Penrhyn Castle – The Vintage Glory of Wales (History & Travel Tips)

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If you are visiting Wales, this magnificent castle in the countryside is definitely worth a stop-by. Take some time to immerse yourself in the vintage glory of 19th-century architecture in the midst of a breathtaking countryside landscape.

The castle is home to one of the finest art collections in Wales with pieces created by renowned artists such as Canaletto, Richard Wilson, Carl Haag, and Perino del Vaga.

The imposing architecture of Penrhyn Castle.
The imposing architecture of Penrhyn Castle. Bs0u10e01, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Frequently Asked Questions

FOR HISTORY | BEAUTIFUL IMAGES | INTERESTING FACTS | TRAVEL TIPS

Early History

Origins

Penrhyn Castle is one of the largest residences in Britain. It was mostly built during the 1820s and 30s by Thomas Hopper for George Dawkins-Pennant, a member of Parliament at the time. George Dawkins-Pennant had inherited the land from First Baron Penrhyn, who had acquired a large amount of wealth via sugar plantations and the slave trade in Jamaica. It was on this land that the earliest structures of the castle were built.

A portrait of George Dawkins-Pennant.
A portrait of George Dawkins-Pennant. John Jackson, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Succession

George Dawkins-Pennant had two daughters, the elder of whom, named Julianna, married an aristocratic guardsman called Edward Douglas. The guardsman inherited the land after George passed away and changed his surname to Douglas-Pennant. He was made the First Baron Penrhyn in 1866, the second creation of the title in the peerage as the prior first Baron had not passed the title. A vaulted subterranean portion and some other structures were added to the castle during this period. 

An 1850 print of Penrhyn Castle.
An 1850 print of Penrhyn Castle. National Library of Wales, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Later years

After the Fourth Baron Penrhyn, Hugh Napier Douglas-Pennant, passed away in June 1849, the estate was inherited by his niece Lady Janet Pelham. She adopted the Dawkins-Pennant surname. In the year 1951, she had to give 40,000 acres of the land including the castle to the treasury as inheritance tax. It has since been in the possession of the National Trust and has been open to the public for visitation.

The stunning ceiling work of Penrhyn Castle.
The stunning ceiling work of Penrhyn Castle. Bs0u10e01, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Current Times

Currently, the site is a widely visited tourist destination, having received 139,164 visitors in 2019 and 2020 alone. You can tour the castle and enjoy the marvelous architecture, landscape, and historical edutainment. It’s certainly worth a visit if you’re visiting the area.

Penrhyn Castle in all its wonderful glory.
Penrhyn in all its wonderful glory. bvi4092, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Interesting Penrhyn Castle Facts

  • The construction efforts between 1822 to 1837 are estimated to have cost £150,000, which today amounts to around £49,500,000 ($66,800,250 USD).
  • Architectural writer Christopher Hussey called the castle “the outstanding instance of Norman revival.”
  • The castle contains a one-ton slate bed which was designed especially for Queen Victoria when she paid a visit to the site in 1859.
  • The castle is home to one of the finest art collections in Wales with pieces created by renowned artists such as Canaletto, Richard Wilson, Carl Haag, and Perino del Vaga.

Visiting Penrhyn Castle – Tips and Tricks

Penrhyn Castle is a stunning architectural marvel with interiors as awe-inspiring as they come. It should be a must-visit on your itinerary when you’re in Wales. Here’s some information to make your visit convenient and easy to plan:

The gorgeous interior of Penrhyn Castle.
The gorgeous interior of Penrhyn Castle. Bs0u10e01, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

How to get to Penrhyn Castle?

You can get to Penrhyn Castle from Cardiff via train, bus or car. Via train, it would take you around 5 hours and 42 minutes and would cost you between £87-£123 ($119-$169 USD). You would board the train at Cardiff Central, get off at Llandudno Junction, and board the train from there all the way to Tal-y-bont, Eglwys St Cross. From there on, the castle is a 34-minute walk away.

Going by bus is the cheapest option. It would cost you between £20-£32 ($28-$59 USD) and the journey would last around 6 hours and 16 minutes. 

Going by car is the fastest option. It would take you around 3 hours and 55 minutes and the fuel cost is estimated to be around £32-£45 ($44-$62 USD).

Ticket Prices, Visiting Hours & Travel Tips

You do not need to pre-schedule your visit to Penrhyn Castle. Ticket pricing is as follows: £12.20 ($17 USD) for adults, £6.60 ($10 USD) for children, £30 ($50 USD) for families, and £18 ($25 USD) for an adult family. If you wish to donate via Gift Aid, the admission cost for an adult is £13.20 ($19 USD), for a family, it is £33 ($46 USD) and for an adult family, it is £19.80 ($28 USD).

Opening timings of the castle are from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm all week round. 

As for now under Covid-19 restrictions, only the ground floor of the castle is accessible for visiting. You can, however, also tour the gardens, the castle shop and the castle cafe. Victorian Kitchens and the Railway Museum are also open. 

The chapel at Penrhyn Castle.
The chapel at Penrhyn Castle. The Chapel Penrhyn Castle flickr photo by rickmassey1 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

How Long Will It Take to Tour Around?

Recommended duration of the visit is 2-3 hours. You can tour the castle, take a stroll through the beautiful gardens, purchase a souvenir or two from the castle shop and top it off with a warm beverage at the castle cafe!

Some words of advice and tips: 

  • There is a 10-minute walk leading up to the castle from the ticket booth. You may take a buggy if you wish to avoid tiring yourself out before the castle tour.
  • Make sure you try the delicious cream tea in the castle’s tea room!
  • Please make sure to check in at the car park check-in area upon your arrival.
  • Wear a mask in indoor spaces!
  • Toilet facilities are available close to the visitor center as well as in the rear courtyard of the castle.
  • Dogs are allowed on the grounds outside the castle building while on a leash, but only guide dogs are allowed inside.

Quick Video Tour of The Main Penrhyn Castle Areas

Zunaira Ghazal
Zunaira Ghazal
Zunaira is an architect and designer on paper, but a writer at heart. She’s got a Bachelors in Architecture and a passion for traveling, both of which combine in her writings about timeworn castles and fortresses that have withstood the tests of time and stand proud to this day.

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