Doctor, 33, buys fairytale castle to save it from runi

Doctor, 33, who fell under spell of fairytale castle as a child buys it 20 years later to save it from ruin

  • Dr Mark Baker used to play around the six miles of walls at Gwrych Castle in Wales as a schoolboy
  • But he saw the castle fall into ruins – and aged just 11 he set up a trust in a bid to save building in Conwy
  • Two decades on he discovered it was due to go to auction for £600,000 – and feared he could miss out
  • But just one day before the sale, the trust bought the castle thanks to National Heritage Memorial Fund

A doctor enchanted by a fairytale castle as a child has bought it to save it from falling into ruin. 

Mark Baker, 33, fell under the spell of Gwrych Castle in Conwy, North Wales, after playing around its six miles of walls as a schoolboy. But he saw it fall into ruins – and aged just 11 he set up a trust in a bid to save the castle.

Two decades on he discovered it was due to go to auction for £600,000 – and feared he could miss out. But just one day before the sale, the trust bought the castle thanks to funding from the National Heritage Memorial Fund.

Gwrych Castle in North Wales was constructed between 1812 and 1822 and sits within 160 acres of picturesque grounds


Mark Baker (left) fell under the spell of Gwrych Castle as a boy, but became saddened as it fell into a state of disrepair (right)

A gradual decline began when Gwrych Castle finally left the Bamford-Hesketh family’s hands in 1946

Dr Baker saw the Welsh castle fall into ruins – and aged just 11 he set up a trust in a bid to save the building

As a boy, Dr Baker started the Gwrych Castle Preservation Trust registered charity and fundraised to restore the castle

The castle was built by Lloyd Hesketh Bamford-Hesketh as a memorial to his mother’s ancestors, the Lloyds of Gwrych

The National Heritage Memorial Fund provided funding along with a grant from the Richard Broyd Charitable Trust

Dr Baker 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.’

As a boy, Dr Baker started the Gwrych Castle Preservation Trust registered charity and fundraised to restore the castle. He also wrote a book called the Rise and Fall of Gwrych Castle aged just 14.

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Dr Baker, who met Tony Blair and Prince Charles after starting a campaign to save it,said: ‘I find it amazing that 20 years of campaigning has helped do this. 

‘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 constructed 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.

Dr Baker fell under the spell of Gwrych Castle in Conwy after playing around its six miles of walls as a schoolboy

Dr Baker said that in another ten years he hopes ‘the whole building will be fully restored and back to its former glory’

The Gwrych Castle Preservation Trust registered charity was set up when Dr Baker was a mere 11 years old

Dr Baker is aiming to get the building open to the public within the next decade following a restoration project

Dr Baker wrote a book called the Rise and Fall of Gwrych Castle aged just 14 as he became fascinated by the building

Dr Baker said that as a child, he would pass the castle in North Wales every day to and from school

Dr Baker said that two decades after setting up the trust, he is now in a position to buy the castle and realise his early vision


Dr Baker met Tony Blair and Prince Charles after starting a campaign to save the picturesque castle in North Wales

The castle and Dr Baker’s story have been featured on the BBC programme Great British Railway Journeys

Dr Baker gave a ‘huge vote of thanks’ to the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Richard Broyd Charitable Trust

In 1925 the Earl of Dundonald bought the castle for £78,000 – and during the Second World War it housed Jewish refugees

Winifred Bamford-Hesketh, later Countess of Dundonald, inherited it in 1894. She died in 1924 and her will declared Gwrych should be bequeathed to King George V so the Royal Family had a permanent base in Wales.

But this was declined and it was given to St John of Jerusalem. Then, in 1925 the Earl of Dundonald, Winifred’s husband, bought back the castle for £78,000 and during the Second World War it housed Jewish refugees.

A gradual decline began when Gwrych Castle finally left the family’s hands in 1946. The National Heritage Memorial Fund provided funding of £600,000 along with a major grant from the Richard Broyd Charitable Trust.

Dr Baker, who has been featured on the BBC’s Great British Railway Journeys, 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.’

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