Lord Howard de Walden: Great patron of Wales

The Howard de Walden family in the Saloon at Chirk Castle by John Lavery © Howard de Walden estate

The Howard de Walden family in the Saloon at Chirk Castle by John Lavery

This autumn the East Wing here at Chirk Castle is being redisplayed to explain the life of Thomas Scott Ellis - Eighth Lord Howard de Walden, the twelfth richest man in Britain and an astonishing polymath.

You name it, he did it
From writing about heraldry as a medieval historian, to editing Burke's Peerage, competing in the 1908 Olympics, having five children, horse racing, sailing, hawking, golfing, flying, model-boating, promoting a revival of the Welsh Language and Eisteddfods, the establishment of the Welsh National Theatre, housing Dylan Thomas, writing libretti for operas (music by his friend Joseph Holbrooke), writing pageants and pantomimes for his children and their friends - he did the lot.

Get a feel for his life
This autumn you'll be able to relax in the sumptuous armchairs in front of a blazing fire while reading letters from the glitterati of 1920s society, or flicking through the family's photo albums. Or you can listen to the wireless, play with the toy theatre, or just take in some of the family’s fabulous art collection that is being displayed for the first time.

Pantomimes and dragons
Become a house guest for the afternoon and take part in Lord Howard de Walden’s latest pantomime. Learn your lines, put on a costume and join Mr Gilbanks the school room tutor with impromptu performances of The Reluctant Dragon

20th-century art
Lord Howard de Walden commissioned works by many leading 20th-century artists and some of these are being brought back to Chirk to be seen together for the first time since 1946. These include portraits by Augustus John and John Lavery, landscapes by Wilson Steers, bronze busts by Rodin and even a complete suit of armour by Joubert.

The collection gives a fascinating insight into the man some call the last great patron of Wales.

Medieval family home and party house
Lord Howard de Walden leased Chirk Castle from 1911 to 1946 and spent a fortune repairing it and equipping it for huge house parties for  royalty, artists, writers, poets and musicians. This energetic, constantly changing life at Chirk is now being recreated for all to experience.