Of all the times not to have my DSLR on me… exploring this abandoned mansion on the North Welsh coast was one of the worst. Having spent three years living in this beautiful corner of the world, you might have thought I had seen all there was to see… but 4 years on, this corner of the world still surprises me every time I am lucky enough to visit. Nevertheless, hooray for the advances in camera-phone wizardry that enabled me to take these images, which go a very small way to really capturing this grand, beautiful and eerie place.
Making my way off the road and skulking my way through the undergrowth, I navigated the perimeter wall and into the grounds. I came first to the gate house, which besides having no roof is still standing and looks, disconcertingly, a lot like a mausoleum. Rotten wood slats still decay underfoot. Nature is gradually creeping over the old brickwork and pulling it to pieces. A tree flexes in full leaf from an annex and into the blue sky above.
A fallen tree attempts to bar the way, crossing the narrow footbridge, towards the Manor itself. I regret wearing a scarf, which catches on the branches as I shimmy over and land with a squelch on the other side.
Passing through overgrown gardens, past a folly with a dark doorway, I wish I had had the nerve to explore a little closer, and through long abandoned cottages, presumably for the long dead staff of the estate. Wallpaper still clings to the interior in places, a shocking pink, where overgrowth has sheltered some walls of the small rooms from the rain.
Passing through a long-empty narrow doorway I am through the garden wall and Baron Hall can be seen not far in the distance. The gate has of course long gone, but you can still feel where the hinges rested in the formerly grand stone pillars.
The facade itself is magnificent and imposing, it faces downhill across small farms to the sea, but you can’t even make out the waterline through the thicket, without traipsing through yet yards more undergrowth.
The birds sing. The trees rustle. A last wooden shutter creaks and slams against its frame like a gunshot, making me jump out of my skin. I suddenly feel very alone. It’s the first time in a long while I can make out no road, hear no cars. It is so peaceful it makes my ears ring.
In the house itself, which has spent decades without ceilings or floors, there is very little evidence of its former grandeur. It is just a shell. I spy a few fireplaces, sticking strangely out of the walls many metres up, some precarious stone steps to nowhere, an old stove with no fewer than four ovens. Everything else is gone.
On returning I did a little reading and it’s past is quite illustrious. According to what I read, it dates from 1618 during the English Civil war, and was offered to King Charles I to set up Court there, out of harms way.
In the eighteenth century the house was the seat of Richard Bulkeley, 4th Viscount Bulkeley who maintained Jacobite sympathies.
During World War I, death duties soaked up the family fortune and made it impossible for the family to continue to maintain the house. During the war, Royal Engineers were stationed at the house. It was later damaged irrevocably by fire, which is why only the shell of the house survives. It has remained empty and in disrepair for 100 years.
In 2008 plans were submitted to turn the facade into luxury apartments… but these are mercifully yet to materialise.
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