Chirk Castle. It’s a somewhat odd legacy of a early more violent and later, opulent past.
And seemingly incomplete, its central keep standing alone on a hillside without any visible signs of the curtain walls that surely must have surrounded it many centuries ago when it was first built in 1295. Because the first castle was constructed on this site overlooking the valley of the River Ceiriog, just north of the England-Wales border, and today about eleven miles south of Wrexham and seven miles east of Llangollen (map).
It was one of several castles built by or for Edward I along the Welsh Marches. It came into the Myddleton family in the late 16th century, and remained a family home until 2004. In the 1930s however, it was home to Thomas Scott-Ellis, 8th Baron Howard de Walden, and apartments on the ground floor of the east wing redecorated in the 19th century in a Gothic style, including the library and chapel that was converted to a music room (and also acceseed from the Long Gallery on the first floor).
Some evidence of an earlier medieval period can still be seen in the 14th century Adam’s Tower on the south side, with its exposed stonework, narrow spiral stone stairways, and even a dank dungeon nine meters underground.
Chirk probably saw its last conflicts during the English Civil Wars of the 1640s, but after the Restoration of Charles II in 1660 it became a family home, luxuriously and exquisitely decorated inside over the next three centuries. From the splendid entrance hall, the elegant staircase, to the refined dining room, and the colorful ceilings in the reception rooms, designed by Victorian architect and designer Augustus Pugin, and through the seventeenth century Long Gallery, Chirk has a lot to offer.
The formal garden of yew-lined gravel paths and topiary were first laid out in the seventeenth century, and the garden stretches to the east through landscapes beds and woodland. From a ha-ha at the furthest point in the garden it’s possible (on a clear day, which it wasn’t when we visited) to see over North Wales, the Pennines to the north, and the Shropshire Hills to the southeast).
All in all, Chirk Castle has something to offer every visitor.