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Last Updated: Wednesday, 29 March 2006, 10:59 GMT 11:59 UK
Castle to be auctioned for 1.5m
Gwrych castle
The magnificent building was targeted by vandals and looters
One of Wales' most significant castles, which has seen better days, is to be auctioned with a price tag of 1.5m.

Grade I-listed Gwrych Castle, which was built on the outskirts of Abergele in 1819, will go under the hammer in June.

The derelict castle has been targeted by vandals over the years, and restoring it could cost the new owner an extra 3.5m.

But estate agents Beresford Adams say the castle is attracting interest from both home and abroad.

Jean Featherstone, from the Beresford Adams, said: "There has been a lot of interest in it.

"We are sending out a huge pile of brochures today. Interest has been from the corporate side, as well as private buyers."

The agents are confident of obtaining the guide price, despite the amount of work needed to restore the property.

Ms Featherstone added: "You don't tend to get castles on the market every day of the week."

Vandals

The castle once boasted beautiful stained glass windows, fireplaces, chandeliers and a magnificent 52-step marble staircase.

But many of the features were plundered by thieves and vandals, who also sprayed graffiti over the walls.

In 1999, local teenager Mark Baker founded the Gwrych Castle Preservation Trust, in an effort to save the castle and have it restored to its former beauty.

According to Mr Baker's book, The Rise and Fall of Gwrych Castle, it was built at the bequest of Lloyd Hesketh, grandfather of Winifred.

Gwrych castle
The castle could cost more than 3m to restore

Upon the site was an ancient house named Y Fron (rounded hill). When Hesketh married Lady Emily Esther Ann Lygon in 1825, Gwrych was nearly complete.

Winifred inherited Gwrych in 1894 and it became her official residence, as Countess of Dundonald.

Lady Dundonald's will stated that Gwrych should be given to King George V and the Prince of Wales, but this request was declined and it was given to St John of Jerusalem.

In 1928, Winifred's husband the Earl of Dundonald bought back the castle for 78,000 and sold the contents of the building to cover the cost.

During World War II, the castle was claimed by the government and was used to house 200 Jewish refugees.

It finally left the family's hands for good in 1946 and was opened to the public for 20 years, when it developed a reputation as the "showplace of Wales".

But it last opened to the public in 1985, and has been in rapid decline ever since.

The castle will be auctioned on 2 June at London's New Connaught Rooms.


SEE ALSO:
Funding blow for castle revamp
11 Jan 06 |  South West Wales


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