This abandoned castle looks even better now that it's overgrown

But they're fixing it up to become the world's most regal hotel...someday

It's hard to picture what the abandoned Gwrych Castle looked like before nature reclaimed it, but it must have looked like something straight out of Downton Abbey. It's listed as a "Grade I 19th-century country house", although "house" doesn't even begin to cover the half of it-- that's a full-on castle. Although, apparently it wasn't good enough for England's King Edward VIII; it was built for Winifred Cochrane, Countess of Dundonald, between 1819 and 1825, and when she died in 1924 she willed the estate to the monarch, who (for reasons I, as a peasant commoner, will never understand) refused the gift.

It was passed to the Venerable Order of St. John, and then re-bought by another Cochrane. During World War II, it was used as housing for Jewish refugees, and then after that it was opened to the public. Between the 1950's and the 1980's, it was used as a training venue for boxers, medieval re-enactments, motorcycle rallies, and more. It was shuttered in 1985, and four years later it was purchased by an American businessman who intended to renovate it.

The planned renovation never happened (although it was featured in the 1996 Prince Valiant movie!) It was purchased by another company who also planned to turn it into a hotel, which still hasn't happened. It's under the care of the Gwrych Castle Preservation Trust, which is in the process of acquiring, repairing, preservating and maintaining the estate. They also host ghost walks around Halloween (shocker, the huge abandoned castle is haunted), open days for self-guided tours, and more. While I love that the castle is being cared for, I kind of really like the whole overgrown look. Exploring a castle is fun, but it'd be even cooler to feel like you're the first to explore it for hundreds of years.


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