Denbighshire: A charity which runs one of Denbighshire’s top tourist attractions in the United Kingdom has put its 125-year lease up for sale.
The decision by Bodelwyddan Castle Trust comes after Denbighshire Council withdrew a £144,000 annual grant and announced plans to sell the site.
BCT, which runs the castle, museum and art gallery is selling the remaining 99 years of the lease to the highest bidder. The castle will close at a date yet to be confirmed in 2019.
The Trust wants to use the money it raises to continue its public education role and allow access to its collection of Welsh art by “linking to a charity with a similar ethos.”
It lost seven of its 13 staff as a result of the funding cut last year, putting an end to a loan of 130 paintings from the National Portrait Gallery.
Denbighshire council is selling the freehold which includes the castle, lawns and event area.
Set in 260 acres, the castle dates from before 1460, but was renovated in the 1830s by the Williams family, and is now also occupied by the Bourne Leisure-owned Warner hotel.
After its use by the Army in the First World War, the house was sold by the fifth Baronet and became a private girls’ school, Lowther College, from 1920 to 1982.
The council funding cut followed soon after the introduction of tours of replica trenches from the Great War and an exhibition “From Civilian to Combatant”, telling the story of local men and women who were involved and proved highly popular with visitors.
Chairwoman of the trust Dr Helen Papworth said: “In the three years that I have been a trustee, I have seen the impact of costs savings which have resulted in the removal of the National Portrait Gallery collection in February, 2017 with the loss of a significant number of employees.
“Despite the financial pressures, the remaining core of loyal staff and volunteers have created a range of exhibitions of Welsh art and, to complement the tours through replica trenches in the grounds, the World War One exhibition.
“The beautifully maintained parkland and woods have attracted many people who come to enjoy the different events, such as theatre and displays, or to observe the local wildlife in tranquil surrounds.
“We believe that the sale of the lease will enable our resources to be used for similar charitable purposes, providing visitors to North Wales, and local people, with continued access to the collection of Welsh artworks stored at the castle.”
She added that the sale of the lease will enable the trust to invest its assets in another charitable organisation, one with similar objectives, while offering the purchaser the opportunity to develop the property over a “substantial period of time”, possibly providing local employment and “a new potential resource within the region”.