Twentieth-century indulgence

The opulent Bow Room at Chirk Castle

In 1910 Thomas Scott-Ellis, 8th Lord Howard de Walden, fell in love with Chirk Castle, and negotiated a lease with the Myddelton Family, which continued until 1946.

The Influential tenant

A man of many talents, 'Tommy's' personal interests included writing plays, operas and pantomimes, commisioning flying machines, working with radio, Welsh theatre, falconry, fencing, art and literature. Tommy also spent lavishly at Chirk Castle, bringing the infrastructure into the twentieth century so that he and his wife could host generous and lavish house parties.

Tommy also had a passion for all things medieval, staging jousts and keeping a vast collection of arms and armour. He even had his own suit of armour designed by the armourer Joubert. The artist Augustus John was staying at Chirk Castle and once found Tommy sitting in an armchair in the Billiard Room in full armour!

In 1946 Tommy left Chirk Castle and retired to his Scottish estates, dying that same year.

Thomas Scott-Ellis, 8th Lord Howard de Walden
Lord Howard de Walden portrait in uniform

What is there to see?

Now you can visit the East Wing and step back to the 1920s to experience Chirk Castle when it was home to his growing family. Relax in the Bow Room, play the piano, play chess in the dining room, and look through the family photo albums. Enjoy the bright, warm Pugin interiors and the cosy library.

Our Howard de Walden exhibition gives a feeling of what high society life would be like in the mid-20th-century. So, relax in a fireside armchair, listen to the wireless or go ‘guest hunting’ for famous early 20th-century society names in the guest book – there are quite a few to find!

Settle down in the old Butler’s Pantry to watch Lord Howard de Walden's cine film and see the Chirk Castle of the 1920s and 1930s brought to life on screen, before you explore the lower Dining Room, containing some of the oldest letters owned by the National Trust, and the Library, with its wonderful collection of books some in their original bindings.

" The Howard de Waldens entertained on a large scale, frequently including Royalty among their guests. Mrs Hardy (the cook) was in her element when serving her wonderful meals, full of flavour, colour and attraction on the lovely silver dishes."
- Hilda Wright, First Kitchenmaid from 1935 to 1941

20th-century art

Lord Howard de Walden supported many 20th-century artists and here, for the first time in more than 60 years, much of their work has been brought together for public display.

Especially, admire Wilson Steer’s landscapes and two portraits by Augustus John, an iconic painting of the de Walden family by Sir John Lavery and a remarkable bronze bust by Auguste Rodin.

Discover Tommy's own suit of armour by the Italian armourer Joubert, and the delightful model miniature used to design it, then let the music of Holbrooke cascade over before you listen to Dylan Thomas (whose work was supported by Lord Howard de Walden) reading his own poetry, on the wireless.

Sir John Lavery captures perfectly a scene of the Howard de Walden family relaxing in the Saloon
A painting of the Saloon at Chirk Castle by Sir John Lavery

Download a copy of our Access Statement here: Chirk Castle Access Statement 2017 (PDF / 0.3MB) download