National Trust reopens Penrhyn Castle

Press release
Visitor walking at Penrhyn Castle
Published : 07 Sep 2020

The opening of Penrhyn Castle from Monday 7 September marks the first in a series of phased steps to reopen houses and castles in Wales.

Last month, the National Trust reopened seven properties in England and Northern Ireland as part of a phased reopening of its 200 houses, which were closed as part of the national lockdown in March.

Penrhyn Castle will be the first to reopen in Wales, on Monday 7 September, after a five-month closure due to coronavirus. The ground floor of the castle will be accessible for visitors to discover ‘What a World!’, a creative exhibition exploring Penrhyn’s collection and the culture of colonialism.

New safety measures will be in place, including one-way systems and limited numbers to ensure that social distancing is possible, while enhanced cleaning and hand sanitising stations will be made available.

The castle will be open daily from 10am to 4pm with last admission at 3pm (the garden is open 10am to 4pm daily). Visitors will need to book their visit in advance through the online booking system, with visits limited to ensure social distancing.

Regular visitors will also notice some changes to our displays, including the removal of interactive displays and comment cards. 

The ground floor of the castle will reopen with its exciting new exhibition, ‘What a World!’, inspired by a group of local school children, it delves into the history of objects in the castle’s collection that share a colonial past.

The children worked with historians Dr Marian Gwyn and Dr Corinne Fowler to examine and research objects before teaming up with poets Martin Daws and Aneirin Karadog, to write creative responses to the objects they chose and the stories they discovered.

'What a World!’ explores Penrhyn’s collection and the culture of colonialism
Stuffed birds in a glass dome at Penrhyn Castle
'What a World!’ explores Penrhyn’s collection and the culture of colonialism

‘What a World!’ is their creative take on the objects and their history – presented through poetry, lights, colour and sound. The exhibition forms part of a wider ‘Beyond Penrhyn’ project to change the way the castle works, the stories it tells and the way it tells them.

Rhys Thomas, the Trust’s General Manager for Penrhyn Castle, said: “It’s fantastic to be able to open the doors to the castle again and launch our ‘What a World!’ exhibition. 

“Although there will be some changes to the visitor experience with a one-way route and only the ground floor open, we are excited to welcome people back and for visitors to see, hear and experience the history and stories of Penrhyn once again.”

The latest round of properties to reopen have been specifically selected to operate within current government guidelines following the pilot scheme launched in England and Northern Ireland on July 13.

The National Trust will continue to operate an advanced booking system and tickets will grant joint access to the house and gardens. Due to limits on capacity as a result of social distancing, it may not be possible for everyone to access the castle during their visit.

John Orna-Ornstein, the National Trust’s Director of Culture and Engagement says: “We have received some fantastic feedback since we started to reopen our places in July and are incredibly grateful for the patience and understanding that visitors and members have demonstrated as we start to welcome people back to our houses. 

“This latest reopening is part of a process to open all of our properties safely and we will announce more in the coming weeks and months. 

“Being able to share these beautiful places and their histories is what the National Trust is here for and we are truly excited to be able to open these houses and welcome people back.”