Study tours

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Thursday Afternoon

Option 1 - Conserving complex historic sites: Bodnant Gardens & Gwydir Castle

Bodnant Gardens

Bodnant1 William Greenwood, Bodnant Property Manager and David Watkins from Brock Carmichael Architects will lead a study tour of the recent projects including the new pedestrian underpass , Visitor Reception Building and the conservation repairs to ‘the Poem’ are included. Balancing conservation with access, whilst retaining the sense of place have been key to the approach.

Bodnant Garden is one of the most beautiful gardens in the UK, spanning some 80 acres and is situated above the River Conwy on ground sloping towards the west and looking across the valley towards the Snowdonia range.

The Garden has two parts. The upper garden around Bodnant Hall consists of the terraced gardens and informal lawns shaded by trees. The lower portion, known as the "Dell" is formed by the valley of the River Hiraethlyn and contains the Wild garden.

Gwydir CastleBodnant2 A guided tour of Gwydir Castle by the current owner Peter Welford, architectural historic who has led on the restoration of the building over the last 16 years, will examine the issues faced in dealing with such a complex and sensitive site.

Gwydir Castle is situated in the beautiful Conwy Valley and is set within a Grade 1 listed, 10-acre garden. Built by the illustrious Wynn family c1500, Gwydir is a fine example of a Tudor courtyard house, incorporating re-used medieval material from the dissolved Abbey of Maenan. Further additions date from c1600 and c1826. The important 1640s panelled Dining Room has now been reinstated, following its repatriation from the New York Metropolitan Museum and reopened by HRH Prince Charles.

Following the Wars of the Roses, the castle was rebuilt around 1490 by Meredith ap Ieuan ap Robert, founder of the Wynn dynasty and a leading regional supporter of King Henry VII. Originally a fortified manor house, Gwydir acquired additions in the 1540s (incorporating reused gothic building material from nearby Maenan Abbey), and was given a fine Elizabethan porch and gardens in the 1590s. Further additions were made c.1828 to designs by Sir Charles Barry, architect of the Houses of Parliament.

In the 1570s Gwydir was the home of Katherine of Berain, cousin of Queen Elizabeth I and the castleBodnant3 has associations with the Babington Plot (1586) and the Gunpowder Plot (1605). Other historical figures linked with the castle include Lord Leicester (Queen Elizabeth's favourite) Inigo Jones, 'the Father of English Palladianism', Bishop Morgan, translator of the first Welsh Bible and Archbishop John Williams, Lord Keeper under Charles I.

Bodnant Gardens:  
Gwydir Castle: 

Pevsner(Clwyd edition)
Bodnant Gardens Pg 107
Gwydir Castle Pg 374
Option 2 - Penmaenmawr THI & The Close, Llanfairechan
Penmaenmawr THI & The Close, Llanfairechan
Penmaenmawr TH!
The Close
The architect Herbert Luck North (1871-1941) was educated at Uppingham and Jesus College, Cambridge. He was articled in London and worked as an assistant to Sir Edwin Lutyens before forming a consortium of architects in London. At the turn of the century he returned to north Wales and established a practice in Llanfairfechan, developed a distinctive Arts & Crafts inspired practice.

His surviving buildings are highly attractive and much loved across North Wales and his garden village ‘The Close’ at Llanfairfechan is probably Wales’ finest contribution to the Arts & Crafts movement. His interest in the qualities of local buildings influenced his ideas and made him one Penmaenmawr THIof the first architects to try to create a distinctive architecture for Wales.

Join local conservation Architect, Adam Voelcker, for a short presentation on the life and works of North at the Church Institute and a guided walk of ‘The Close’ examining the continuing conservation challenges, culminating with a visit to North’s home Wern Isaf, still occupied by his granddaughter.

Penmaenmawr Townscape Heritage Initiative

Conwy County Borough Council managed the THI focussed on the town centre between 2004 and 2009. The scheme transformed 50 properties with £2.7m of grant funding from a partnership of the Heritage Lottery Fund, Cadw, the Welsh Assembly Government and the Council, leading to £4m of investment.

The main objectives of the Penmaenmawr THI were to improve the quality of the town centre’s overall building stock, enhance local business confidence, bring vacant floorspace back into use, add to the regeneration of the town as well as restoring, maintaining and reinstating the architectural and historical interest of buildings within the town centre conservation area.

In terms of headline outcomes:-
• eighteen vacant retail units in the town centre were brought back into occupation.
• over 12,000 square metres of floorspace was improved or brought into productive re-use;
• 27 jobs were safeguarded within businesses benefiting from grant support;
• 68 new jobs were created in new and existing businesses;
• a successful working relationship was forged with the council’s housing department where the THI worked in tandem with the housing department’s group repair scheme.
• all four of the identified critical buildings were renovated under the initiative, a clear measure of the THI’s success.

Pevsner(Gwynedd (2009) edition)
Penmaenmawr THI Pg 486
The Close Pg 436
Option 3 - The challenge of reconciling tourism - Conwy Castle & Towns Walls World Heritage Site
Conwy Castle & Towns Walls World Heritage Site Conwy town walls

Visit one of Wales’ most impressive Castles and see how conservation is reconciled with tourism at a World Heritage Site. Cadw professionals will be leading the study tour, including an inspection of recently completed conservation work to the Town Walls.

