The Park History
The historic house and its history
*At the present time our Historic House is closed to the public, but you may still visit our beautiful grounds - ticket required*
Set within its historic parkland, with views to the Clwydian hills, Rhuddlan Castle and the Irish Sea, Bodelwyddan Castle & Park is a fine country house with a unique and fascinating history. Preserved as a museum and managed by an independent charity, the castle is a place where art and history combine to tell many interesting stories and enchant our visitors.
Bodelwyddan originally belonged to the Humphreys family from Anglesey, who came there in 1461 after being dispossessed of their ancestral estate by Edward IV. In 1690 it was bought by the Welsh lawyer, politician and Speaker of the House of Commons, Sir William Williams. It was under the Williams family ownership that the house developed as we see it today. Much has changed through various episodes of building work. So many changes have taken place that Bodelwyddan has been described as having “no foundation in historic reality, is wildly dramatic, and owes nothing to its predecessors."
By the time of World War 1 the estate had been reduced in size and the house and parkland was requisitioned by the army for use as a recuperation hospital and training area. The grounds to the east of the main house were used by nearby Kinmel Camp as an area for trench warfare training. The remains of the trenches can still be seen. Nearby, a new series of reproduction trenches make for a fascinating visit in their own right. Access to the reproduction trench is by guided tour only.
In 1922 the house and estate were finally sold by the Williams family to Lowther College, a girls’ private school. The College was based at the Castle from 1920 until 1982 when it finally closed due. 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 display many important national treasures at the Castle. To house these collections, the interior was sympathetically restored to its Victorian splendour by architect Roderick Gradidge.
In 2017 the Castle again underwent changes, and replaced the National Portrait Gallery display with an extensive Welsh Art Collection.
In 2018 we launched our outstanding WW1 Exhibition, 'From Civilian to Combatant' showcasing some unique artefacts from The Great War.
Whatever your interest in history, you're sure to make many fascinating discoveries at Bodelwyddan Castle & Park.
A guidebook offers a more detailed history of Bodelwyddan Castle and is available to buy from our gift shop.
Did you know?
Bodelwyddan is older than it looks. Samples taken from large timbers in the attic date from the fifteenth century and visitors can see evidence of an earlier Elizabethan or Jacobean house in some places, particularly in the Staircase Hall.