A brief history of Penrhyn Castle

The castle took over 13 years to build © Matthew Antrobus

The castle took over 13 years to build

The current Penrhyn Castle was built between 1820 and 1833 for George Hay Dawkins Pennant by the famous architect Thomas Hopper.

Known for his unorthodox style, Hopper opted not to follow the fashion for Gothic architecture. He went against the grain, choosing a neo-Norman design. Hopper's hands-on approach also meant he oversaw the designing and building of the castle's furniture, made by local craftsmen.

In 1840, with the castle finished, George Hay Dawkins Pennant died. His daughter, Juliana, inherited Penrhyn.

She, in turn, married Edward Gordon Douglas. He later became the 1st Lord Penrhyn of Llandegai.

The Gallery of North Wales

Before he died George Hay Dawkins Pennant had charged his son in law (the new Lord Penrhyn) with developing the castle’s collection of paintings.

Edward did this to great effect, amassing an outstanding collection of Dutch, Venetian and Spanish paintings. The collection gave Penrhyn its reputation of being ‘the Gallery of North Wales’ at that time.

Twentieth-century changes

In 1949, after the death of the fourth Lord Penrhyn, the land and title separated. The title went to Frank Douglas Pennant, who became fifth Lord Penrhyn, and the land went to the fourth Lord’s niece, Lady Janet Harper.

Only two years later Penrhyn Castle, along with the Ysbyty Ifan and Carneddau estates came under our care.