Built for King Edward I between 1283-87 to Master James of St George's design, Conwy remains one of the most outstanding achievements of medieval military architecture. The distinctive elongated shape, with its two barbicans, eight massive towers and great bow-shaped hall, was perhaps determined by the narrow rocky outcrop on which the castle stands. The 3/4m (1.2km) of town walls is one of the finest and most complete sets in Europe, with twenty-one towers and three gateways and enclose the town


Pevsner(Gwynedd (2009) edition)
Conwy Castle & Town Walls Pg 322

Conwy Castle


Saturday morning

Option 1 - New owners, new uses - transforming historic buildings: Lady Foresters & St George's
Lady Foresters

Meet the Architect and Contractor to view the outcome of works and the new extension as a success of close working between the client, agents and the Council. Most recently, St Dunstan’s the charity for blind and visually impaired service people, have purchased the property, repairing it and extended the building.

Lady Foresters Convalescent Home isa Grade ll Listed building was a purpose built medical centre dating to 1902. The building retains the majority of its original layout and features including two teak panelled spiral staircases and an ornate pitch pine panelled dining hall. The majority of the modifications to the standing building dated to between 1902 and 1912.


St George’s School

See how a derelict School can be transformed by the involvement of a BPT and returned to the local authority. Meet the Architect and client to discuss the process and sustainability of the building.

St. George’s old National school has been identified as one of the earliest buildings in Llandudno, having occupied the prominent Church Walks site since the Schoolmasters house and original School building were completed in 1846.

The project comprised the restoration of the Grade II Listed Old St. George’s National School, and its conversion for use by the County Borough Council. The project sought to transform the vacant derelict school building into a new Early Years Learning Centre housing a nursery, toy library, and resources facility, whilst addressing the need for modern ancillary facilities.

Despite proposals being drawn up for the possible demolition of the derelict school, it’s future was secured following the refurbishment and conversion project undertaken by Llandudno Seaside Buildings Preservation Trust and Conwy County Borough Council.



Lady Forrester’s:
St George’s School, Llandudno: 

Pevsner(Gwynedd (2009) edition)
Lady Forester’s Pg 413
St George’s Pg 415
Option 2 - Utilising & Specifying Welsh Slate: Penrhyn Quarry, Bethesda
Penrhyn Quarry, Bethesda

Get up close and personal on this study tour of Britain’s largest slate quarry.

The day will comprise two talks and a tour of the quarry following the process of extraction of block from the quarry face through to hand splitting and dressing to size. Participants will have a chance to make slates themselves.

The first talk will explain the history of the quarry and the development of manufacturing techniques which mirror the evolution of power systems from water through steam to electricity and hydraulic machinery.

The second talk by Terry Hughes will illustrate the great variety of slate formats and slating techniques and how to specify new slates to conserve traditional roofs.

By understanding the huge scale of the Penrhyn Quarry, meeting the quarrymen that work it, and learning about correct detailing’ we hope that you as a professional or contractor will leave with the knowledge that by speaking to the right people you can easily specify, order and lay natural Welsh slate confidently knowing that you are using a material that will last.

The quarry was first developed in the 1770s by Richard Pennant, later Baron Penrhyn although it is likely that small-scale slate extraction on the site began considerably earlier. Much of this early working was for domestic use only as no large scale transport infrastructure was developed until Pennant's involvement.

At the end of the nineteenth century it was the world's largest slate quarry; the main pit is nearly 1 mile (1.6 km) long and 1,200 feet (370 metres) deep. Today. Penrhyn is still Britain's largest slate quarry.

Slates from this famous quarry are universally recognised as the best quality slate found anywhere in the world. Slates are exported across the world and have a lifespan measured in centuries, not decades, and are the benchmark against which all other roofing materials are measured.



Pevsner(Gwynedd (2009) edition)
Penrhyn Quarry Pg 265
Option 3 - Conwy Town Tour & Plas Mawr
Conwy Town Tour & Plas Mawr

Conwy Town Conwy Castle and the town walls were built, on the instruction of Edward I of England, between 1283 and 1289, as part of his conquest of the principality of Wales. Conwy was the original site of Aberconwy Abbey, founded by Llywelyn the Great. Edward and his troops took over the abbey site and moved the monks down the Conwy valley to a new site at Maenan. The parish church still retains some parts of the original abbey church in the east and west walls.

A study visit of the Town and key buildings will illustrate both recent and historic investments in transforming the town’s fortunes, since the opening of the A55 and the trunk road being passed under the Rover Conwy, rather than through the town. Experience the town’s and key medieval buildings such as the Garrison Church of St Mary’s, the C14th National Trust Merchant’s House, Aberconwy House and the smallest house in Britain, culminating in a guided tour of Plas Mawr.

Plas Mawr is possibly the best preserved Elizabethan town house in Great Britain. Built by Robert Wynn between 1576 and 1585, it dominates the town with its gatehouse, stepped gables and lookout tower. The interior with its elaborately decorated plaster ceilings and fine wooden screens, reflecting the wealth and influence of the Tudor gentry in Wales. See the extensive renovation wok undertaken by Cadw and understand the philosophy behind the approach.

Conwy Town


Conwy Town walking tour:
Plas Mawr:

Pevsner(Gwynedd (2009) edition)
Conwy Town Pg 317
Plas Mawr Pg 336