Bodelwyddan Castle: About The Hauntings And History
History Through The Ages
Bodelwyddan Castle is a Grade II listed Victorian building found near the village of Bodelwyddan, Denbighshire, on the north Wales coast. It was originally built as a manor house for the Humphreys family of Anglesey in 1460.
This historic fortress was later related to the Williams-Wynn family from the 1680s and remained in Sir William Williams, Speaker of the House of Commons, family for over 200 years!
In 1805, the castle was remodelled into a Greek Revival style. Between 1830 and 1832, architects Joseph Hansom and Edward Welch were called upon by Sir John Hay Williams to extend the house. They made it more castle-like, including Rapunzel-style turrets, an estate wall and formal gardens.
The castle features Victorian Gothic architecture, seen in its elaborate details, vaulted ceilings and vibrant colours. The Williams Hall, in particular, showcases the extravagance of such Victorian designs.
This haunted estate has been said to be one of Hansom’s most aspiring projects, “being wildly dramatic and owing nothing to its predecessors.”
In the late 1880s, Sir Herbert, 7th Baronet, inherited Bodelwyddan Castle from his heirless cousin, and more refurbishment work was done.
During WWI, the castle served as a recuperation hospital for injured soldiers. The eastern estate grounds were used for warfare trench training, with those trenches still seen today!
Lowther College, a private girls’ school, leased the property in 1920. It’s been said that it was the first private school for girls to have its own swimming pool (and golf course). The college purchased the property from the Williams family in 1925 and welcomed its first male scholars in 1977. Lowther College closed its doors in 1982 due to financial difficulties.
The Clwyd County Council bought the property in the 1980s with the intention to develop the castle into a visitor attraction, museum and art gallery.
In 1994, part of Bodelwyddan mansion was rented to the Rank Organization. They operated under the Warner Leisure Hotel Group, turning the castle into a luxury hotel. Today, it’s known today as Bodelwyddan Castle Hotel.
From Castle To Museum And Art Centre
Roderick Gradidge was the building genius behind Bodelwyddan Castle’s revived makeover when the Clwyd Council got him in to restore it to its Victorian grandness.
The council teamed up with the National Portrait Gallery and the Royal Academy of Arts. In 1988, the portrait gallery was officially opened and claimed the “Museum of the Year” award in 1989. The art collection includes 155 portraits and has hosted many touring exhibitions.
Closure of the castle grounds
The castle’s partnership with the National Portrait Gallery ended in 2017. And Denbighshire County Council cut off the funding. This also marked the time when the castle museum was closed to the public as the council decided to part ways with the property. But the castle grounds and parklands still allowed visitors during this time.
Fast-forward to February 2019, the 99-year lease was still up for sale. By August 2019, the Bodelwyddan Castle Trust announced that “public access is no longer granted for the woodlands, parklands, play area and trench experience,” and so the beloved Welsh landmark became off-limits.
In 2021, Bourne Leisure Hotels bought the remaining part of the castle from the council. And the Bodelwyddan Hotel continued trading.
The Bodelwyddan Castle has gained a spooky reputation, attracting visitors interested in ghost stories.
Ghostly phenomena have been reported, including:
- The sounds of children playing
- The feeling of having your hair or clothes pulled
- Spooky sightings of children in the Toy Room
Dark, shadowy figures are often seen wandering around the castle, and lights flicker without explanation. Guests have the feeling of being followed, and many have heard strange eerie sounds.
The “Blue Lady” is often seen in the Sculpture Gallery, where she walks through walls and vanishes into thin air. She also appears in the kitchen, rattling dishes in the dead of night.
Soldiers, presumably from WWI times, are said to haunt the castle’s corridors. And visions of Victorian women have appeared throughout the castle.
The “Cellar Man” is a playful spirit in the castle’s basement that often pulls the hair of female staff members.
Bodelwyddan Castle Hotel
While The Bodelwyddan Castle Hotel may have a reputation as one of Wales’s most haunted places, it is set on romantic castle grounds and boasts 260 acres of Victorian parkland. It has fantastic views of the Clwydian Range that borders England and North East Wales.
Seamlessly blending a historic castle with all the amenities of a luxury, modern hotel offers an exciting selection of leisure facilities (such as swimming pools, a sauna, a games room, etc), daily activities (such as archery) and nightly live entertainment.
The Bodelwyddan Castle Hotel has 236 rooms, of which there are 45 Garden Lodges, 8 Royal Rooms, 96 Signature Rooms, 87 Standard Rooms and… A few ghosts!
Bodelwyddan Castle Hotel, Bodelwyddan, Denbighshire, Wales, LL18 5YA
Visit the Warner Leisure Hotel Group’s website for more details.
Nice-to-have amenities include:
- Free Wi-Fi
- Free Parking
- Fully stocked mini-bar (not for Standard Rooms)
- Comfy chairs
- Tea & coffee-making facilities with biscuits
- St David’s Restaurant: The hotel’s cosy on-site restaurant serves buffet-style breakfasts and three-course dinners.
- Lowther Hall: The hotel’s main entertainment venue includes a stage and dance floor.
- Mulberry Lounge: Found in the Spa and Wellness Centre, offering light snacks and drinks.
Starting from £100 per person per night, including breakfast.
Places near the Castle Hotel
- Aber Waterfall is a 35-minute car drive away.
- Betws-y-coed found nestled in the Gwydyr Forest, is a 35-minute car drive away (and has the world’s fastest zip line).
- Explore Mount Snowdon – inside the National Park – on the Snowdon Mountain Rail – less than an hour’s drive away.
Is the art gallery at Bodelwyddan Castle still open?
No. The National Portrait Gallery partnership was ended in 2017 when the Denbighshire County Council ended its funding.
Are there ghosts at Bodelwyddan Castle?
According to reports, the castle is believed to be haunted. A groundsman once said he saw a pair of disembodied legs, who wore black shoes with gold buckles and white stockings, at the castle entrance when he was doing his nightly rounds. Creepy!
As the sun sets behind the magnificent Clwydian Range and the echoes of (ghostly) laughter fill the air, one can’t help but feel that Bodelwyddan Castle Hotel is more than a place to stay. It’s like taking a step back in time, steeped in history and infused with a magical, modern touch and is well worth a visit! Just don’t forget to pack your ghost-hunting gear. You never know what might be lurking in the shadows…