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Bodelwyddan Castle Hotel History

Denbighshire’s glorious and romantic folly, despite the implications of the name, follies are today recognised as a light-hearted punctuation to the British landscape which, in the fashion of the era, often echoed earlier styles. In the case of Bodelwyddan, this is a heady and immensely appealing mixture of Gothic, Jacobean and Greek revival. Architectural medley it may be; yet there’s little especially casual about Bodelwyddan’s history.

The father of Sir John Williams, 1st Baronet of Bodelwyddan was the man we’ve most to thank for the fine country hotel you can enjoy today. He was the formidable Sir William Williams; powerhouse lawyer, Recorder of Chester, Speaker of the House of Commons in Charles II’s final parliament and Solicitor General under James II.

In the early 19th Century, Sir John re-modelled the site’s original Elizabethan house, doing so he raised a magnificent and imposing country mansion, less than one hour from the mountains of Snowdonia and with remarkable views of the Clwydian Hills. The fortress feel of Bodelwyddan (pronounced boddle-withan) was further accentuated after 1830 when battlements, extensions and internal modifications were added by Sir John’s successors.

In 1914, in a splendid irony, the house that a century earlier had been designed to look like a castle was requisitioned by the army for nearby Kinmel Barracks, where they used the vast grounds to practice trench war-fare, before settling into a more benign middle age until 1982 as Lowther College.

Today, you can find evidence of its educational tenure in a beautifully-decorated Royale bedroom that was the original head teacher’s study. Finally, the sculpture gallery is well worth seeing; this stunning space, with its vaulted ceiling and original 18th Century marble chimneypiece, is reportedly haunted by the ghost of a lady. Unlikely, maybe, but unsurprising, for when a hotel’s as exceptional as Bodelwyddan Castle, who’d want to leave?

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"The properties are all stunning. What we like most is the peace and quiet, the tranquility of the place. Nobody’s rushing around. You can go from one thing to another or just sit down and do nothing. And nothing’s ever overcrowded. You can wander around and think where’s everybody gone and then they all turn up for tea."

Carol Stansbridge Bodelwyddan Castle