Battle to save crumbling mansion dubbed the 'Welsh Versailles'
1st March 2021

Battle to save crumbling mansion with over 200 rooms dubbed the ‘Welsh Versailles’ that was once visited by Queen Victoria but has sat empty for 20 years after hotel plans collapsed

  • Kinmel Hall was bought for £1.45 million in 2011 in attempt to turn it into a hotel
  • However, that fell through and campaigners say the mansion has been left to rot
  • The historic sprawling mansion was dubbed the ‘Welsh Versailles’ for its design 

Campaigners are battling to save a crumbling mansion with over 200 rooms dubbed the ‘Welsh Versailles’ that was once visited by Queen Victoria. 

Kinmel Hall, a 500ft long sprawling estate near Abergele, in Conwy, North Wales, set in 18 acres of walled gardens, has been empty for 20 years after hotel plans fell through.

It was dubbed the Welsh Versailles due to its chateau style exterior with rows of tall windows. 

The property was bought for £1.45 million in 2011 by Acer Properties Limited – a firm registered in the British Virgin Islands.

But plans to transform it into a hotel never materialised and campaigners say the Grade I-listed mansion has been ‘left to rot.’  

Kinmel Hall – set in 18 acres of walled gardens and boasting over 200 rooms once visited by Queen Victoria – has been crumbling for two decades 

It was dubbed the Welsh Versailles due to its chateau style exterior with rows of tall windows

The 500ft long sprawling estate near Abergele, in Conwy, North Wales, has been empty for 20 years after hotel plans fell through

They are now calling for action to carry out works and fear it only has five years before it is beyond repair.

Kinmel Hall the ‘Welsh Versailles’ once visited by Queen Victoria  

Kinmel Hall was first owned by the Reverend Edward Hughes in 1786.

The present chateau style house, the third on the site, was built for the Hughes copper mining family, designed by W. E. Nesfield in the 1870s. 

Nesfield also designed a lodge at Regent’s Park, another at Kew Gardens as well as gates to the gardens

Kinmel Hall was last used as a private home in 1929, after which it was converted to a ‘rheuma spa’, a health centre for the treatment of people with rheumatism.

The spa remained in place until the outbreak of World War II, when the hall was taken over as a hospital.

After the war, it became Clarendon School for Girls until it was heavily damaged by fire in 1975.

It was then restored by businessman Eddie Vince and used as a Christian conference centre until the house was sold at auction in 2001.

However, a proposed redevelopment by Derbyshire Investments failed to materialise.

After passing through several owners, Acer Properties Ltd BVI bought the mansion for £1.45m in 2011. 

The company intended to develop the property into a hotel, but these plans never materialised, and the property lies derelict. 

The mansion was identified by the Victorian Society as one of the top ten at-risk Victorian and Edwardian buildings in 2015.  

Rosie Burton, of the Friends of Kinmel Hall group, said: ‘Action should be taken to save the building as once you have lost the historic fabric you’ve lost it. You can recreate it but that is not the same.

‘This is such a fascinating building and rare survival of that type of building in Wales. The gardens used to be spectacular too.

‘It is always better to deal with these things as soon as possible.’

The group have teamed up with Save Britain’s Heritage to urge Conwy County Borough Council to step in and take action. 

Rosie said: ‘We are asking the council to proceed with an Urgent Works Notice, which will at least protect the hall from any further damage and make it secure, and proceed with a compulsory purchase.

‘I understand there are a number of potential purchasers so the council would not be at much risk of funding repairs to the damage as they could do a ‘back-to-back’ agreement, which means they compulsorily purchase it and sell it on the same day.’

Conwy County Borough Council say the owners do have plans to work on Kinmel Hall.

A council spokesman said: ‘We are in regular discussions with the owners and they are in the process of making arrangements to carry out repairs.

‘The owners are taking positive steps and are in the process of making arrangements to carry out repairs to the property.

‘And although the matter is under review, we do not consider that enforcement action is necessary at the present time.’

Kinmel Hall was last used as a private home in 1929, after which it was converted to a ‘rheuma spa’, a health centre for the treatment of people with rheumatism.

The spa remained in place until the outbreak of World War II, when the hall was taken over as a hospital.

After the war, it became Clarendon School for Girls until it was heavily damaged by fire in 1975.

It was then restored by businessman Eddie Vince and used as a Christian conference centre until the house was sold at auction in 2001. 

Campaigners are now calling for action to carry out works and fear it only has five years before it is beyond repair

The mansion was identified by the Victorian Society as one of the top ten at-risk Victorian and Edwardian buildings in 2015

However, a proposed redevelopment by Derbyshire Investments failed to materialise.

After passing through several owners, Acer Properties Ltd BVI bought the mansion for £1.45m in 2011. 

The company intended to develop the property into a hotel, but these plans never materialised, and the property lies derelict. 

The mansion was identified by the Victorian Society as one of the top ten at-risk Victorian and Edwardian buildings in 2015.  

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