Manon Steffan Ros - 12 stories
Fictional stories and artistic interventions by the renowned Welsh Author, Manon Steffan Ros - a creative response to Penrhyn Castle's past, present and future.
This year (2018) Penrhyn Castle is launching a collection of brand new fictional pieces '12 Stories' by the author Manon Steffan Ros. These fictional creations are her own response to the difficult history of the castle and its origins steeped in the Jamaican slave trade and the slate quarry industry of North Wales.
Growing up locally and attending secondary school in Bethesda itself, Manon experienced first hand the deep rooted feelings of hatred towards the Castle that once was home to the Pennant family.
Manon herself feels her own relationship to the castle to be torn, feeling an intense draw whilst also feeling a sense of guilt at the obvious opulence and difficult historical ties to the sugar plantations in Jamaica and the lives of the hard working quarrymen of Bethesda at the turn of the 20th century.
'I certainly won't be presenting a 'Downton Abbey' version of the castle and its histories. It's going to be painfully honest" said Manon during a recent visit to the castle. "Penrhyn Castle has been in my thoughts for over 20 years, and this project feels a little like fate has played a part - I think that I'm always going to return to it in some way".
Manon has primarily worked with the written word, a successful published author, she is looking forward to presenting some of the 12 stories through other mediums, including both visual and musical interpretations.
One of the reasons Manon feels so strongly about the castle and telling its stories lies in her past. As a teenager, Manon became a volunteer at the castle - much to the amusement of many of her peers from Bethesda. During her time at the castle, she was re-telling the story of the strike and the quarry to some visitors as she felt this was an essential part of the overall experience of a visit to Penrhyn.
However, a member of staff at the time overheard her telling the story and promptly told her to stop. She was told during that visitors only want to hear the pleasant part of the history. As this was not something she was at all comfortable with she left soon after.
However, Manon has seen a change take place within the castle.
"I'm amazed by the change in attitude - it was totally unexpected! There is a strong need in the Castle to tell the real stories, and not to leave anything out".