IT’S the gloomy, damp ruin where famous faces including Jordan North, Vernon Kay and Bev Callard are bunking down for the next three weeks.
But photos showing the former glory of Gwrych Castle in North Wales – the setting for this year’s series of I’m A Celebrity – have now come to light.
A historic property listing for Gwrych Castle in North Wales – the setting of this year’s I’m A Celebrity – has come to light[/caption]
It shows the historic castle in its former glory – before the property fell into disrepair after years of neglect [/caption]
A historic property listing for the 19th-century castle shows it as an elegant estate, with weaponry on the walls, quaint dining tables and stylish furnishings.
The castle – which many claim is haunted – was listed for auction in July 1946 by owners the Dundonald family, ending nearly 100 years of continuous family ownership.
Auctioneers at that time referred to the building as ‘The Well-known Picturesque Castle’, and say it was built by Lloyd Bamford Hesketh in the Regency Period – ‘costing a fortune’.
It was eventually sold for £12,000 to a Mr JR Rennie of Wrexham.
A report from a newspaper from the time said “he intends to live there” and that “the sale attracted one of the largest crowds seen at an auction in North Wales for many years”.
But the Grade I-listed fortress has since fallen into dereliction after decades of attempts to turn it into a hotel or tourist attraction.
The auction document, sent out to entice bidders a year after the end of the Second World War, says: “The magnificent 19th-century castle and estate, which is based near Abergele in Conwy, was built more than 100 years ago between 1812 and 1822.
“It been preserved to an exceptional standard, with many original features remaining throughout.
Old images of the property show luxurious fittings [/caption]
But in the past three decades, the estate has been left to rot [/caption]
Local campaigners hope this year’s series will shine a light on the ruined castle[/caption]
The property was listed for auction in July 1946 by its owners, the Dundonald family[/caption]
Since then, it’s changed hands a number of times – and was finally asset-stripped 30 years ago[/caption]
“The castle is set some 200ft above sea level on the side of hill, which is backed by woodland and commands magnificent views over the surrounding country and the Irish Sea as far as Liverpool.
“The approach to the castle allows you to pass by the Great Wood, terraced gardens and parkland. The drive passes through massive stone archways to the courtyard and entrance to the castle.
“Continuing past the entrance, there are further stone archways to the Garage and Stable Yard before winding back round to the Great Wood.”
The listing also details the castle’s mansion being built of limestone “in the Gothic style”, with turrets and architraves “in worked stone and with fine stone windows with leaded lights enriched with coats of arms and old coloured glass”.
It said there were 26 bedrooms, nine reception rooms and seven bathrooms within an estate that covered 1,400 acres – the equivalent of 700 football pitches – including outbuildings, lodges, gardens, woodland and parkland.
During the Second World War, the castle provided refuge for Jewish children as part of Operation Kindertransport, rescuing them from danger in Europe.
Following its auction in the 1940s, several different people came into the ownership of the castle, before it was asset-stripped around 30 years ago.
Viewers of this year’s series of I’m a Celeb, which is being filmed in the UK because of the coronavirus pandemic, will know the fairytale castle has been left to rot for around three decades.
The images show high ceilings and elegantly-set tables[/caption]
Viewers of the 2020 show, which was moved from Australia to Wales when the coronavirus pandemic hit, will know the property is in a ruined state [/caption]
A celebrities are facing a series of grisly trials at the property[/caption]
It’s most recent inhabitants were squatters – but locals hope the show will help bring the property back to life.
Architectural historian Dr Mark Baker, who formed the Gwrych Castle Preservation Trust at the age of just 13, told WalesOnline he first visited in the property in the 80s.
“I then remember going back a few years later after and it was like a nuclear fallout,” Dr Baker, now 33, said.
“There was used needles, abandoned vehicles and fire damage.
“It was an apocalyptic scene. I just thought that someone has got to do something here.”
When contacted by a rep from ITV asking about the castle’s availability, Dr Baker said he almost deleted the email – believing it to be spam.
But he added: “When I found out what the show was I thought, ‘That’s pretty immense’ and it would be great to host it here in north Wales.
“We hope it will open up north Wales to the whole of Britain and, hopefully, further afield.”
The property listing showing the castle during its hey-day was found and shared by the North East Wales Archives, with pictures provided by the Gwynedd Archive Service to celebrate Explore Your Archive week.
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Archivist Sarah Roberts said: “Gwrych Castle had kept the Dundonald family in lavish surroundings since the 1870s and would have been a much more comfortable place to live than the viper vaults the I’m a Celebrity contestants are putting up with right now.
“Despite numerous attempts over the years to turn the building into a hotel or tourist attraction the house fell slowly into disrepair until taken over by The Gwrych Castle Preservation Trust.
“It’s brilliant to see it reach households all over the country now and viewers can explore its story.”
An image of the banqueting hall shows the castle was fitted with chandeliers [/caption]
It also boasted huge fireplaces and even armoury on the walls[/caption]
Old documents detail the sale of the ‘well-known picturesque castle’[/caption]
In 1946, the castle boasted 26 bedrooms, nine reception rooms and seven bathrooms within an estate that covered 1,400 acres[/caption]
This content was originally published here.