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History of Rhianfa
A venue rich in romance and history
Château Rhianfa was built in 1849 for Sir John Hay Williams, a descendent of Sir William Williams who created the much larger Bodelwyddan Castle in Denbighshire. Together with his wife Lady Sarah Hay Williams he spent ten years creating a magnificently lavish mansion surrounded by enchanting gardens.
Originally, Château Rhianfa was built as a dower house for Lady Sarah and was intended to provide both Lady Sarah and the couple's two daughters with a comfortable residence in the event of Sir John's death. Having no male heir of his own, Sir John's title, along with his many properties and ancestral estate at Bodelwyddan, were to be inherited by his younger brother, Hugh Williams.
The Williams drew inspiration for the design of the house from their travels in the Loire region of France, and were particularly enamoured with the architectural style favoured in this region during the reign of Francois I (1515-1547). Five castles specifically caught their attention; Blois, Chambord, Amboise, Chenonceau and Chaumont.
Lady Sarah was a talented artist and had been trained to draw by Peter de Wint, the eminent English water colourist and landscape artist whose works now appear in the National Gallery and Tate Gallery, London. Lady Sarah made many sketches of the Loire Valley castles and these served as the primary influence for the external architecture of the house.
Architect Charles Reed Esq., of Liverpool was given this grand task of transforming these sketches into reality. He was instructed to strictly conform to the original drawings and was only allowed to design the exterior structure. These plans were passed to builder John Rogers of Beaumaris. Once the exterior of the house was completed Reed was dismissed and Sir John and Lady Sarah took charge of creating the interiors.
Lady Sarah was obviously a perfectionist and this shows in the wealth of decorative detail. Even the choice of name received this same level of attention. "Rhianfa" (which means ladies habitat or abode in Wesh) was proposed by the Rev. Williams Hicks Owen, senior Vicar of St. Asaph Cathedral. However, before this name was fully adopted, it was submitted to several distinguished Welsh Scholars who entirely approved it.
In 1859 Sir John died leaving Lady Sarah to live in the house until her own death in 1876. At this point Lady Margaret, one of their two daughters, inherited the property. Soon after this her husband, Sir Edmund, inherited his family estate of Claydon in Buckinghamshire and the couple moved away from Anglesey. Lady Margaret nevertheless continued to maintain her relationship with the Anglesey and North Wales communities. After the death of her husband in 1910, Lady Margaret moved back to Château Rhianfa permanently. In 1922 the house was advertised for sale, the reasons for which still remain unknown, but a sale never materialised and Lady Margaret remained in the house until her own death in 1930.
Little is known about what happened to the property following Lady Margaret’s death but in 1955 the house was given to her grandson, Dr Andrew Verney and his wife as a wedding present. Due to work commitments in London the couple sold the house in 1957. It was converted into apartments and much of the land sold off, leaving only 3 of the 12 acres in the possession of the estate.
Despite the many changes over time Château Rhianfa has retained much of its remarkable character. The sensitive restoration by AmaZing Venues has restored the property to its original splendour with all the quirky charm intact.
What’s more, with 22 luxuriously appointed bedrooms your crew and cast can be comfortably accommodated on site. Bold colour combinations, rich fabrics and dramatic retro furnishings strike a startlingly glamorous note that’s very a la mode. The Château offers all of this plus a beautiful venue with great original architecture and contemporary French and British inspired furnishings.
The Château also offers 3 wonderful cottages with great filming potential. The Coach House features chic interiors, striking décor and a huge window that provides astonishing sea views of the Menai Strait. The Gate Lodge is a charming little cottage, with an arched entranceway, miniature turrets and a traditional log fireplace which wouldn’t look out of place in a fairy tale. The Stable Lodge has been recently refurbished to create a sumptuously stylish penthouse which includes a slate finished shower room and a balcony with incredible views of the Menai Strait.
The property offers 8 different function room options, many of which take you straight back to the high Victorian Era. The Dining Room is beautiful period room with a remarkable ornate ceiling, warm wainscoting paneling and lovely arched windows looking out over the dramatic scenery towards Snowdonia. The Drawing Room is a cosy room, popular for drink receptions, and offering breathtaking views over the Menai Straits and Snowdonia. The Banqueting Hall is our largest function space, offering beautiful oak paneling, original fireplaces, ornate vaulted ceiling and great views of the gardens and down to the beach.
The Wine Caves offer a unique filming opportunity. These ancient vaults, deep in the earth, provide the perfect environment in which to store and enjoy fine wines and have an incredible atmosphere.
With its private beach, mountain views and fairy tale charm, Château Rhainfa offers something extra special and unique to any filming or photography event.
Learn more: http://www.amazingvenues.co.uk/ChateauRhianfa
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