Mixing heritage with hotels

By | Category: Travel news
New Castle

the “new” castle showing different cloured of stone

Big old stately homes which cannot be supported end up in the hands of the National Trust, get converted into flats, old people’s home or fall into disrepair until they are so unsafe they got knocked down. The largest, with swathes of heritage seeped into their walls, might get opened to the public in an attempt to make them self- funding and a few turn into hotels.

That was what happened to the Ruthin Castle Hotel in North Wales. As castles go, it’s not the most important and the heritage is limited. The old pre-Victorian castle can be seen in a few places as you wander the gardens but the building you see is a Victorian invention. But even Victorian castles require upkeep and commercial enterprises are not able to solicit normal sources of heritage funding.

So how to survive? Indeed should they survive if they are not in public ownership? Aren’t there enough pressures on public finance?

Ruthin Castle- the Edwardian verson

part of the Edward I castle in the grounds of the Ruthin Castle Hotel

Although there was probably a wooden castle, the “old” stone one dates to 1277 and was built for Edward I and given to Dafydd ap Gruffudd, the last independent prince of Wales. It passed into the hands of the Grey family who were indirectly responsible for the Owain Glyn Dwr revolt. Later the castle was owned by Tudor and Stuart monarchs. Although sold to raise cash for the civil war by Charles I, it was largely demolished during that war and decayed even further of the next centuries. On this historical basis it deserves preservation. The Welsh national heritage organisation, Cadw, is investigating the gardens as it is believed there may be a complete castle floor underneath them.

The new castle was developed by the Myddleton family from 1826. Through marriages to the Cornwallis-West family, a Churchill connection was forged as Winston Churchill’s mother married George Cornwallis- West.  But an earlier member for the family, Patsy, had a long affair with the future Edward VII yet she is largely forgotten over the more famous name of Lily Langtry. She apparently had a party trick of sliding down the stairs on a tea-tray!

Ruthin castle Hotel dslateragon

The Welsh dragon mounted on slate hanging in the hotel – memories of Owain Glyn Dwr?

After service as a hospital it became a hotel changing ownership a few times since. Now the hotel part is owned by Prima Hotels but the castle and its fabric is owned by a charity – Ruthin Castle Conservation Ltd. This charitable foundation will be eligible for grant aid towards the £2 million needed for conservation. Thus the two entities will operate separately but in unison. The hotel must function profitably but will not be constrained by conservation costs and the castle will be able to be preserved even if the hotel side collapses. With access to heritage money, this seems like a way for the future for other similarly affected buildings of historic interest.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider subscribing to the RSS feed to have future articles delivered to your feed reader.
Tags: ,