The best views of the house are from across the Menai Strait when it can be seen surrounded by grass and woodland. Close too, it is rather an uninspiring building, especially seen from the back, which is the way it is approached by visitors.
It is a long walk from the Visitor Centre past the cricket pitch and down a grassy bank. Husband was muttering “This had better be worth it”. Unfortunately it wasn’t. We found the inside as uninspiring as the outside. Room stewards seemed distant and made little effort to engage visitors, which is unusual for the National Trust. There weren’t very many rooms and in many there wasn’t a lot to see. Information sheets in the rooms were high in rhetoric, but contained little information. The Whistler painting is impressive but I am afraid didn’t do much for me. I have written a separate review covering details of the inside of the house.
The house was the country seat of the Marquesses of Anglesey. There has been a house here since the C14th and the great hall dates from that time. It was extended and altered in the C18th to the building seen today. At the end of the C19th, the 5th Marquess inherited, turned the chapel into a theatre and put on lavish entertainments. The 6th Marquess had to sell off most of the contents to pay off debts left by the 5th Marquess. He removed the crenelations from the roof, disposed of the theatre and knocked three servants rooms into one to make a dining room.
The house is displayed as it might have been in the 1930s when the 6th Marquess and his family lived here. Rex Whistler was a friend of the family and painted the huge mural in the dining room, falling in love with Lady Caroline, the eldest daughter.
There is disabled parking in the car park by the Visitor Centre, with ticket office, disabled toilets, restaurant and small shop. It is a long walk to the house. A shuttle service is provided, although didn’t seem to be running the day we visited. There is disabled access to the ground floor of the house only but there is a picture book of the rooms on the first floor. There is no reduction for disabled visitors, although a carer is admitted free.
The house was quite busy when we visited, making photography difficult. No photography is allowed in the Whistler Exhibition or in the dining room with the Whistler painting. We were very disappointed by the house and felt it was expensive at £9.35 (extra if you gift aid), compared with £10.35 for nearby “Penrhyn Castle”:http://www.silvertraveladvisor.com/travel-product/attraction-historic-house-or-stately-home/139317 .
On a nice sunny day, the gardens are pleasant, especially if you follow the marine walk past the terrace garden, with its views across the Menai Strait. Again they are expensive at £7.35.
We were very disappointed and won’t be revisiting.