Holt Castle in Wales reopens

Holt Castle, near Wrexham in northern Wales, was re-opened last week after the completion of a four year restoration project.

The medieval fortress was built by John de Warenne, the Earl of Surrey, around 1282. It was built of an unusual pentagonal design with five high round tours surrounding a pentagonal inner courtyard. Following its abandonment after the Civil War it was subjected to systematic demolition initially by Thomas Grosvenor, to the extent that very little, apart from the central courtyard now survives, at least above ground.

This video shows how Holt Castle would have looked in the Middle Ages:

Over the last four years Wrexham Heritage Service has removed the vegetation that used to hide the remains; has conserved the castle’s surviving masonry; has undertaken a series of archaeological excavations involving local volunteers; has purchased the Little Park to the south of the castle and installed new and improved interpretation. A stair has also been installed in order to allow the public to visit the castle’s former courtyard and a number of free leaflets and educational worksheets have been produced.

Local councillor Hugh Jones commented, “Holt Castle was once one of Wales’s strongest and most impressive castles; it also has an amazing history, with stories of treasure, sieges and intrigue. Thanks to funding from the Rural Development Programme and the Welsh Government via Cadw we have been able to transform this monument from a dangerous eyesore into a castle of which I hope that the local community will be proud. I would particularly like to thank the local community for their help and support throughout the project and particularly those volunteers who gave up their own time to assist in the archaeological work, as well as the dedicated leadership and expertise of Steve Gretner in guiding this project to fruition.”

Ken Skates, the Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism in Wales, added “I am thrilled to be asked to take part in the celebration of the opening of Holt Castle, which I believe to be one of Wales’s hidden gems. I am pleased that the Welsh Government has been able to contribute funding towards this important project and that our historic environment service Cadw has been providing help and specialist support and guidance.

“Our heritage shapes our national identity and brings significant economic benefits, this is why it is so important that we continue to protect it through projects such as this and why we have introduced the Historic Environment (Wales) Bill to ensure our built heritage continues to be managed and protected for future generations.”

The cost of the four-year project was £143,000. Wrexham Heritage Service received financial assistance from the Rural Development Plan for Wales 2007-2014 which is funded by the Welsh Government and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and from Cadw: Welsh Historic Monuments.

Holt Castle in 2007, before restoration - photo by Peter Craine / Wikimedia Commons
Holt Castle in 2007, before restoration – photo by Peter Craine / Wikimedia Commons

Holt Castle today…

Please visit the Wrexham County Borough Council website to learn about how to visit the castle

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