Bodelwyddan Castle is a popular tourist attraction and wedding venue set in 260 acres of parkland. It was originally built as a manor house by the Humphreys family of Anglesey in the region of 1460, but it’s most famous relationship is a 200 year history with the Williams family from circa 1690 onwards. The castle that you visit today is the design of the architects Hansom and Welch, who were commissioned to design, renovate and extend Bodelwyddan Castle (between 1830 and 1852) by Sir John Hay Williams, 2nd Baronet (9 January 1794–10 September 1859). He was a descendant of Sir William Williams, 1st Baronet of Gray’s Inn (1634 – 11 July 1700) and the son of Sir John Williams the 1st Baronet. On the 12th May 1842 took the name of Hay before Williams by Royal licence. He was the High Sheriff of Anglesey, Flintshire and Denbighshire during his life time.
It is regrettable that most of the written history of Bodelwyddan Castle was lost in a fire that occurred within a minor building in the 1920’s. The diary of Sir John Hay Williams survived and has an entry in 1829, just prior to the main restoration project of Bodelwyddan, saying that some human bones had been discovered in a wall close to a chimney. It also says that the bones were put back and resealed.
The main revenue of the Bodelwyddan Estate was from lead mining, and this declined in the 1850’s and so did the Williams family fortune. At the time of the First World War (1914-1918) the estate had been condensed in size and the house was used as a convalescence hospital. It was at this time that the nearby Kinmel Park Camp used the grounds of Bodelwyddan Castle as a training ground for trench warfare. The trenches are still there, and stand as a reminder as to what the recruits had to endure before and after their deployment to France and Belgium.
The house and estate of Bodelwyddan Castle were sold in 1920 to Lowther College, a private girl’s school. The College ran until its closure in 1982 at Bodelwyddan. The Castle was then purchased by Clwyd County Council and became a museum, gallery and tourist attraction. Then, in 1994 Clwyd County Council leased part of the castle site to the Rank Organisation for its foremost Warner Leisure hotel.
Bodelwyddan Castle is purported to be haunted:
1. The ghost of a soldier has been reported to have been seen in one of the galleries.
2. The ghost of a lady in a flowing Victorian dress has allegedly been seen in the Sculpture Gallery.
3. Shadowy figures have been seen drifting down the castles corridors and through the walls.
4. A ‘Blue Lady’ has been reported to have been seen in the Terrace Tea Room and again in the Kitchen, rattling crockery.
5. Many people have reported that they have had the sense of somebody following them in the castle, when there was nobody behind them.
6. There have been reports of unexplained voices, noises and lights within the castle.
7. Visitors to the castle have claimed that their hair has been pulled.
8. A pair of legs wearing white stockings and buckle shoes has been allegedly been sighted by a security guard
9. A hotel guest at the castle reported “My wife and I stayed at the castle and in the evening we went for a drink in the bar opposite the hotel reception. We were sat with another couple chatting away when my glass flew off the table for no apparent reason. The table was solid and not on a slope. The barmaid gave me another drink for free as she said that this had happened several times in the past. She said that the rumour was that it was the ghost of the old headmistress of the school as the bar used to be the library and she did not approve of drinking.”
10. A visitor to the castle reported “As I was walking up the staircase, I suddenly began to taste blood in my mouth and had a sharp pain on one side of my neck. It only lasted for about 10 seconds. We later found out from one of the members of staff that a young girl was supposed to have fallen over the balcony at the top of the stairs and had been killed when her neck was broken.”
11. A boarding school resident at the castle reported “I lived in the castle for four years when it was a girl’s boarding school. When I was in Upper 5 my dormitory was in the annexe and we experienced, on many nights, noises and dragging noises in the room where we slept. We were terrified and refused to sleep in that room. I remember it vividly as the noises were going on right there in our room in the middle of the night. We were so scared we had to get the headmaster involved to investigate.”
The Castle has appeared on television with regards to its supposed paranormal activity. It has been filmed by ‘Ghost Hunters International’ and ‘Most Haunted’ (Season 5, Episode 18) in 2004. The ‘Most Haunted’ team then returned to Bodelwyddan in 2010 for a ‘Most Haunted Live Series’ event, Season 13, Episode 1.
Bodelwyddan Castle promotes special paranormal activities for the general public. In the winter months there guided ghost walks between 6 and 8pm on selected evenings. Ghost hunts are available with the local paranormal investigation team, usually between 9pm and 3am for private groups and public events. There is also the chance to take part in a Victorian Séance, adults only. Bookings should be made with Bodelwyddan Castle, www.bodelwyddan-castle.co.uk.