“The Showpiece of Wales”? No Bl**dy Wonder!
It’s name literally means, “Hedged Castle” and Gwrych was built between 1810 and 1825 by Lloyd Hesketh Bamford-Hesketh in memory of his mother, among other relatives. As we drove along the Expressway just a day after arriving in North Wales, the listed country house was clearly visible from the road and appeared to have been built into the rockface behind it; to say that it is impressive is probably the most ridiculous understatement I could possibly come up with. It is staggering. From first sight of it, it was on our list of sites to visit before heading home at the end of the week and, on our last full day we managed to secure a booking, the first of the day and, we finally headed out to see it. Though I was hoping for better weather and the chance to capture some IR frames (and was denied by the cloud and threatening drizzle) I cannot be unhappy one bit for the experience of having been able to wander through this beautiful, jaw-dropping place, with only a dozen or so other visitors at the time; it’s easy to understand why Gwrych would become so busy not even an hour later and having managed an early timeslot was to prove more than fortunate with the shots that I was able to grab before we finished our tour. But having timeslots, the need for which was obviously enforced by the pandemic – has its downsides, especially when entering the more confined or indoor spaces; visitors who’s slots were only ten or twenty minutes behind us – began to catch up and, the wish to slowly take in the place becomes an exercise in either moving out of people’s way or, worse, rushing along in order to keep our distance. The imposed one way system and countless cordons and other exclusions cut out much of the ground we had hoped to cover during our time here and that made the whole visit even shorter. So, what should have taken a good couple of hours, was over in around forty-five minutes. (There’s plenty I could say about that but common sense doesn’t always prevail and besides most of the site available was outside in the fresh air – this didn’t make much difference to the speed at which visitors were herded in, and ushered out by more following visitors.) I was and, still am a little amazed as to how they managed it given that there’s so much ground here! A calculated exercise in speedier throughput for maximum gain, perhaps. I have to admit to being rather surprised when we reached the exit arch so soon; almost as though we were the subject of a time-lapse recording. An anti-climax? Yup. You bet. But those walls (despite the crane which, in its defence, did lend an air of scale)… oh, it was worth it!
I | 1/350th – f7.6 – ISO:200 – 70mm – Spot.
II | 1/125th – f8.0 – ISO:218(!) – 24mm – Spot.
Despite poor light, I was able to snag some very pleasing frames from Gwrych Castle and no, though the castle was host to the UK show, “I’m a Celebrity…” last year, I won’t be sharing the frame of Ant & Dec’s life-size cardboard cut-outs here. With that said, the castle has a huge amount of history and claims to fame, and I’m sure last years series barely scratched the surface. A simple search from your chosen browser will return much, if places like this are your thing. But for me – I love Gwrych for what it is. Splendid. Mind-bendingly huge. One of a kind.
III | 1/220th – f8.0 – ISO:200 – 24mm – Spot.
As an aside, this post happens to be my 300th here on 35Chronicle Photography. As such, I’d like to dedicate this one to every single one of you who either read just occasionally, follow, click, comment, contribute in any way and, at any point over the last (almost) four years since I started this blog. If it weren’t for you, there would be no point in any of this. Thank you!