Doctor Enchanted By Fairytale Castle As A Child Buys It 20 Years Later

Everyone remembers somewhere they hung out as a kid, whether a favourite park or a cafe where you'd all lounge about all day, pretending to be the cast of Friends.

Well, it seems that this doctor had a retreat of his own - as a schoolboy, he would play around this fairytale castle's six-mile walls and ultimately fell under its spell.

In the years that followed, Dr Mark Baker saw the building fall to ruins and aged just 11 he set up a trust in a bid to save Gwrych castle in Angele, North Wales.

Two decades on, 33-year-old Mark discovered that it was due to go to auction for £600,000 ($803,928) - fearing he could miss out, he had to act fast.

One day before the sale, the trust bought the castle thanks to funding from the National Heritage Memorial Fund.

Mark said: "As a child, I would pass the castle every day to and from school, and at the age of 11 founded the castle trust.

"Now, 21 years later, we are in a position to purchase and realise that vision."

Credit: Wales News Service
Credit: Wales News Service

He also wrote a book called Ride and Fall of Gwrych Castle, Abergele, North Wales aged just 14. He was busy that's for sure.

Having registered the Gwrych Castle Preservation Trust as a charity as a youth, Mark set about raising funds to restore the castle.

The doctor, who met Tony Blair and Prince Charles after starting the campaign, said: "I find it amazing that 20 years of campaigning has helped do this.

Credit: Wales News Service
Credit: Wales News Service

"In another ten years we would hope that the whole building will be fully restored and back to its former glory and will be completely open to the public."

The castle was built between 1812 and 1822 and sits within 160 acres of picturesque grounds.

It was built by Lloyd Hesketh Bamford-Hesketh as a memorial to his mother's ancestors, the Lloyds of Gwrych.

Winifred Bamford-Hesketh inherited it in 1894 but she died in 1924 - her will declared Gwrych should be handed down to King George V so the Royal Family would have a permanent base in Wales.

Credit: Wales News Service
Credit: Wales News Service

This request was declined and it was given to St John of Jerusalem.

In 1925 the Earl of Dundonald, Winifred's husband, bought back the castle for £78,000 ($104,518) and during World War II, Gwrych housed Jewish refugees.

A gradual decline began when Gwrych Castle finally left the family's hands in 1946.

Credit: Wales News Service
Credit: Wales News Service

However, the National Heritage Memorial Fund provided a grant of £600,000 along with a major grant from the Richard Broyd Charitable Trust, which has helped the campaign no end.

Mark added: "A huge vote of thanks must go to the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Richard Broyd Charitable Trust for believing in our vision."

Best of luck, Mark. Sounds like it's going to be a tricky ride, but fair play to him for following his dream.

Featured Image Credit: Wales News Service

Rebecca Shepherd

Rebecca Shepherd is a Journalist at LADbible. She graduated from the University of Central Lancashire with a First Class BA in Journalism. Becky previously worked as Chief Reporter at Cavendish Press, supplying news and feature stories to national newspapers and women's magazines.

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