Chirk Castle, Chirk, Wrexham, Wales
Have you ever visited somewhere and when you sit down later to reflect you cannot decide if you enjoyed your visit or not? That’s how I feel about Chirk Castle.
I’ll explain why in a moment. First the directions and history bit.
Chirk Castle is located close to the village of Chirk which is roughly in between Oswestry and Llangollen and Wrexham and is well sign posted from the A5.
The Castle was built in the 1300’s by Roger Mortimer who was the Justice of Wales for Edward I and the castle was later sold to Sir Thomas Myddelton in 1595, he descendents continue to live in part of the castle to this day.
There is more history and information on the castle on the links below :-
Now back to why I am undecided about whether I enjoyed Chirk Castle.
The Castle itself is very nice and lots of the original features of the house remain but its nothing spectacular and the National Trust has far better properties with the same features, furniture and fittings. Especially when you consider that its £9.20 (Adults) or £4.60 (Children) to get into Chirk Castle!
Most of the fittings and furniture in the house are from the 1700’s and some of the plasterwork on the ceilings is a delight to view, pity it’s so dark inside!
As a large area of the castle is still lived in then there is only a limited selection of rooms to see, but there is a part of the castle which has retained most of its 1300’s charm with stone walls, fireplaces and staircases. There is also a dungeon in the older part of the castle which is accessed down a long spiral stair case. You can appreciate what it would have been like to have been locked up down here with only three tiny windows set almost 20 feet above the dungeon ceiling.
There is also the obligatory National Trust Shop selling the same stuff as all the other National Trust Shops, a licensed tea room, which I though was quite expensive and adequate toilet and baby changing facilities.
Next to the Castle are the gardens and this for me is where the Chirk Castle really redeems itself.
The gardens at Chirk are one of the best I’ve seen at a National Trust property and all credit must go to the gardeners at Chirk for making them look superb. The gardens lined with clipped yew trees which are shaped and trimmed to perfection. I’ve seen hedges like these before at Tatton Park and although the ones at Tatton are larger they aren’t as well looked after as those at Chirk.
As most of the garden area is fairly flat it’s very accessible to all and a walk down the main avenue from the house will take you past the rockery gardens and the Hawk House and down to the castle walls and some beautiful views across the valley towards St Martin and Ellesmere. In fact most of the areas around the castle offer stunning views of the surrounding countryside.
If you walk along the castle walls you will come to another avenue which leads uphill and back to the house, passing a statue of Hercules. Unfortunately as the sign nearby explains, Hercules has seen better days and although restored is missing vital bits of his anatomy.
The gardens are really beautiful to walk round and they are extremely peaceful and quiet if you want an hour to yourself.
So overall I thought that Chirk Castle was a bit limp but was redeemed by its gardens. I thought the staff at the Castle where a little over bearing as instead of being greeted by a “Hello” we where greeted by “There´s no photography allowed inside the castle” sheesh! Give some people a National Trust Staff badge and they think their some kind of Police Authority.
And when I asked one of the staff if the pillars in the main staircase where pilasters not marble, the reply of “Yes, but don’t touch” was a bit of a surprise, even though I wasn’t going to touch. In fact every thing was labeled “Do not touch” Better if you walk round here with your camera in its bag and your hands firmly superglued inside your pockets!
As the house itself is on several levels, disabled access is somewhat difficult although the gardens wouldn’t be much of a problem for wheel chair users. The National Trust do have a bus which can be used by the elderly and disabled to transfer you from the Car park to the Castle as the path from the car park is quite steep and some might find this hard going.
Parking at Chirk is more than adequate and the building near the car park house the admission/ticket room, the toilets and an ice cream/snack shop of which there are tables and chairs outside.
I did enjoy Chirk Castle but only because of the gardens and I’d have been sorely disappointed if I’d paid over £8.00 to get inside.