the house while further works at this time also resulted in a magnificent estate wall and formal garden. The Castle as seen today is largely the creation of Sir John Hay Williams dating from between 1830 and 1852.

The loss of the main income source for the estate - lead mining - in the 1850s resulted in the decline of the Williams family fortunes, though further building refurbishment took place in the 1880s.

By the First World War, the estate had been reduced in size and the house was used as a recuperation hospital. The grounds to the east of the main house were used by nearby Kinmel Camp as an area for trench warfare training. Traces of trenches can still be seen in the grounds.

By 1920, the cost of maintaining the castle and estate had grown too burdensome, and the Williams-Wynn family leased Bodelwyddan to Lowther College, a girls' private school. The school initially moved to Bodelwyddan as tenants of the Williams family, but Lowther College purchased the property five years later, in 1925. The College was based at the Castle until 1982 when it finally closed.

In the 1980s the Castle was purchased by the then Clwyd County Council and developed as a museum, gallery and visitor attraction. Partnerships were formed with the National Portrait Gallery, Victoria & Albert Museum and the Royal Academy of Arts to enable the display of many important national treasures at the Castle. To house these collections, the interior was sympathetically restored to its Victorian splendour by architect Roderick Gradidge, an expert on Victorian architecture. .

In 1994, the County Council leased part of the site to the Rank Organisation for its first Warner Holidays hotel. Meanwhile, the magnificent Williams Hall with its national collections was placed under the control of Bodelwyddan Castle Trust.

The National Portrait Gallery maintains the loan of nationally important art collections at the Castle with day-to-day curatorial care resting with the Trust.

Gateway at Bodelwyddan Castle


Clara Novello
by Edward Petre Novello
oil on canvas, 1833
56 1/8 in. x 44 3/8 in. (1425 mm x 1126 mm)
Bequeathed by the sitter's granddaughter,
Contessa Gigliucci, 1983, NPG 5685
© National Portrait Gallery, London


Architecture of Bodelwyddan Castle


The castle which stands today was remodelled in the Neo Gothic style between 1830 and 1852 by Sir John Hay Williams, who employed the architects Joseph Hansom (inventor of the Hansom cab) and Edward Welch to refurbish and extend the house.

The castle has been described as one of Hansom's most ambitious projects, "being wildly dramatic and owing nothing to its predecessors". At the same time works were carried out to construct an estate wall and formal gardens.

Further refurbishment work was carried out in the 1880s by William Grenville Williams, 4th baronet, who inherited Bodelwyddan Castle from his father, Sir Hugh Williams. Sir Hugh was brother to Sir John Hay and together they worked on developing the property and estate, although it appears that Sir John had the greatest ambitions with regard to the architectural design of the house and gardens while his brother’s interest lay in the estate management. Sir John Hay had two daughters and so the family estate passed to his brother Hugh.

The castle structure seen today is mostly Victorian, but the core of the building may date back to the 13th century.

Archaeologists have found Roman remains on the site, which might relate to a settlement adjacent to the nearby Roman road.

Statue at Bodelwyddan Castle

Gardens and Grounds at Bodelwyddan Castle

The castle is set within a large area of parkland, and formal gardens.

The second baronet, Sir John Hay Williams (1794 - 1859) was a keen horticulturist who brought many of the more exotic plants to the gardens at Bodelwyddan. One of his more innovative ideas was to build a 'centrally heated' garden wall - a high brick wall built with fireplaces and flues to keep frost at bay. This wall can still be seen around the garden. He also built a number of hot houses.

After the Williams family left the Castle in the 1890s a number of tenants took residence and it was one of these, Mrs Aitken, who commissioned the landscape architect T H Mawson to redesigned part of the walled garden in 1910.

In the 1980s the gardens were restored by Clwyd County Council and are now cared for by a growing team of enthusiastic volunteers.


Woodland and Parkland

Bodelwyddan Castle sits in 260 acres of historic parkland and woodland, much of which is open to day visitors. The woodland to the south of the formal garden is a haven for wildlife and is criss-crossed by a number of paths ideal for a gentle stroll or study visit.

The woodland is managed by Bodelwyddan Castle Trust with the support of the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers.

BTCV have spent significant amounts of time restoring and managing many areas of the woods and also the former Williams family orchard.

