Following earlier concerns, sources have confirmed that the grade-I listed former ‘showplace of Wales’, Gwrych Castle, is once again for sale.
After many years as a deteriorating ruin, it’s outlook improved when the castle was finally sold for £860,000 in 2007 to City Services Ltd (trading as Clayton Homes – a separate company to Clayton Hotels which is still trading). They soon announced ambitious plans to convert it into a luxury 5-star hotel using the original layout as the starting point. Initial work on site has included the removal of over 1,900 tons of asbestos and debris from within the shell and the vegetation stripped from the exterior. The site was ready for restoration to start and Donald Insall architects were working on the designs for restoration.
Unfortunately 2007 was the height of the property market and the subsequent fall hit many companies including Clayton Homes which went into administration on 12 August 2009. Deloitte (Leeds) were appointed as administrators and have been quietly marketing the assets including Gwrych Castle. This was highlighted by the story of the businessman who was viewing the castle as a possible site for his ‘psychic school’ when he conveniently saw a ghost at a window. Kevin Horkin has apparently submitted a bid for around £850,000 – which may secure him the site but to complete the project to the required standard will require at least another £6m-12m depending on his ambitions. This is a significant level of investment if he is to restore this wonderful house to the appropriate standard. Hopefully Cadw, the Welsh equivalent to English Heritage, will keep a very close eye on the project and ensure that any plans are at least to the same standard as those approved for Clayton Homes.
Many people have taken a keen interest in Gwyrch Castle and had hoped that the sale would lead to this once grand house again taking a key role in the local area and also to save this important part of their architectural heritage. It would be tragedy if the work already done to create a secure and viable foundation for restoration was allowed to deteriorate again – the house must be sold to a sympathetic owner who has both the vision and funds to complete this project in a way which befits this beautiful house.
- ‘Don’t be spooked by Gwrych Castle’s ‘ghost’‘ [Daily Post North Wales]
- ‘Ribble Valley businessman unveils psychic school plans‘ [Lancashire Telegraph]