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More a country house than a military fortification, but utterly magical and set amongst some of Wales' most beautiful scenery

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Despite the name, Penrhyn Castle is actually more of a country house than a real military fortification. Instead of being built for combat, it was developed in the early 19th century for purely aesthetic reasons. It certainly wouldn't be practical in a war, especially since it has ground floor windows. However, it looks utterly magical. The dramatic towers and turrets look like they've been taken straight out of a child's imagination. The building is set amongst some of Wales' most beautiful scenery, with the waters of the Menai Strait on one side, and the mountains of Snowdonia looming up in the other.

Photo by The Ancient Brit
Penrhyn was built for the Pennant family, who had grown rich from selling Jamaican sugar, and Welsh slate. Much of the slate used during construction was taken from the local mines.

Photo by Verity Cridland
When you enter the house, you can see more evidence of just how much money the Pennants had! The main entrance leads to a huge grand hall, which is decorated with elegant stone arches and intricate carvings. It's all done in an interpretation of the Norman style from the 11th and 12th centuries. It's debatable how accurate it all is, but it certainly looks impressive.

The Entrance to Penrhyn Castle
Photo by Verity Cridland
The interior contains large collections of art and furniture. One particularly notable item is a large slate bed, which quite literally weighs a ton. Queen Victoria slept here during her visit in 1859.
Another royal visitor was the Prince of Wales, in 1894. In preparation for his visit, the kitchens and servants' rooms of the mansion would have been a bustling hive of activity. The National Trust have since restored these areas of Penrhyn to what they would have looked like during this busy time.
The grounds surrounding the castle are full of beautiful trees and flowers. The gardens are closed during the winter, but during the warmer months, they undergo constant changes, as different flowers bloom. Depending on when you visit, you may come across huge crowds of daffodils, snowdrops, or bluebells. Thanks to the nearby Gulf Stream's warm currents, the mild climate of the area allows other species to grow which are rarely seen in Wales. Other unusual plants can be seen in the Victorian walled garden, which protects them from the elements.

Part of Penrhyn Castle Gardens
Photo by Verity Cridland
Elsewhere on Penrhyn's grounds, a converted stable building features a few small, but interesting museums. One features a comprehensive collection of 19th and 20th century dolls, while another showcases model trains and railways.

Inside the Museum at Penrhyn Castle
Photo by lisibo
Penrhyn Castle is a huge, jaw-dropping building, with all sorts of interesting nooks and crannies. It will come as no surprise that, back in the 19th century, it cost the Pennant family a massive 150,000 to build. In today's money, that's around 50 million!
Visitor Information
Penrhyn Castle, Bangor, LL57 4HN. Open April to October on, Wed, Thur, Fri, and Sat. Entry Costs around  £8 for adults, child £4, family £20. Groups £6.50. Garden and stable block exhibitions only: £5.40, child £2.70. Located 1 mile east of Bangor, at Llandygai on A5122. Tel: 01248 353084

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