Gwrych Castle

Gwrych Castle is a romantic ruin that greets visitors along the A55 expressway*
Gwrych Castle is a romantic ruin that greets visitors along the A55 expressway

Wales is the land of castle, and no castle is more dramatic than Gwrych Castle, facing visitors entering Wales along the A55 expressway. Every time I drove in that direction, there were cars pulled up in the convenient layby wasting feet of film on the spectacular castle.

The only trouble is that a little consideration would show that it is not all it appears to be. Situated on the side of a hill, any half-way intelligent besieger could more or less drop stones (or canon balls) into the castle without the inconvenience of siege equipment!

Fortunately, sieges were not a consideration for the 19th century builder of this romantic folly, who wanted a dramatic home-from-home and certainly got it. Unfortunately, since its glorious heyday, Gwrych Castle has fallen on hard times. The family went bankrupt and sold the castle; after several changes of hands it fell into the clutches of an American who never came near the place - but gypsies and new age travellers did, and what they didn't steal to sell, they smashed for wanton vandalism.

We owe a tremendous amount to Mark Baker, who started out as a 13-year old doing a school project and has since made it his life's work to restore Gwrych to its former glory. This film records the Open Day to mark the first stage of the project.