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]