A Welsh castle used by I’m a Celebrity… during the covid pandemic is set to undergo a £2.2million makeover to repair its collapsed roof and derelict rooms.
Gwrych Castle, near Abergele in Conwy County, North Wales, became the unlikely site of I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here’ during the Covid-19 pandemic.
After its appearance on the show, the castle became a thriving tourist destination, receiving thousands of visitors every month.
But the castle has been in decline since 1987, with renovations organised by its former owner falling through.
However, funds raised from I’m a Celeb along with donations from the National Heritage Fund means the Grade I listed 19th-century building can be repaired.
Artistic rendering shows an image of the Library and Drawing Room in 1950 set over an image of the Library as it stands today at the ruins of Gwrych Castle
Pictured: The Library at Gwrych Castle in 1950
View of the Library and Drawing Room taken in March 2023
Pictured: The marble staircase at Gwrych Castle in 1960
‘I’m a Celebrity – Get Me Out of Here!’ TV Show, Series 21, was filmed at Gwrych Castle
The historic building hosted the ITV programme in 2020 and 2021 amid the travel restrictions imposed in Queensland, Australia, where celebrities usually fly to take part in the series.
But, more than 70 years ago, the castle was put to a much more important use amid the unfolding horrors of the Second World War.
From 1939 until 1941, the castle was a safe haven for around 200 Jewish refugees who had fled Nazi-occupied Europe as part of the Kindertransport scheme.
It became the largest of around 20 agricultural training centres – known as hachsharot in Hebrew – that relocated to Britain from Germany during the war.
Between 1982 and 1986 the location attracted scooterists from across Britain, with there being accounts of exhibitions of the vehicles at the site.
Because there were very few staff, when they turned their backs young people in attendance would steal kegs from the bar and carry them outside where many would help themselves.
Pictured: The Great Hall of Gwrych Castle in 1949
Artistic rendering shows an image of the Great Hall set over an image of the hall today
Pictured: View of the Great Hall taken in March 2023
After its appearance on the show, the castle became a thriving tourist destination
What was once the marble staircase at Gwrych Castle photographed in 2023
The Staircase Balcony at Gwrych Castle photographed in 2023
According to Rhyn Williams, researcher for Gwrych Castle Preservation Trust, it was commonplace for children and teenagers to swing from the chandeliers and jump on and break large antique tables.
On another occasion someone rode their Lambretta scooter through one of the stained-glass windows.
The castle suffered more damage through vandalism through the years, with battlements being ‘toppled’ from towers.
Looters reportedly sold off fittings, including fireplaces and stained glass, and stripped the slates and lead from the roof by 1994.
The castle was purchased by the Gwrych Castle Preservation Trust in 2018 thanks to funds donated by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, National Heritage Memorial Fund Richard Broyd Charitable Trust and other organisations.
The Library bay window with sliding sashes at Gwrych Castle in the 1960s
Pictured: The castle’s library fireplace in 2023
Pictured: An illustration of Gwrych Castle during the 1800’s
An architectural sketch of Gwrych Castle in its current condition as of November 2023
New images published by the Gwrych Castle Preservation Trust yesterday show how the group intend to restore the roof of the building.
In the stunning before and after images, thanks to the help of image editing and old photographs, the group shows how they plan to restore the castle to its former glory.
Chairman of the Trust, Dr Mark Baker, said: ‘It’s been 30 years in the making but we’re very excited to share the first view of the proposed new roof created by the talented team at Chambers Conservation, who we will be working with along the way to make this dream a reality.’
The next six months will be taken up by the project team preparing and submitting a planning and listed building consent application for the roof and flooring works to take place.