The house at Plas Newydd
Plas Newydd, which means new mansion in Welsh, sits along the shore of the Menai Strait. The ancestral home of the Marquess of Anglesey, its history stretches back over 5000 years to a Neolithic burial chamber nearby.
With superb views of the mountains of Snowdonia across the Menai Strait, it’s easy to see why a house has stood in this same spot since the early 16th century.
The house itself has changed over the years, from the original Tudor House, to the changes made by the fashionable architect James Wyatt in 1793-9 and the modernisation during the 1930s when the family of the 6th Marquess made Plas Newydd their main residence.
Today, Plas Newydd is undergoing another major period of change. A large-scale project to renew and update essential services to the house will continue until 2022. Most areas of the house will look differently at this time or be closed for periods as we protect the building and its collections. To help us share the progress and story of the work and the house, the Behind the Stage experience is incorporated throughout as part of your visit.
The Staircase Hall
An impressive hallway in the Neo-classical style. Several paintings decorate the walls, including a full-length portrait of the Duke of Wellington. Under the stairs you can see original royal letters to Lord William Paget, including one from Elizabeth I.
Stop for a while and listen to the voices of the National Trust staff who were on duty during a water leak in the house in 2011.
Lady Anglesey and Lord Anglesey’s bedrooms
With a great view across the Strait towards the Britannia Bridge, Lady Anglesey’s bedroom features soft furnishings by Sibyl Colefax, a fashionable interior designer of the 1930s. You can see samples of wallpaper and fabrics and even pick up and read duplicate archive documents from that period.
Lord Anglesey’s bedroom is home to the magnificent State Bed with its ‘flying tester’ – a canopy that appears weightless above. This bed was originally brought from Beaudesert, the family’s other home in Staffordshire, now in ruins.
The 7th Marquess’s study
A much loved and lived-in area of the house, the study remains just as the 7th Marquess left it following his death in 2013. Full of personality, this fascinating room gives a real insight into the Marquess’s work as a leading military historian and patron of local arts. You can still smell his cigar smoke, which lingers in the pages of the surrounding books and documents.
A Whistler portrait of a young 7th Marquess is also on display in the study. Other portraits of the family can be seen upstairs in the house; one of the 6th Marquess and another of Lady Caroline.
The Gothick Hall and the Music Room
Although it may look as if it’s made of stone, the ceiling is plaster painted to look like marble and the columns are wood. The walls are decorated with several paintings, including Van Dyck’s full-length portrait of Katherine Manners, Duchess of Buckingham.
The Music Room, as one of the largest in the house, is currently being used as a storage area to hold items from our collections. With so many items ‘in store’ in this area, you will often see the Collections and House team working in this room.
Once the main sitting room of the house, it still boasts fantastic views from the large bay window. Today, the Saloon is currently part of the Behind the Stage experience, helping us to explain the work currently underway elsewhere in the house to remove asbestos, once believed to be a wonder substance; it was even used as fake snow in many films such as the Wizard of Oz starring Judy Garland.
The Whistler mural
Plas Newydd is home to one of the largest and most well-known murals in the United Kingdom, painted by artist Rex Whistler. As part of the Behind the Stage, you can sit and experience the painting in a brand-new way, with lighting and a music score composed by British musical artist, Simon Pyke.