Penrhyn Castle: Sordid History and Victorian Opulence

Penrhyn Castle

There are over 100 castles in Wales left standing in the Castle Capital of the World. One castle, in particular, is in Bangor. Well, it is actually a country house in the shape of a Norman Castle But, with the extravagant Victorian furnishings and the fantastic views, you can’t tell the difference. Penrhyn Castle is a magnificent must-see stop on your tour of Castles in Wales.

Penrhyn Castle InformationMain Entrance

The National Trust runs the Penrhyn Castle. Admission is free if you are a National Trust member; otherwise, it is £13.26. During the winter the Castle is open only on the weekends from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. In the spring and summer, the castle is open until 5 p.m. You can see all the opening hours here. You can find the castle at Bangor, Gwynedd, LL57 4HT, or you can use Google Maps directions. I did not have a vehicle, so I used public transportation throughout Wales. There is a bus stop right at the entrance of the Castle. The walk to the castle is 1.7 miles and will take approximately 30 minutes or so.Entrance to Penrhyn CastleDriveway to Penrhyn Castle

Cwt Ogwen Hide & Play AreaThe River Ogwen

Walking up to the castle, you pass by the Cwt Ogwen Hide & Play Area. There is an entrance sculpture to the trail down to the River Ogwen. The quiet is only disturbed by the wind rustling the leaves and the sound of the water running over rocks creating mini rapids. There is a little wood hut for you to sit and rest and look out over the river. The trail is entirely natural, so don’t expect evenness; you might even have to step over tree limbs that have fallen. But overall, the path is a pleasant diversion from the crowds at the castle. Wood sitting area in the Cwt Ogwen Hide & Play Area

Scenic LandscapeView of the Snowdonia Mountains

Penrhyn Castle has a lovely advantage point for some unbelievable views of the Snowdonia Mountains, Menai Strait, and you can even see Puffin Island. If you are feeling adventurous, there is a 1-mile Nature walk around the castle that takes you by every amazing viewpoint here. Just by walking up from the parking lot, you pass by the fields with beautiful views of the mountains.Views of Wales Countryside from PenrhynBench with views of Menai Strait

Railway Museum Charles Locomotive Engine and Train Car

The stables have been converted to display industrial trains from the Penrhyn Quarry Railway. You will see some of the remaining steam locomotives that ran on the narrow-gauge rail line along with many other historic British locomotives. You can even walk into the engines of some of the trains and see all the gadgets and controls the conductor used.Railway Museum at Penrhyn Castle

Inside the CastleRed Lounge Room

The castle is wonderfully decorated in rich colors with wood and gold accents. Touring the rooms in the castle gives you a feeling of stepping back into Victorian times. Although the history of Penrhyn Castle and family is not as favorable as other landowners during this time. The first Penrhyn Baron back in the 1800s made his fortune from slavery in Jamaica and the Penrhyn slate quarries. Knowing that their wealth and all this grandeur came off the backs of slaves, does that change your opinion of this castle?

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert once stayed here and were scheduled to sleep in the State Bedroom, but she refused. The bed is made of slate, and she said it reminded her of a tomb. The State Bedroom is designed for a queen.The State Bedroom

Victorian KitchenVictorian Kitchen

The Victorian kitchens were fascinating to me. The technology that they employed for the time is inspiring. They had warming cupboards and slate counters to keep the food cool. The kitchen would be a hub of activity with servants going in and out the doors and kitchen staff working in here to prepare the meals for the family. The castle even had an Ice House to store the food. The ice was stored in underground chambers that would keep the building cold for a year.

Gift Shop and CafeStables Gift Shop

There is a cafe and gift shop on the grounds. You go through it from the Victorian Kitchens to the main castle building. The cafe offers snacks, drinks, and sandwiches between 12 and 2:30 p.m. There is a large seating area so, plenty of space for families to rest. The gift shop is unique as it is in the remodeled stable area. Each stall is a different craft or gift from the area. So many treasures to be found here.

Outside the CastleIvy covered towers of Penrhyn Castle

Walking around the perimeter of the castle is very impressive. The towers are so large that you can’t help feeling dwarfed by them. And the ivy climbing up the walls is beautiful and looks great in photographs. There are no paths that take you completely around the castle. Although some grass areas can get you back to the pathway if you do go around the back.

Walled GardenFlower Hedges in the Walled Garden

The paths and trails around the castle can lead you to some interesting and beautiful places. There are the Chapel ruins that have a wonderful informal floral garden. There is the Adventure Playground for the young people in your group. This area is tucked back in the trails, but there are signs to point you in the right direction. But, my favorite area is the Walled Garden. This area includes benches to sit by lily ponds, fuchsia arch walkways to go under, and gazebos to overlook the entire garden. It is truly a beautiful formal garden that you must explore.Gazebo in Penrhyn Garden

SummarySide view of Penrhyn Castle

Penrhyn Castle, even with its sordid history, is a showplace that deserves to be seen and enjoyed. This is a great day out with the family to enjoy a little history, education, and top it off with a bunch of adventure in nature. Have you visited Penrhyn Castle before? What did you think about it?

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Further Reading

If you are coming to Wales for a visit, check out these posts for further travel inspiration:

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