Welsh ‘Versailles’ still awaiting saviour: Kinmel Hall for sale

Kinmel Hall, Conwy (Image: Hannells)

When Kinmel Hall was bought in March 2006 by an investment company it was almost immediately advertised on their website as a ‘a unique development opportunity’ with plans for use as either hotel, spa, offices, conference venue or apartments.  Yet, nearly four years later, this impressive mansion is still languishing without a clear future.

The Kinmel estate was bought in 1786 using the vast wealth generated for the Hughes family in the eighteenth century through their half-ownership of the copper mine in Parys mountain which generated up to £150,000 a year at it’s peak (equivalent today to about £200m measured against average earnings).  The Hughes family lived in the house already there until it was rebuilt in 1842-3 in a Palladian style designed by the famous Georgian architect Thomas Hopper for the 1st Lord Dinorben.  When this house burnt down shortly afterwards in 1848 their huge income meant that an even larger house could be built to replace it.  Designed by William Nesfield in a monumental chateau-style and built between 1871-76 it was for an age of lavish house parties and featured 52 bedrooms and accomodation for 60 live-in staff.  The Hughes family lived there until 1929 when it became a health spa, then a hospital during WWII and then a school from 1945 until a large fire forced them out in 1975.  Restored in the 1980s, it was sold several times before being purchased by Derbyshire Investments who still own it today.

The original descendants of the Hughes’ still own the 5,000-acre Kinmel estate – all that remains of their original holding of 85,000 acres they once owned across the area.  The grade-I listed Hall and the 18 acres of walled gardens would make a magical location for what ever final purpose is decided – but the important task is to determine that future.  I suppose it’s too much to hope that it will again be a family home but any sensitive use which preserves this historic house as part of Wales’ architectural heritage is to be encouraged.

More details: ‘Kinmel Hall, North Wales‘ [Derbyshire Investments]

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About Matthew Beckett - The Country Seat

An amateur architectural historian with a particular love of UK country houses in all their many varied and beautiful forms.
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17 Responses to Welsh ‘Versailles’ still awaiting saviour: Kinmel Hall for sale

  1. Trish Brand Peters says:

    I was at school there in the early 70’s. Does anyone know if it is possible to tour the grounds and /or go inside at all??

    • Rhiannon says:

      Trish – I was at school there too, also in the early 70s! I’m going to be visiting the area soon with my family and would love to visit the place. Do you (or anyone else) have any news about whether it’s possible to see the grounds/building itself?

      • Star says:

        No its privately owned, not open to the public, all you could do is go ther and see if you can get in or look round thats what /i did onece a few years back, but even the new owners then were not keen and i was considered trespassing but after showing them photos that I was a school girl there 1970 to 1975 and after much pleading they let me look around out side. The main entrance no longer exists, yuo have to go up a side road to another entrance and the pot holes are huge! its not like it used to be, quite sad how its been let go and run down. hope that helps x

      • bruce says:

        i was up there yesterday on the off chance, lucky for me i got inside. A guy was on site showing interested buyers around. i asked if it was ok to take photos, he said it was ok for me to wonder around freely.
        the place is massive, the scale of it very impressive. ground floor rooms very grand looking with original fire places. upstairs consisted of alot of rooms, like a hotel!
        the ground floor rooms are in great condition, however some of the smaller dorm rooms are in need of attention.
        the stables area majority of windows boarded up, the clock above the arched entrance is very nice.
        took loads of photos, he said he will be there again next week. maybe find out from the agent when, and like me stroll up!
        failing that drop me your email and i’ll forward you some pics i took!

  2. Dave says:

    So…they paid maybe about £500,000 for it and they want to sell it for £15m! I admire their optimism and chutzpah but its never going to happen, they could maybe get £1m for it at best. There’s not enough land with it to justify a higher valuation.

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  4. Andrew says:

    Kinmel Hall is still for sale for £15m (including restoration/conversion for the buyer), with its current owners, Derbyshire Investments, applying this month for another 5-year renewal of its consent for change of use to a hotel.

  5. mark says:

    i was working ther early this year the place is in a poor state needs millians spending on it ..

  6. nick henly says:

    hi i was working there about 3 months ago cutting a few trees dow, no its not just open to the public, but it is a cracking place. verry nice to see

  7. Dave says:

    It’s the usual story – developer buys a property and has no intention of spending any money on it, just sticks it back on the market at an inflated price. When will they learn?

  8. Sparks says:

    My parents live in the area and i’ve been running up there. I’ve been obsessed with the place since it first went on the market. Even the stables are just amazing and worth a fortune. its a palace and fit for a King. It would have been a perfect seat for the Welsh Assebley as would the Denbigh Mental hospital.

  9. Batty says:

    I was there in 1975 when it caught fire at lunch time in the kitchen and Mr Lane ‘shooed’ us all out!. we all were evacuated to prestatyn holiday camp (Butlins) for the rest of year before we all transferred to Bedford. We had coaches up to the school for some lessons in the stable block. Very sad end to a lovely building. I hope someone restores it to its former glory.

  10. Dale Ingram says:

    It’s for sale by auction via Lambert Smith Hampson October 12th (London) or 19th (Merseyside).

  11. Andrew says:

    The Lambert Smith Hampson 12 October London auction has been deferred until 7 December 2011. Please note on that link that the ‘View Catalogue’ PDF file actually has two pages on Kinmel Hall (pages 16-17), whereas the ‘Download Brochure’ PDF file only has one page.

  12. Jono says:

    It is as if time stood still. Perhps this amazing place that has blessed so many has become indicative of a broken materialistic society. How sad it made me feel to see photographs of the stable coutryard last night totally dilapidated, neglected and unloved. If only an organisation, such as the National Trust would consider this place as a National treasure. There can be no doubt that it is one of the finest country houses in the UK. The main rooms are as beautiful as ever, despite some appalling decor choices and hideous carpets. What would William Eden Nesfield make of it now or the master craftsmen that built it?

  13. ldm says:

    Adam Nicolson’s excellent new book ‘The Gentry’ contains a chapter on the Hughes family and Kinmel Hall. He focuses on the personal life of the family and on the estate more than on the house, but it is nonetheless fascinating (and somewhat sad) reading.

  14. Matthew Beckett - The Country Seat says:

    The latest is that Kinmel Hall was supposed to be auctioned on 7 Dec but with minutes to go before the auction started, a mystery buyer completed a deal to buy the house for £1.5m. Two news stories here give more details:

    http://t.co/OOPsLRRK
    http://t.co/lCUF1DQk

    A subsequent news story (http://t.co/M0kfGWef) has given some further information, with a spokesman for the still mystery buyer saying that, subject to planning consent, it will become a hotel to join their other business interests in Wales. Is it Sir Terry Matthews? Could Kinmel become a north Wales equivalent of Celtic Manor?

    Matt

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