4 reviews of Plas Mawr in English
Regarded by many as the best preserved Elizabethan town house in the UK, this historic gem is well worth a visit. It contains a wealth of decorative plasterwork and woodwork.
The house was built by Robert Wynn, a younger son of John Wynn of Gwydir Castle. He had served with the British Ambassador in Bruges, and travelled around the Continent. When he retired to Conwy, aged 50, he built himself a town house incorporating the latest features and styles, reflecting his prestige. It was built 1576-1585.
After his death, a dispute over his inheritance meant the house was eventually split into a lodging house, and also functioned as a school, and then the headquarters of the local antiquarian society, before being taken over and restored by Cadw (Welsh Historic Monuments).
This large building occupies a whole block of Conwy’s streets. The main frontage consists of an elaborate gatehouse, courtyard and then the main house, which has its own courtyard and garden. The exterior has been plastered and limewashed, as it would have been originally.
Inside, the rooms are a mixture of the ‘working’ rooms of the house – kitchen, storage rooms, servants’ quarters and so on, and the grander rooms intended for Wynn and his family. These have impressive fireplace mantels and panelling, and particularly large expanses of decorative plasterwork. In many places this is highly coloured, and includes decorative friezes of coats of arms, Tudor roses and other heraldic devices (and above all, Wynn’s initials, RW, which appear everywhere).
Another recurring motif is that of naked caryatids, carrying bowls of strawberries on their heads. They wear loincloths of leaves, and cover one breast, leaving the other bare. The plasterwork images are often touchingly naive and primitive, as local plasterers tried their best to reproduce unfamiliar images copied from pattern books.
The house also has some impressive furnishings, although these have been sourced separately and are not original. In the attic, one room is furnished as it would have been in the early 19th century, as the home of a lodger, a washer-woman.
There is a guided audio tour available, which is well worth using, although the Tudor jingle which precedes each section may get irritating after a while. There are also static presentations on aspects of Tudor and later life. Access for those with restricted mobility is limited, due to the presence of stairs and uneven floors.
There is also a shop at the entrance selling the usual cards, books and gift items.
The best £4.95 I have spent visiting a historic building in a longtime. A fine example of beautifully restaured building, with very good information on the house and the work involved. The house is quite big and there is a lot to read, see and learn. Recommended visit if you are interested in history and Elizabethan life.
Back when I was in the Scouts (a very long time ago) we had a challenge to have a picnic in an unusual place. We ended up in Plas Mawr because it’s reputed to be the most haunted building in Conwy. If I remember right there are supposed to be five ghosts 'living’ here. It’s recently appeared on the TV show 'Most Haunted’ although unfortunately it didn’t live up to expectations on the night. As a historic building it’s well worth a visit having been authentically restored but if you have an interest in the paranormal it’s a must. You never know what you might see or hear!
Whilst I have not visited Plas Mawr in recent years I have fond memories of this beautiful building from when I was a Child. Plas Mawr is said to be one of the finest surviving town houses of the Elizabethan era to be found anywhere in Britain, and you can see why. Its beautiful White Stonewash Walls form the centre peice of conwy’s High street, whilst the Interior is both tradtional and authentic to the era. A Beautiful place to waste away some spare time. I always used to feel it was slightly Haunted!!
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