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Explore the Past at Historic Houses & Stately Homes in Wales

picton castle

Explore the Past at Historic Houses & Stately Homes in Wales

Time travel may be a distant dream, but you can easily experience the world of yesteryear by visiting historic houses, castles and stately homes in Wales. These awe-inspiring attractions are imbued with cultural significance, telling the stories of the country’s most eccentric aristocrats.

Head to Penrhyn Castle in North Wales and meet Ednyfed Fychan ap Cynwrig – a brave Welsh warrior who founded the original fortified manor before its renovation in the 1820s. Alternatively, revel in the fondness between the Yorke family and their staff at Erddig in North East Wales. Here, an extensive portrait collection provides insight into how 18th to 20th-century servants lived.

Wherever you’re based, there’s bound to be historical attractions in Wales nearby for the whole family to enjoy. Why not continue the blast from the past with an exciting museum or gallery tour afterwards?

Historic houses – North Wales

Penrhyn Castle

Penrhyn Castle has an insidious history, having been inherited by anti-abolitionist George Hay Dawkins-Pennant. He used his vast fortune from Jamaican sugar plantations to fund his estate alongside local roads, railways, churches and more. After the Slavery Abolition Act 1833, the government even compensated him for “loss of labour” and he inherited a sum equal to the castle’s building costs. The National Trust includes information about the former owner’s dark past to show how colonialism shaped the surrounding Welsh landscape.

In many ways, Penrhyn Castle is symbolic of the period’s extreme wealth divide. While undeniably beautiful, cocooned by parkland with Snowdonia’s summits in the distance, its opulence feels unsettling when understood in context. Nevertheless, it serves as an important landmark to dispel ignorance, revealing the injustices of the transatlantic slave trade.

Bodysgallen Hall

Nestled within 200 acres of private woodland, Bodysgallen Hall is the perfect location for history buffs come whimsical romantics. After investigating the 17th-century building’s luxurious interiors, why not amble around the award-winning rose garden and sweet-smelling parterre? In the distance, Conwy Castle and Snowdonia’s peaks stand proudly, blanketing guests with a lasting sense of wonder.

Having been modernised, you can now book to stay at Bodysgallen Hall for a relaxing weekend getaway. The traditional rooms retain their original charm, including antique fireplaces and fine paintings for an authentic yet comfortable night’s sleep. There’s also an on-site spa offering beauty and wellbeing treatments – ideal for a weekend of indulgence!

Historic houses South Wales

Dyffryn House and Gardens

Peaceful and secluded, Dyffryn House and Gardens began as a family home tucked away in 55 acres of greenery on the outskirts of Cardiff. The present-day building combines many architectural influences and decor styles, encapsulating the previous owner’s passion for peculiarity. A grand porte-cochère leads to the main hall, complete with chimneypieces and life-size wooden Mannerist figures. Meanwhile, stained glass windows showcase the manicured Edwardian gardens outside.

Distinguished architect Thomas Mawson designed the gardens in 1906, prioritising a collection of unique plant species from across the globe. The arboretum is especially impressive and one of the best collections in the National Trust, homing Champion trees recognised for their enormous size, great age and rarity.

Tredegar House

Celebrated as one of the greatest architectural wonders of Wales, Tredegar House is a must-see for restoration enthusiasts. For more than 500 years, it belonged to one of the country’s most esteemed families. In fact, the Morgan’s of Tredegar were instrumental in shaping the region’s social, economic, and political attitudes.

 

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The original structure dates back to the late 15th-century, but William Morgan introduced the iconic red-brick Carolean form between 1644 and 1672. Inside, oak panelling and ornate carvings frame the rooms, starring wreaths of wooden flowers and scrolled acanthus friezes. Once you’ve examined the artwork, step outside into the elegant mansion gardens. The aromas of the orchard, cedar and orangery permeate the air, transporting stressed-out city dwellers into a heady oasis of calm.

Historic houses East Wales

Erddig

Erddig, near Wrexham, provides unparalleled insight into the lives of servants in the 18th to the 20th-century. An extensive collection of carefully preserved portraits adorn the walls, each including a short poem composed by master Philip Yorke I.

“From room to room, She drove the dust, With brush and broom, And by the Virtues of her mop, To all uncleanness put a stop.”

 

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Nearby lies a fully restored 18th-century garden with fruit trees, herbaceous borders, rows of pleached limes and a diverse collection of ivies. The Clywedog River and Black Brook run through the estate, and you might even get a glimpse of otters and herons catching their morning fish.

Chirk Castle

If you’re looking for a full-day adventure, there’s plenty to do and see at Chirk Castle. The interiors overflow with rich tapestries and furniture, symbolising the decadence of high society, while the gardens comprise polished lawns, yews and shrub borders.

 

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Best of all, the estate sits within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. You can spend hours strolling through the wildflower meadows, alive with rare invertebrates, fungi, and flowers. Plus, there’s ample opportunity to spot precious local wildlife.

Historic houses West Wales

Picton Castle

Picton Castle is hailed as Pembrokeshire’s finest stately home, running a multitude of activities for the whole family. Amenities include Picton Galleries and its illustrious exhibitions, the Welsh Owl Garden and a tempting afternoon tea service bursting with locally-sourced produce. There’s even an escape room to test brainiacs and an outdoor play area for energetic kids.

Activities aside, you’re sure to adore the castle’s Georgian splendid. The building holds 800 years of history, and guided tours delight visitors with engaging tales of lords, romance and tragedy. The RHS gardens have one of the best collections of conifers, roses and medicinal herbs in Wales – ideal for budding horticulturists who want to test their knowledge.

There’s a wealth of breathtaking historic houses, castles and stately homes in Wales, just waiting to be explored! Whether you choose an overnight stay or a passing day trip, you’ll walk away with a greater appreciation of the country’s abundant architectural achievements. For more information on things to do and places to stay during your break in Wales, browse our blog today. 

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