Penrhyn Castle

Bangor, United Kingdom

Penrhyn Castle is a country house in Llandygai, Bangor, North Wales, constructed in the style of a Norman castle. The Penrhyn estate was founded by Ednyfed Fychan. In the 15th century his descendent Gwilym ap Griffith built a fortified manor house on the site. In the 18th century, the Penrhyn estate came into the possession of Richard Pennant, 1st Baron Penrhyn, in part from his father, a Liverpool merchant, and in part from his wife, Ann Susannah Pennant née Warburton, the daughter of an army officer. Pennant derived great wealth from his ownership of slave plantations in the West Indies and was a strong opponent of attempts to abolish the slave trade. His wealth was used in part for the development of the slate mining industry on Pennant's Caernarfonshire estates, and also for development of Penrhyn Castle. In the 1780s Pennant commissioned Samuel Wyatt to undertake a reconstruction of the medieval house.

On Pennant's death in 1808, the Penrhyn estate was inherited by his second cousin, George Hay Dawkins, who adopted the surname Dawkins-Pennant. From 1822 to 1837 Dawkins-Pennant engaged the architect Thomas Hopper who rebuilt the house in the form of a Neo-Norman castle. Dawkins-Pennant, who sat as Member of Parliament for Newark and New Romney, followed his cousin as a long-standing opponent of emancipation, serving on the West India Committee, a group of parliamentarians opposed to the abolition of slavery, on which Richard Pennant had served as chairman. Dawkins-Pennant received significant compensation when, in 1833, emancipation of slaves in the British Empire was eventually achieved, through the passing of the Slavery Abolition Act.

In 1840, the Penrhyn estate passed to Edward Gordon Douglas, through his marriage to Dawkins-Pennant's elder daughter, Juliana. Douglas, who assumed the name Douglas-Pennant, was elevated to the peerage as 1st Baron Penrhyn of the second creation in 1866. He, and his son and heir, George Douglas-Pennant, 2nd Baron Penrhyn, continued the development of their slate interests at Penrhyn Quarry, and of the supporting infrastructure throughout North-West Wales. Firmly opposed to trade unionism at their quarries, their tenure saw bitter strikes over union recognition and workers' rights, culminating in the Great Strike of 1900–1903, the longest dispute in British industrial history. Little development took place at the castle, which was not the family's principal residence and was mainly used as a holiday home in the summer months, but the interior was enhanced by Edward Douglas-Pennant's creation of a major collection of paintings. These provided the setting for entertaining guests, who included Queen Victoria, her son the Prince of Wales and William Gladstone. The castle passed from the family to the National Trust via the National Land Fund in 1951.

Penrhyn Castle is a Grade I listed building, recognised as Thomas Hopper's finest work. Built in the Romanesque Revival style, it is considered one of the most important country houses in Wales and as among the best of the Revivalist castles in Britain. Its art collection, including works by Palma Vecchio and Canaletto is of international importance.

There are 60 acres of garden and woodland surrounding the Castle with views of Snowdonia’s summits as well as the Great Orme and Puffin Island.

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Founded: 1820-1837
Category: Palaces, manors and town halls in United Kingdom


4.7/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Lynne Stevens (15 months ago)
This castle just blew me away. Stunning! Fabulous in every way. The staff so friendly and helpful. Full of great information. Answer any questions. The opulence is amazing. Part of the National Trust. A must see.
Neringa Jurgaitiene (Neri) (2 years ago)
What an amazing castle! Everyone should visit at least once. Gorgeous inside and out. There's also a train museum and gardens (didn't have a chance to visit the last one). Beautiful views to the sea and the mountains. Lots of parking spaces, a cafe and a shop.
Dodo D (2 years ago)
The most unique industrial castle we have ever seen. Massive beautifully decorated rooms with a lot of interesting history and many nice people that can explain it to you. The train expo is great as it brings you closer to the period of quarries and mining in Wales. A lot of space to walk, have a picnic or just sunbathe, a nice cafe and shop. What a great experience. Don't miss out.
Evalynn B. (2 years ago)
Visited in September 2019 during my holiday in Wales. Earlier that day I walked up to Aber falls, and because I still had time after, I headed to this castle, because they are close to each other. It is very imposing from further and closer, too, especially with the ivy on the walls which became reddish close to autumn. It had a little railway museum in the courtyard, before I headed to the entrance of the castle. The view is fantastic as well as the interior. There are quite a few rooms to visit and the whole corridor, staircase, hall, everything is just so spacious and rich that I just wandered around with surprise and I couldn't take enough pictures. The dome is an architectural masterpiece, and those so many tiny details carved in are amazing. There are toilets and cafe in the basement, also at the railway museum, and then we can have a walk in the lovely garden. As far as I've seen seniors can go up by car to the castle, otherwise the visitor centre is a bit further down. It is a wonderful and impressive place to visit and I dare to say a must to see in Wales. National Trust site, so members go free. From the main road an arched stone gate leads to the estate - I missed it 2 times, so I thought better to warn others.
Carol Ayles (2 years ago)
We had a great time here. All the staff were pleasant, helpful and informative. The property is very well looked after with beautiful collections. The craftsmanship from a time gone by is exquisite (if like I you are interested in that sort of thing). A truly stunning castle. The grounds are gorgeous. The railway museum was a nice and unexpected find. Facilities were clean and looked after, prices typical of the National Trust. Small shop, but had all the things you expect to see available. We found the cafe selling light bites, we're not sure if there was one on site selling meals as such. Followed the Easter trail which was good fun (all on accessible areas). The playground isn't very big and got busy quickly but the kids enjoyed it. Definitely recommend a visit here.
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