Plas Mawr ('Great Hall') is an Elizabethan townhouse in Conwy, North Wales, dating from the 16th century. The property was built by Robert Wynn, a member of the local gentry, following his marriage to his first wife, Dorothy Griffith. Plas Mawr occupied a plot of land off Conwy's High Street and was constructed in three phases between 1576 and 1585 at a total cost of around £800. Wynn was known for his hospitality, and the household was supported by Wynn's local dairy herds, orchards and gardens. On his death he laid out complex instructions for dividing his estate; the resulting law-case took years to resolve, effectively preventing the redevelopment of the house and preserving it in its original condition.

After 1683 Plas Mawr passed into the hands of the Mostyn family and ceased to be used as a family home. It was rented out for various purposes during the 18th and 19th centuries, including for use as a school, cheap lodgings and finally as the headquarters of the Royal Cambrian Academy of Art. In the 20th century the house became increasingly well known for its preserved Elizabethan architecture, but the costs of maintenance grew considerably and its condition deteriorated. The Welsh heritage agency Cadw took over the management of the property in 1993 and carried out an extensive, 42-month-long restoration project. With many of its rooms redecorated to resemble their condition in 1665, and replanted Renaissance gardens, it is now run as a tourist attraction.

Architecturally, Plas Mawr is almost unchanged from the 16th century, and the historian Rick Turner considers the house to be 'the finest surviving town house of the Elizabethan era'. Plas Mawr shows a blend of continental Renaissance and local North Wales influences, with an innovative floor-plan and architectural detailing. The house still retains much of its original plasterwork, which incorporates symbols, badges and heraldry, which the historian Peter Smith has described as 'the most perfect and the most complete memorial to Elizabethan Wales.' The architecture of the house influenced other contemporary projects in North Wales, and was later copied during the 19th and 20th centuries in buildings around the town of Conwy, including the local police station and nearby hotel.



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Founded: 1576
Category: Palaces, manors and town halls in United Kingdom

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User Reviews

Rob Hunt (17 months ago)
We visited this house a couple of weeks ago, and it was fantastic. I was a little skeptical at first (my wife talked me into it) as I have been to plenty of historic homes and houses ("stately homes"), and they often leave me feeling underwhelmed. Plas Mawr was completely different. The entire house still feels lived in, as if the original occupants are still around somewhere, and it has a fascinating history that is not based in royalty or aristocracy... well, not too much anyway. It is a real gem!
Robin Cuthbertson (17 months ago)
A really interesting historic building in Conwy, which gives a great sense of how people lived in the years since it was built. The audio tour is fabulous. A mobile phone sized gadget can be pointed at a trigger point in each room, and then voice actors tell you about life as it related to that room. There are also really helpful and informative staff on hand to tell you about the things you are looking at and how people lived in those rooms. A brilliantly done experience.
Valerie Hurry (18 months ago)
Absolutely amazing place. So good to finally visit. They give you a really useful audio guide. So much fascinating information. Stunning building. I liked the extra information display too. All the stuff about medicine.
Shirley Ware (19 months ago)
This is a little gem in Conwy often missed. Its an excellent Elizabethan house. You are actually allowed to take photos, you can have audio to go round or a readable version whichever you prefer. The staff are great, very friendly, don't pass this by its too good to miss and very reasonable prices.
Ann Green (19 months ago)
Super interesting and historic place! The staff were so friendly and jovial. Definitely take the audio guide. It is told by actors playing the people who lived there. Very creative and fun. Very well done.
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