I’m A Celebrity set’s ‘haunted castle’ laid bare with auction images from 1946

Auction images showing the 19th-century Gwrych Castle currently hosting this year's I'm A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! have been unveiled for the first time by archivists.

The former family home, which is rumoured to be haunted, has proudly stood in Abergele for 200 years but was originally put up for auction in July 1946, ending ownership by the Dundonald family.

Photographs dating back to the early part of the 20th-century show how the Grade I-listed castle looked before it fell into a rundown state following decades of ill-fated attempts to turn it into a hotel or tourist attraction.

In the auction listing, the castle is described as "The Well-known Picturesque Castle".

The nearly 80-year-old listing states that the castle was built during the Regency Period by Lloyd Bamford Hesketh, Esquire, and "is reputed to have cost a fortune".

It goes on to say: "The magnificent 19th-century castle and estate, which is based near Abergele in Conwy, was built more than 100 years ago between 1812 and 1822 but has been preserved to an exceptional standard, with many original features remaining throughout.

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"Situated adjoining the main coast road and within a short distance of the sea and main LMS Railway line. Providing easy access and transport links by road, sea or rail.

"The castle is set some 200ft above sea level on the side of hill, which is backed by woodland and commands magnificent views over the surrounding country and the Irish Sea as far as Liverpool.

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"The approach to the castle allows you to pass by the Great Wood, terraced gardens and parkland. The drive passes through massive stone archways to the courtyard and entrance to the castle."

It adds that the castle's mansion was built using limestone "in the Gothic style" with turrets and architraves "in worked stone and with fine stone windows with leaded lights enriched with coats of arms and old coloured glass".

The document adds that there were 26 bedrooms, nine reception rooms as well as seven bathrooms and an estate which is the same size as 700 football pitches.

The listing included photos of the castle's exterior which have also been shared for the first time.

Pictures of a dining room and one of a reception area, taken some time during the 1930s or the 1940s but not included in the listing, show the castle's interior as it would have been at the time of the auction when it was in pristine condition.

As the family home of the Earls of Dundonald, during the Second World War it served as a safe haven for hundreds of Jewish children as part of Operation Kindertransport before being listed for auction.

The old property listing was found and shared by the North East Wales Archives, with pictures provided by the Gwynedd Archive Service to celebrate Explore Your Archive week.

Gwrych Castle is said to be haunted by Winifred Cochrane, the Countess of Dundonald who lived in the family home between 1894 and 1924.

Legend has it that Winifred patrols the castle after sundown after her husband "destroyed" her life's memory at the time of her death.

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