August 7, 2022

Inside the ‘haunted’ Gwrych Castle in Wales where I’m a Celebrity is filmed

I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! is back on our screens, with a new group of celebrities competing to be named the King or Queen of the Castle.

While the series usually takes place in the Australian wilderness, this year showrunners have been forced to adapt due to the pandemic for the second year running.

That means the show is being filmed this year in the ruins of Gwrych Castle in Wales, a 200-year-old medieval castle that some believe is “haunted”.

With a history dating back to 1810, Gwrych Castle is a spectacular Grade 1 listed country house in the moors of Conwys, north Wales.

With 250 acres of gardens and grounds, the castle has incredible views across former parkland and across the Irish Sea.

Its official website explains that Gwrych Castle was built between 1812 and 1822 by Lloyd Hesketh Bamford-Hesketh, as a memorial to his mother’s ancestors, the Lloyds of Gwrych.

It was built on the site of an Elizabethan house named Y Fron (“rounded hill”), which had fallen into dereliction.

A number of important architects have become associated with the castle and its estate over the years, including Charles Augustus Busby, Thomas Rickman, and George Edmund Street.

In 1940, Henry Kennedy was employed to add extensions to the castle – including a new bedroom wing, staircase and porch – during the 1840s.

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The castle is said to be haunted by the ghost of Winifred Cochrane, Countess of Dundonald, a poet, landowner and patron of the Welsh arts who supposedly had a grudge against her husband. Visitors claim to have seen an angry woman in white stalking her way along the walls.

The castle was requisitioned during the Second World War as part of Operation Kindertransport, when it housed 200 Jewish refugee children who had fled the Nazis. After the war it was sold by the Dundonald family, which ended almost 1,000 years of continuous family ownership.

The castle has views that look out over the Irish Sea

(Rex Features)

It was purchased in 1948 by Leslie Salts, who ran it as the “Showplace of Wales” for 20 years, after which it was sold again and operated as a medieval entertainment centre. During this time, the castle suffered a period of decline that culminated in its being closed to the public in 1985.

In 1997, it was rescued by schoolboy Mark Baker, who launched a campaign to save it by writing to Tony Blair and Prince Charles.

He set up Gwrych Castle Preservation Trust to raise awareness of its chequered history, and the trust finally bought the castle in 2018.

I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! begins on Sunday 21 November at 9pm on ITV. 

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