Time was way too short. An afternoon was not enough, but it would have to do....for now. Wales was breathtaking. History was everywhere we looked, and the town of Conwy was our first exposure. We had arrived in Wales from London midway through a blustery day this last May and checked into our Hotel. After walking the grounds of Bodysgallen Hall, we ventured out to Conwy to see the Castle....one of many built by Edward I....(also known as Edward Longshanks....but that is another very long story. )
Suffice it to say that Edward was determined to hold sway over Wales after his invasion in 1282. To fortify his positions, he built a string of castles to help protect his colonization efforts. UNESCO considers this string of castles to be " the finest example of 13th and 14th century military architecture in Europe."
Conwy Castle and the walled town have withstood the tests of time long enough for us the scale the walls and imagine what it much have been like at the beginning.....
Tim has family in Wales in a town called Beaumaris on Angelesy Island. This is why we came to Wales and why we began our month long European expedition in England. London was out first stop (I will do my best to get those photos out to you soon!) and we spent a few days there taking in all of the sights and eating our way through town. Then it was off to Wales! When we first started to plan this trip, we thought it might take too much travel time to get to Wales, but with the high speed train, it only took 3 hours to get here.
I cannot tell you how happy I am we took the time to visit Wales. Out of all of the places we visited through the Netherlands, Belgium, France and Italy, it is perhaps my favorite. Perhaps we were lucky with the time of year and the weather, but I cannot describe to you just how beautiful it was. I hope the photos can do the slightest bit of justice.
Perhaps it was the time of year....a little early for "the "season"....or maybe Wales is off the beaten track from the larger tourist attraction cities of Europe. Whatever the reason, we found Wales in general to be wonderfully "far from the madding crowd". It was part of what we enjoyed so much and what made this place so easy to love. Not once did I find myself dodging a waving selfie stick, waiting in any sort of queue, or jostling my way through a crowd to see a view or famous piece of art. It was inspiring, invigorating, allowing for imagination to expand, and yet peaceful, nostalgic with a bit of magic tossed in.
So....on with a bit more of Conwy Castle......
Tim has always been one to scale the highest point possible wherever we go. The panoramic views are his "thing". I am always game too, so you will be seeing many photos in the coming days from the "highest points" in every town we visited. In Conwy, it is from the tops of the walls surrounding the town.....
The town walls stretch from the castle, all the way around the town, about.81 miles in all. They were built around the same time as the castle....1283-1287.
Once back down to earth, we walked through the streets of Conwy. The town is beautiful, holding all of the charm and history one would expect. Fish and Chips, Ice Cream and local pubs were very easy to find, and we took full advantage....
We stopped on this street to have some Ice Cream and were heading outside again, cones in hand, when we heard a scream.....a couple rushed by us back into the ice cream shop with alarmed faces and then broke into laughter as they warned up not to go outside! There seems to be a renegade seagull at large that had swooped down and grabbed the girl's ice cream cone out of her hands! We decided to eat ours inside. There was an older couple in the shop who decided to brave the dive bomber regardless. After we were finished, we passed the couple sitting on a bench just waiting for the kamikaze gull to try and take their ice cream. The gentleman was ready with his camera to catch the offender in action.....but we did not stay much longer so did not catch a second attempt.
We pressed onward to see what we could see, and found Plas Mawr....
Plas Mawr, or "Great Hall", is considered the "finest surviving town house of the Elizabethan era to be found anywhere in Britain". It was built by Robert Wynn, a member of the local gentry and a wealthy merchant. I just discovered that the hotel where we stayed, Bodysgallen Hall was also a Wynn property built by Robert Wynn's father, John. (Next time, I will tell you about Gwydir Castle, another Wynn property we visited. I did not know until today that all three properties were owned by the same family. Apparently, they were quite wealthy and influential!)
By the 20th century, the house had fallen into disrepair, but its architectural significance was quite valuable. It underwent a huge restoration in later 1990's with the plaster work, which was largely intact, repaired and repainted to resemble the original appearance of the 1600's. Much of the furniture is original or was replicated due to the very detailed inventory of household contents that existed from the original house.
The original kitchen
Fireplace in Robert Wynn's bedchamber
The bedchamber of Robert Wynn
Original paneling and plasterwork showing many of the symbols, badges and heraldry of the Elizabethan era.
The Great Chamber
The servants quarters in the floors above the main living quarters.
The attic shows the arched braced collar trusses with "double pegging"
Views of Conwy Castle from the windows of Plas Mawr
Views from Plas Mawr
From the top of the house back down to the gardens
The gardens were replanted and restored to what they may have been in Elizabethan England. They are thought to have been planned to resemble those of Bodysgallen Hall.
It was time to move on.....we had dinner plans back at Bodysgallen Hall and had to be going.......
Only to return another day......