A bird hide provided and maintained by BTCV is a popular feature in the woods. From here you can observe the varied and often rare bird life.

In another part of the woods, the area has been managed to provide a glade for butterflies

Visit the Castle at different times of the year to see the woodland and parkland in its varied colours. There is always something of interest to see.

First World War Training Trenches

Within the grounds at Bodelwyddan are reminders of the Great War years, very rare examples of practice trenches. Training was an important activity during the First World War (1914-1918). It helped to prepare newly recruited soldiers many of whom had never considered the intricacies of trench warfare. The local training camp for the area was Kinmel Park Camp.

Training trenches are located in the Bodelwyddan Castle Parkland. A set of interpretive panels provide information on what it was like to be a soldier living, fighting and dying in the trenches and illustrations of how the trenches were constructed.



Four Seasons Garden at Bodelwyddan Castle
by T H Mawson, 1910


A Zebra Finch at Bodelwyddan Castle


First World War Trenches at Bodelwyddan Castle

Weddings at Bodelwyddan Castle


Bodelwyddan Castle is a perfect setting for your wedding. Several rooms are available for civil ceremonies. Each has its own particular character that will help to make your day such a memorable occasion.

The Sculpture Gallery, for example, houses some of the finest sculptures produced by 19th Century neoclassical sculptor John Gibson as well as portraits from the National Portrait Gallery Victorian collection. A magnificent vaulted ceiling and finely decorated fireplace add to the sumptuous decor that includes hand woven curtains in the Victorian style. The room will seat 90-100 guests and includes a beautiful Steinway Grand Piano that can be played before and after the wedding ceremony.

The castle also offers the use of our historic parkland should you wish to arrange a marquee or a fireworks display.

A complementary guided tour is available as part of your wedding planning.


A Wedding at Bodelwyddan Castle


A Wedding at Bodelwyddan Castle

Private Functions and Corporate Events
at Bodelwyddan Castle, Outdoor Events and Exclusive Use of the Castle


Many rooms at Bodelwyddan Castle are available for hire for meetings and conferences and we can cater for smaller and larger groups. The option of grounds hire and exclusive use of the house are also available. We also offer the use of our orienteering course, the woodland and parkland for team building exercises and can arrange special workshops, tours and other special activities.


Outdoor Events

Bodelwyddan Castle plays host to a number of outdoor festivals and events during the Spring and Summer.

These events are normally organised and managed by specialist event organisers and include regular features such as the All Types VW Show, BASC Country Fair and the North Wales Shire Horse Show.

Details of events are featured on the Bodelwyddan Castle website.


An MG Rally at Bodelwyddan Castle


A Medieval Festival at Bodelwyddan Castle

Tour of Bodelwyddan Castle

Bodelwyddan Castle offers a unique museum experience. The interior of the former Williams family home was restored in the 1980s to create a magnificent backdrop to the fine collection of 19th century portraits on loan from the National Portrait Gallery.

The setting includes richly vibrant reproduction furnishings and décor made according to original Victorian designs that are complemented by statement pieces of furniture from the V&A, and a collection of sculptures from the Royal Academy by one of the greatest sculptors of the age, John Gibson.

This tour begins with the portraits of the first baronet of Bodelwyddan, Sir John Williams, and his family, whose story is closely tied up with the Castle until the early 20th century. Evidence of the changes made by successive generations can be seen throughout the tour. The nine historic rooms each represent a particular theme cleverly reflected in the décor. Portraits of eminent Victorian women, musicians and writers adorn the walls of the feminine Ladies’ ‘Drawing Room; 19th century sporting heroes and satirical cartoons reflect masculine taste and humour in the Gentlemen’s Billiard Room. All rooms are on open display, which means you can wander among the exhibits and get up close to the artworks.


An Historic Garden Tour considers the unique relationship people have with their gardens. It covers the Victorian interest in collecting and growing exotic plants, the changes in early 20th Century taste for garden design that complemented the architectural style of the house and surrounding landscape (as exemplified by the Four Seasons garden designed by Thomas Mawson (1861 – 1933) in 1910), to the changes in how our gardens were used during wartime.


Schools are welcome to undertake self-directed visits and there is a range of material available to enhance and support your experience.

