Plas Mawr is one of the best preserved Elizabethan town houses in Britain having been built between 1577-1580 in Conwy, for an influential Welsh squire, Robert Wynn or Wynne. The interiors are impressive, as the rooms have been restored from it`s derelict state to how it would probably have looked in Robert Wynn’s time. Throughout the house are beautiful examples of plasterwork and furniture, which is either of the period or an original piece from the house itself. There are 365 windows and 52 steps which lead to the watchtower, with rooms including the Lantern Room and Queen Elizabeth`s Parlour, which has the Queens initials.
The History of Plas Mawr
Robert Wynn (d. 1598) was the third son of a local landowner. Having travelled widely in Europe as assistant to Sir Philip Hoby, who undertook diplomatic and military missions for the Tudor monarchs for twenty years, Robert Wynn married at the age of fifty and bought in Conwy where he was to have his new house built. Incorporating elements that were fashionable in London into it`s design, as well as reminders of his own and his wife’s family connections with the gentry families of Wales. He employed specialist plasterers to create decorative schemes in the main rooms, incorporating heraldic emblems of the families to whom Robert Wynn was related, many of which contain his own initials. Plas Mawr eventually became the home for him, his second wife Dorothy and their seven children.
There is a tragic story associated with this place that tells of Robert’s pregnant second wife and young son who were in the tower, watching for Robert’s return. After a while the tower became cold and she decided to leave for the warmth of the lower levels. On descending the stairs whilst carrying her son, she slipped and both were badly hurt. The servants carried her to her room, (known as the lantern room) and sent for the doctor. Unfortunately their usual doctor was otherwise engaged, so a more junior doctor was sent to examine them both. The junior doctor could see how badly she and the child were injured, and was afraid that he didn’t have enough experience to treat them both properly. As he went to leave the servants apparently locked him in, rather than have nobody attending their mistress. When the master of the house finally arrived home and was told of the tragedy, he rushed to the room only to find that the doctor had disappeared and his wife, premature baby and child were dead. Filled with rage at the doctor for abandoning his family and was past himself with grief, Robert vowed to hunt the doctor down.
Robert never did find the doctor and some say that it was because he tried to escape up the chimney, as there was no other way to leave, and died there. Shortly afterwards, Robert also died. Whether this was by his own hand or of a broken heart as a result of the tragedy is a mystery.
The Ghosts of Plas Mawr
The house is said to be haunted by Robert Wynn, who constantly searches Plas Mawr for the young doctor to seek his revenge.
The young doctor himself is also said to haunt the house, and occasionally the ghost of Lady Wynn is seen.
Strange noises are often reported emanating from the Lantern Room which then seem to travel around the whole of the house.
There are also other spirits reported here by various staff members and volunteers.