Fantasy castle with industrial and colonial foundations
The dominating stone façade of Penrhyn Castle hides more than just its internal red-brick construction. Built in the early 19th century, its formidable architecture, opulent interiors and fine art collection lean on a long history of sugar and slate fortunes, social unrest and the longest-running industrial dispute in British history.
Owned by the Pennant family, Penrhyn is a key example of how wealth derived from slavery shaped the built environment of Wales and underpinned local working histories. A staunch anti-abolitionist, Richard Pennant’s fortune – acquired from sugar plantations in Jamaica that used enslaved labour – funded roads, railways, schools, hotels, workers’ houses, churches and farms in North Wales. The Penrhyn Slate Quarry and Port Penrhyn, established by the Pennants, dominated the Welsh slate industry for almost 150 years. Penrhyn Castle’s vast rooms, rich neo-Norman architecture and opulent furnishings are steeped in these colonial histories.
Set on the Menai Straits, with a backdrop of Snowdonia’s summits, Penrhyn Castle commands views to its quarry, and to the port from where the slate was exported around the world. It is surrounded by wooded and open parkland, ripe for exploring, and a walled garden that pre-dates the Castle and provides a calm haven for relaxation.