History and High Jinks

The 19th century opulence that was the hallmark of life at historic Gyrn Castle, at Llanasa, near Holywell, Flintshire, during the first half of the Bates shipping family’s 150-year tenure, has all but disappeared following the dispersal of the house contents by Christie’s on July 17 and 18. Now it remains for Strutt & Parker (01244 220500) and Jones Peckover (01745 812127) to find a buyer for the imposing, Grade II-listed, late-Georgian castle and its 367-acre estate overlooking the Dee Estuary and a resurgent Merseyside. A guide price of £3.5 million for the estate as a whole, with Gyrn Castle and its surrounding 103 acres of park, woods and farmland on offer at £2.5m.

Like so many grand houses, Gyrn Castle has had its shares of ups and downs. Once part of the estates of the Mostyns of Cilcain, Gyrn was sold in 1817 to John Douglas, a wealthy local cotton manufacturer, who spent the next seven years building the present castellated mansion on the site of an earlier house. The Douglas family later fell on hard times, and, in 1856, Gyrn was bought by Sir Edward Bates, a Liverpool ship owner and politician, who accumulated enormous wealth during a career spanning most of Queen Victoria’s reign.

In 1957, Sir Geoffrey Bates, the fifth baronet, and the holder of an MC for bravery in World War II, inherited a Gyrn Castle estate much reduced by death duties, and moved there with his family. For 50 years until his death in February 2005, Sir Geoffrey worked tirelessly to develop the farming, shooting and fishing at Gyrn.

He also brought fun and laughter to Gyrn Castle, hosting numerous charity events and the annual Flint and Denbigh hunt ball in the spectacular, 29ft-high, picture gallery. In addition, the castle has three more grand reception rooms on the ground floor; six bedrooms, five bathrooms and a sitting room on the first floor; and a self-contained staff flat, and six further bedrooms on the second floor.