“ Address: Chirk / LL14 5AF / Wales „
Chirk Castle is run by the national trust. It's a wonderful castle that was used as a family home for 400 years. The building itself is very old; completed in 1310.
The inside of the property is very grand and has been really well maintained. They have to control the light levels to preserve the materials but it isn't anywhere near as dark as nearby Erddig House. You can wander round on your own or opt for a guided tour.
It also has a lovely garden and parkland for nature walks.
There's lots of fun things for kids, toy trackers to play on, a playground, a den building area, suits of armour to try on as well as animals to see in the grounds plus regular special events.
Unfortunately unlike most other national trust properties, it doesn't have a restaurant although it does have a tea shop and a kiosk for snacks. Erdigg House (also National Trust owned) is not far away and whilst the property isn't as great as Chirk Castle, it does have a good restaurant if you're after a full meal - obviously this is best for NT members whereby it's free entrance anyway. Entrance to Chirk Castle is £9 for adults but i'd highly recommend membership, it's best value if you join online rather than at the property; you can visit properties immediately because they e mail a temporary membership pass.
==Overview & Cost==
Chirk castle is one of the properties restored by the National Trust, therefore members can get in for free. Otherwise it costs £10 for adults (including donation & gift aid). If you want to pay the standard price of £9 you have to specifically ask to pay that which I personally don't agree with. We spent almost three hours at the castle so I thought it was quite reasonable in terms of cost compared to the amount of time you could spend there. The £10 entrance fee enables you to see the castle and the grounds. You can go into the gardens for £6 so overall I recommend paying the full price to see everything,
==What to see==
There is the main part of the castle which was previously a family home. It was one of the more unusual castles I have visited as they tend to focus a lot of battles and history and royal families. This was fascinating as for the most part of the last 500 years it has been a family home. The interior is decorated from different periods and some parts are unfurnished. This part winded me in parts of Buckingham Palace which I visited last year. My main complaint here is that it was £5.50 for a guide book, the alternative was laminated plastic sheets which gave a bit of information about each room. The information is probably sufficient and I understand why there are no Information panels but I truly believe it would benefit from a short audio tour. We were in this part of the castle for around an hour.
There is also the tower which is part of the Castle, this has steep narrow staircases which are quite uneven. There is no furnished parts in this side so are less interesting than the main house. This area also houses the dungeons which is very very very steep nd dark and uneven, my husband ventured down, I decided not to bother. This part and the main house has areas where kids (and adults) can dress up in period costumes for free which looked like fun.
Within the castle are tea rooms. Two sandwiches, crips and a drink cost us just shy of £10. It was decent food but overpriced as is typical with these places. There are toilets in the castle and also down at the main entrance by the car park. At the car park there is a playground for kids, a farm shop, a gift shop and a second hand bookshop. There seemed to be ice cream carts about too but as it poured down all day they weren't open!
We spent a hour looking around the formal gardens which were stunning, truly secret gardens, hedges to walk through and gorgeous flowers. Don't miss the laundries which are sorted hidden in the gardens. There's also a woodland walk which we missed out but all in all we could have spent another hour there. I would have stayed all Darin the green but it was pouring down. One of the side gardens closest to the castle had chequers and jenga in giant versions...very cool!
This felt like a good value day out and I feel like we could have spent longer here particularly in better weather. That said t was a fairly good day out for wet weather nd well priced. An audio guide would improve this attraction.
==Things to note==
* you probably don't need to buy a guide book.
* there is a fairly steep walk up to the castle from the car park. For anyone who may struggle there is a courtesy minibus which would take about 2 minutes. We weren't told about the bus so found it a struggle in parts.
* although I'm not disabled I can't imagine this is the best area for disabled access. The tower is inaccessible, I didn't see a lift to the upper part of the house and the gardens were lawned or stoned rather than paved. Ring ahead to check about access or you may be disappointed.