Teachers with provisional or confirmed bookings are welcome to make free pre-visits in order to become familiar with all that we have to offer. You may like to make an appointment to meet one of our friendly staff, who will show you around and discuss your requirements. Or you may prefer to visit at your leisure at the weekend; simply call beforehand to book your visit.

A Machicolated Gateway at Bodelwyddan Castle


Billiard Room at Bodelwyddan Castle

Hauntings at Bodelwyddan Castle


There have been many reports of ghost sightings at the castle, including that of a soldier in one of the galleries.

Sir John Hay Williams wrote in 1829 that, during a period of refurbishment, human bones were found near one of the chimneys. They were built back into the wall, which means they remain there to this day.

The castle has also been the subject of two episodes of television's Most Haunted and Sci Fi's Ghost Hunters International.

Ghostly happenings reported over the past few years include, a mysterious lady in a flowing dress in the Sculpture Gallery, shadowy figures drifting down corridors and through walls, unexplained voices, sounds and lights.

The Castle has been visited twice by LivingTV's Most Haunted and also by Ghost Hunters International as well as by several groups of paranormal investigators.

Bodelwyddan Castle is the only property in North Wales to have its own in-house paranormal investigation team.



Education at Bodelwyddan Castle


The education team at Bodelwyddan Castle welcomes visits from schools, colleges and other groups on any day of the week throughout the year, by prior arrangement.

Bodelwyddan offers a range of talks, tours and workshops and can help you plan a self-guided visit. The team encourages adult education tutors, U3A, WEA and NADFAS organisers, overseas groups, university and college lecturers and all other group organisers to use our service.



Drawing Room and Sculpture Gallery,

Volunteering at Bodelwyddan Castle


Bodelwyddan Castle has many volunteering opportunities throughout the year. An attractive volunteering package offers a range of benefits to help volunteers get the most from their experience.


Library at Bodelwyddan Castle


Photo Gallery


Exterior View of Bodelwyddan Castle


Angela Georgina Burdett-Coutts, Baroness Burdett-Coutts
by Sir William Charles Ross
watercolour on ivory, circa 1847
16 1/2 in. x 11 1/2 in. (419 mm x 292 mm)
Transferred from Tate Gallery, 1957, NPG 2057
© National Portrait Gallery, London


Entrance Hall at Bodelwyddan Castle


Frederick Archer by Otto Brower
watercolour, 1878
20 in. x 27 1/2 in. (508 mm x 699 mm)
Purchased, 1933 NPG 2648

© National Portrait Gallery, London


A Medieval Festival at Bodelwyddan Castle


Dame (Alice) Ellen Terry
by George Frederic Watts
oil on canvas, circa 1864-1865
23 1/2 in. x 23 1/2 in. (597 mm x 597 mm)
Purchased, 1928
NPG 2274
© National Portrait Gallery, London


Elizabeth Barrett Browning
by Field Talfourd
chalk, 1859
23 3/4 in. x 17 5/8 in. (603 mm x 448 mm)
Given by Ellen Heaton, 1871, NPG 322
National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London


Ladies' DrawingRoom


External View of Bodelwyddan Castle


External View of Bodelwyddan Castle


Letitia Elizabeth Landon (Mrs Maclean)
by Daniel Maclise
pencil, black chalk and stump, circa 1830-1835
10 3/4 in. x 8 1/2 in. (273 mm x 216 mm)
Purchased, 1922, NPG 1953
© National Portrait Gallery, London


The Bailey Court at Bodelwyddan Castle


Michael Faraday
by Sir Thomas Brock, after John Henry Foley
marble bust, 1886 (1877)
32 in. (813 mm) high
Given by Committee of Gentlemen, 1886, NPG 748
© National Portrait Gallery, London


Dining Room at Bodelwyddan Castle


A Festival at Bodelwyddan Castle


Fireworks at Bodelwyddan Castle


Sophia, Lady Burdett
by Sir Thomas Lawrence
oil on canvas, after 1793
93 1/2 in. x 56 1/2 in. (2375 mm x 1435 mm)
Bequeathed by Rt Hon. William Ashmead Bartlett Burdett-Coutts, 1952, NPG 3821
© National Portrait Gallery, London





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