Full Report for Listed Buildings

Summary Description of a Listed Buildings

Reference Number
Building Number
Date of Designation
Date of Amendment
Name of Property


Unitary Authority
Street Side
Located on an elevated platform site, within extensive parkland, approximately 3 miles SE of Abergele. Access now by driveway off Primrose Hill, St George Village.  


Broad Class
Religious, Ritual and Funerary  

The present building is at least the fifth on the site since the 13th century. The property was held by the Lloyd family from the C14-C16, followed by John Holland, Duke of Exeter. In the Civil War it was held by Col John Carter, twice knighted, first by Cromwell in 1657, and then by Charles II in 1660. It later came to Sir George Wynn, 1729-81 and David Roberts, 1781-86, both of whom had interests in the lead extraction industry in North Wales. Their now ruined house, Old Kinmel, was succeeded by one built by Samuel Wyatt in 1791 for Rev Edward Hughes, owner from 1786 and partner in the Parys Mine Company, Amlwch, for the exploitation of the world's richest copper lodes. This house was seriously damaged by fire in 1841 and rebuilt in 1842-3 by Thomas Hopper in a Greek Revival style, for William Lewis Hughes, 1st Lord Dinorben. The present house is a modified and reduced design by W E Nesfield, probably utilizing the old foundations, for Hugh Robert Hughes in 1870-1874, inheritor of the Parys mountain wealth and banking enterprises. William Eden Nesfield (1835-1888), son of the famous landscape gardener, W A Nesfield, nephew of architect Anthony Salvin, and pupil of William Burn, began his career c1865, sharing an office with Richard Norman Shaw 1866-9, with whom he developed his distinctive personal styles, a Dutch-French Classical termed 'Queen Anne' and the 'Old English'. Kinmel was his first great undertaking, which was to be shortly followed by the remodelling of Bodrhyddan, Clwyd, 1872-3, Plas Dinam, Powys, 1873-4, and by Gwernyfed Park, 1877-80. The design of the house is influenced both by the Wren's Hampton Court style, and by the French Henri I-ere style of Mansart's Chateau de Balleroy, whilst the connecting wing to the stables shows influence of the earlier French Renaissance style of Jean Bullant. After the death of H R Hughes in 1911, the succession was problematical, and the house suffered various vissicitudes, becoming a school (Kinmel School) in 1929. It suffered damage by fire in 1934, and after closure it became a Rheuma Spa under Mrs Florence Lindley of Bodelwyddan for four years until it was requisitioned for use as a military hospital in 1940. After the war it was a hotel for a short period until taken on by Clarendon School as a boarding school for girls in 1948, eventually closing after another major fire which broke out on 29.9.1975, damaging the roofs and service wing. It is now, after 3 years of derelicton followed by extensive repairs, leased as a Christian Conference Centre.  

Built of fine red brick with ashlar sandstone dressings. Steeply pitched grey-green slate roofs. The main front faces E; two storeys and attic, 17 bays. Central pavilion of 3 storeys with attics and very tall. 21-pane sash windows with flush stone quoins, and enriched entablature with dentilled cornice. Fifteen-paned sashes to the first floor with segmental heads, keystones carved by J Forsyth, rising into the architrave, and iron gallery accessed from the central window. The third floor has 16-pane sashes with narrower 8-paned windows at the ends, divided by panelled and enriched stone pilasters. Dentilled entablature. Steeply pitched roof with segmental-headed dormers set high, two to the front, one on the returns, and a balustraded widow's walk gallery on the top lead flat. Tall panelled brick stacks, including one curiously placed assymetrically, with the roof stair enclosure behind. The same detail continues for the recessed four bays each side of the central pavilion, but 2-storied and large pedimented timber windows to the attic floor set in a mansard roof. Narrow 2-bay outer wings break forward and are flush-quoined, plus one terminal bay at each end with enriched door and 1st floor windows. Lead roof ladder and finials, and brick stacks. The E front of the service ranges connects directly to the Coachhouse and Stables building (q v). Fine red brick with stone dressings. Jacobean style pavilion tower of 3 storeys forms the entrance, round arch on the ground floor with large brackets to 12-paned sashes on the first floor enclosed by herm pilasters in a pedimented frame. The second floor level also has paired windows, with sunflower on the central mullion and an egg and dart cornice. Initialled HRH 1871. To either side, moulded stone bands with eared and shouldered 16-paned sashes. Coved plastered eaves with impressed sunflower and chrysanthemum patterns. The rear elevation is less formally symmetrical than the front, the 11 left (N) bays repeat the front detail, with a narrow 3-bay pavilion containing the rear garden pedimented door and side lights, and a 2 bay end pavilion beyond 3-bay recessed wings. The end double bay is repeated to the right, but recessed above the ground floor, two very large windows lighting the main stair, and a lead frieze with pies and sunflowers. Further to the S, the prominent chapel, projecting 3 bays, with dramatic steep roof, and a tall timber domed bellcote. It is quoined and has a very large round headed W window; 3 small windows to the lower floor, and a circular baroque-framed dormer. Beyond, the extensive service ranges extend up the slope of the ground. Rainwater hoppers are signed and dated H 1872. The chimneys also have initialled terracotta panels displaying birds and sunflowers, and the date AD 1871.  

The rooms of state lie at the N end behind the formal facades. Large entrance hall with a smoking room to the left in the central pavilion (E side), leading to a raised cross circulation corridor, and main dining room at the rear. The corridor leads to a saloon, with rear access to the garden. This space provides access to the library, with a neo-Elizabethan overmantle, the ballroom, which is barrel vaulted and has a oriel gallery at one end, and the drawing room at the N end, with a fireplace with marble slips and ceramic tiles. The main stair, accessed through a triple arched arcade S of the dining room has a 'solarium' off the first half-landing, and access to the chapel, which has kitchen storerooms below and stranger maids' quarters in the roof. The stair rises to a further triple arcade giving on to a wide longitudinal corridor on the first floor, which has the principal bedchambers including the State Bedroom, now known as the 'Victoria Suite', at the N end, which has the royal arms in the overmantle. The service arrangements for the house are arranged around an internal courtyard at the S end, and link to the stables (q v). A private study, with a business room and archives chamber are intervened between the smoking room and service area on the E. All principal rooms have lavishly detailed plaster ceilings of varying designs. The raised corridor has a massive marble balustrade overlooking the Sunken Lounge, which is panelled in marble, although the great oak and alabaster armorial fireplace has been removed to Kinmel Hall Hotel. The stair hall has a high oak dado, with plaster panelling above, and coved ceiling with plaster and painted enrichment.  

Reason for designation
Listed Grade I as a building of major national importance for its innovative style, by a leading British architect of the mid-late Victorian period.  

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