This is a magnificent castle with fantastic views and it is one of the finest National Trust Properties in the area. It is 1 miles of the A5, 2 miles from Chirk village and approximately 6 miles from Llangollen.
For SAT NAV. users the postcode in LL14 5AF.
It is open from Wednesday to Sunday each week from February half term to the end of October, but also open on Tuesdays during July and August. The castle itself is open from 11.00am. but the garden and tea rooms open at 10.00am.Closing times vary from 4pm to 5pm depending on the time of year. It is also open on Bank Holidays.
The car park is about 200 yards from the castle but there is a drop off point nearer the castle for the disabled.
Prices including a gift aid contribution for the castle and gardens are £9.20 per adult, £4.60 per child but there is a family ticket for £23.
Baby changing and feeding facilities are available. Front carrying baby slings and hip carrying infant seats are on loan, as pushchairs are not allowed in the property .
Toilets are in reception and the courtyard.
Dogs are only allowed in the car park and on the estate walks and must be kept on a lead.
There is wheelchair access to the ground floor, but there are steps at the entrance and the shop. There is access to the first floor but only one wheelchair user at a time is permitted.
As with all National Trust properties there is the usual shop and tea rooms at the castle. There is also a Home Farm Visitor Centre. The farm shop sells local and estate produce (although a bit pricey). There are also plant sales and a second hand bookshop.
There is only one guided tour from 11 am - noon.
On arrival at the castle I could not fail to be impressed by the size and splendour of the castle gates. I later found out that these were made by Robert and John Davies, brothers of Croesfoel Forge in 1719 and that they were paid 2 shillings a day ( equivalent of about 10p today). The gates display the Myddleton coat-of-arms which depicts a red hand, 3 wolves heads and an eagles head. The red hand is said to have originated from a dispute over the inheritance of the property. Where it was decided that two youths would run a race and the first one to touch the gates would inherit. However, when the first youth outstretched his arm to reach out for the gate he was deprived of victory by a supporter of his adversary who drew his sword and cut off the youth's hand. There are other versions to this story but I won't go into them now.
The castle is steeped in history and is a fantastic example of a medieval fortress completed in 1310 during the reign of Edward 1 by Roger Mortimer. It is in a stunning location with views over nine counties. The Adam Tower and the Dungeon are just as they were 700 years ago and I was amazed at how thick the walls are. To think of the construction and work that went into the construction without any modern technology or equipment is astonishing. There is also, an example of two "murder holes" - where material would be poured down on anyone trying to invade the property.
The castle featured in the War of the Roses and in 1563 Elizabeth 1 gave it to Robert Dudley who reorganised the living accommodation and then the castle was sold to Sir Thomas Myddleton (who was founder of the East India Company who invested in the expeditions of Drake, Raleigh and Hawlins).Sir Thomas Myddleton paid £5000 in 1595 for the castle and his descendents still live in part of the castle.
Other features include the Servants' Hall, the 17th century Long Gallery and the State Apartments, where there is a display of lavish furnishings, tapastries and elaborate plasterwork. From the windows there is stunning views over the surrounding countryside.
Having walked round the castle we then went into the gardens and looked at the various trees and shrubs in a very neat and well trimmed area. There is also a rock garden and other features involved the thatched Hawk House and Chapel where I believe weddings can be arranged.
We then went for something to eat in the Tea Shop, where there was a good selection of food on offer, we settled for the baguettes which were filled to the brim and a pot of tea. There were many tempting mouth watering cakes on display but we were both full after the baguettes so didn't try any - next time maybe.
We then went on the 11/4 mile circular walk through the woodlands which were originally the medieval hunting park. It was a beautiful day and the trees offered some welcomed shelter from the sun.
Outside there is also a children's play area, a giant chess game on the lawn and some stocks that they can try out. There is also a family room where you can try on various period costumes.
I thoroughly enjoyed my visit and will definitely go again. There is plenty to see and do and you get a real feel of history. Well worth a visit.
For more information contact 0691 777701.
Chirk Castle is a 700 year old marcher fortress.