Welsh Castles and a Stately Home

We’re a little on the blogging back foot again after a few weeks of back-to-back travelling and adventures. I got Barry to add his fabulous photos to this blog early last week, but I was busy being a grandma and had absolutely no time (or energy at the end of the days) to write.

Following our day out at Snowdon, Barry spent much of the following day (Friday 22nd March) happily exploring a couple of Welsh castles. He did so by public transport, once I’d dropped him off at Betws y Coed.

First up was Conwy Castle, on the north coast. Built for Edward I in the 13th century, it’s purportedly one of the finest medieval fortifications still standing in Britain. Looks pretty impressive to me!

Conwy Castle

Barry chose to gaze at this beauty from the outside only – it’s not National Trust you see, so he would’ve had to pay to enter.

Penrhyn ‘Castle’

Next up was Penrhyn ‘Castle’, further along the coast towards Anglesey.

Why is castle in inverted commas you may wonder? Well, it’s called a castle, but …

It looks like a castle, but …

The present building was created between 1822 and 1837, from a country house built in the style of a Norman castle. Prior to that it was a medieval fortified manor house in the 15th century. Thomas Hopper was the designer who transformed the previous structures into an astounding home for George Hay Dawkins-Pennant. The cost of the build was about £150,000, funded from the family’s Jamaican sugar cane plantations (aka ‘the slave trade’ and definitely not something to boast about), and Welsh Slate Mines.

It’s actually known as a ‘mock’ castle …

Given to the National Trust in 1951, in lieu of death duties, it hosts a mass of fine art paintings and is complete with original furniture.

I met Barry at the ‘castle’ after driving back from my dental appointment, and we enjoyed an informative guided tour by a gentleman who quite obviously adored the place. Understandably too. I’m sure you’ll agree it’s breathtaking beautiful inside and out.

As well as the house (castle!), there’s gardens to explore (sadly we didn’t have time, plus it was raining!), and a Railway Museum …

We’ve certainly made sure we’ve had our money’s worth from the National Trust membership we bought in July 2018.


Leaving Wales on Saturday 23rd March, we detoured a touch to Erdigg, near Wrexham, another National Trust property. It meant we could meet up with Lisa and the boys, as there’s a wonderful woodland play area in the grounds.

Barry and Lisa enjoyed a guided tour, talk, and a wander around the mansion house – while I volunteered to stay and play! It’s what grandmas do 🙂

Erddig Manor House

Erdigg was built in 1684 to 1687, for Josiah Edisbury, High Sheriff of Denbighshire. It was given to the National Trust in March 1973, following subsidence from underground mining. Extensive refurbishment was carried out, without which the house would have become ruins. Funds were fortunately acquired from the National Coal Board in compensation for the damage wrought by the mines.

An accolade it can advertise is that in 2007 it was voted UK’s favourite historic house. Another rather splendid place.

Where are we now?

We spent last week with Lisa and the boys, me from Monday and Barry from Thursday to Sunday.

Yesterday we moved from Stone to just past Darlaston and The Plume of Feathers. We’re moored in the countryside chilling and catching up.

Visa news? Well, I applied for and had my passport returned (after nine weeks!), so I’m able to travel abroad now. I’m off to the mountains in Cyprus next Thursday to spend a week with my youngest daughter Kimberley at a spa. At least one of us can leave the country …

Our planned three-night-break to Amsterdam isn’t going to happen it seems. There’s no point in me going alone. The trip was a gift for Barry’s birthday, I’ve been to the magnificent city twice previously. We realise it’s entirely our ‘fault’ for being so pigheaded – refusing to pay out any more and go for the fast track option when we had the chance. We’re certainly kicking ourselves now; it had always been our intention to do that once we’d booked the flights. Hey ho. You live and learn. Can’t beat ‘the system’.

It’s a First World problem we feel. Not one to dwell on. We’re healthy and happy – and will get to see the canals of Amsterdam one day in the future!

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