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Penrhyn Castle
Castell Penrhyn
Penrhyn Castle Wales 015.jpg
The donjon or keep (right) and a side view of the central block (left)
Established 1951
Location Llandygai, Bangor, Gwynedd, Wales, UK
Type Historic house
Owner National Trust

Penrhyn Castle (Welsh: Castell Penrhyn) is a country house in Llandygai, Bangor, Gwynedd, North Wales, in the form of a Norman castle. It was originally a medieval fortified manor house, founded by Ednyfed Fychan. In 1438, Ioan ap Gruffudd was granted a licence to crenellate and he founded the stone castle and added a tower house. Samuel Wyatt reconstructed the property in the 1780s.

The present building was built between about 1822 and 1837 to designs by Thomas Hopper on behalf of its owner, who expanded and transformed the building beyond recognition. The owner of the castle had many slaves, and was compensated for being deprived of them after the abolition of slavery with about the same sum as construction of the castle had cost.

Attractions

Gardens

Penrhyn's attractions include a formal walled garden, extensive informal gardens, an adventure playground, picnic areas and woodland walks.

Railway Museum

The Penrhyn Castle Railway Museum, a narrow gauge railway museum. In the nineteenth century, Penrhyn Castle was the home of the Pennant family (from 1840, the Douglas-Pennants), owners of the Penrhyn slate quarry at Bethesda. The quarry was closely associated with the development of industrial narrow-gauge railways, and in particular the Penrhyn Quarry Railway (PQR), one of the earliest industrial railways in the world. The PQR ran close to Penrhyn Castle, and when the castle was bequeathed to the National Trust in 1951 a small museum of industrial railway relics was created in the stable block. The first locomotive donated to the museum was Charles, one of the three remaining steam locomotives working on the PQR. Over the years a number of other historically significant British narrow-gauge locomotives and other artifacts have been added to the collection.

Art collection

It houses one of the finest art collections in Wales, with works by artists such as Canaletto, Richard Wilson, Carl Haag, Perino del Vaga, and Palma Vecchio. The collection formerly included a Rembrandt – (Catrina Hooghsaet, valued at up to £40 million; the Dutch Culture Ministry tried to buy the painting for Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum in 2007, but could not meet the asking price). The family began collecting paintings from the early years of the 19th century; this significant collection was catalogued by the 2nd Lord Penrhyn's daughter Alice Douglas-Pennant.

Countryside views

The castle has stunning views over the Snowdonia mountains, the Menai Strait and Puffin Island.

In 2014, David Haneke from the Welsh National Opera chose Penrhyn Castle as the location for the video design for the company's summer performance of Claude Debussy's infamous opera La chute de la maison Usher, based on Edgar Allan Poe's story The Fall of the House of Usher. Scenes filmed at the location were projected onto three separate screens during the performances.

HBO's 2019 television adaptation of the Watchmen franchise shot many scenes at the castle, they also recreated the castle as a 3D model for use in CGI scenes in the show.

A 2020 edition of the BBC's Flog It! was filmed at the castle, and included details of the Penrhyn slate quarry's 1900–1903 Great Strike about union rights, pay and working conditions, a bitter battle between the 2nd Lord Penrhyn and the quarry workers.

Events

A parkrun takes place in the grounds of the castle each Saturday morning, starting and finishing at the castle gates. The fee to enter the castle grounds is waived for runners.

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