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This £2.25m Welsh castle comes complete with fire-breathing dragon
[NEW YORK] One lucky property buyer who is having Outlander withdrawal can get his or her fix of castle life at Castell Gyrn in northern Wales. Priced at £2.25 million (S$3.97 million) through Cavendish Residential, the stone fortress comes with panoramic views, a grotto, and a dragon sculpture that breathes fire when guests enter through the gates. (OK, it's more for a Game of Thrones fan.)
In contrast to Winterfell or Dragonstone, Castell Gyrn has been completely renovated. No woolly vests or fur capes required.
"It's a double-glazed castle," says owner Jeff Thompson of the property he purchased in 2005 before commencing a five-year gut renovation on the main structure. "It looks and feels like a castle, but we completely redid the inside so it feels like a house." To ensure the structure remains draft-free, Mr Thompson had bronzed casement windows created and installed for effective climate control of the 5,800 square-foot residence.
Featuring six bedrooms (four with en-suite bathrooms), three reception rooms, a library, cinema, breakfast room, study, and oak-paneled dining room, the property occupies just over 10 acres on the western slopes of the Clwydian Hills, with views across the Vale to Snowdonia and the North Wales coast in the west and the Berwyn Mountains to the south.
Castell Gyrn is located 20 miles from the city of Chester, 30 miles from Liverpool, and 57 miles from Manchester. The local market town of Ruthin is five minutes by car, Mr Thompson says.
Designed and built by noted architect John Taylor, the castle was constructed in four phases from 1977 to 1994—though it looks hundreds of years older from the exterior. Mr Thompson added a two-bedroom detached lodge on the grounds and a three-vehicle garage block with basement.
Sculptures by local artisans dot the lawns, including a shell-lined grotto and large statues of an eagle and a dragon created by a local wood sculptor.
Why the dragon? "It's very tongue-in-cheek," says Mr Thompson of the whimsy that was fashioned in 2013 from a large tree that hindered access to the drive. A year later the mythical beast would be granted its fiery, propane-fueled voice in the wake of a spirited and ultimately inventive discussion at the local pub.
The unnamed dragon spouts flames when the wrought-iron entrance gates are opened. Unlike the dragons of Game of Thrones, this one has an off switch, Mr Thompson says.
Other less-reptilian outdoor amenities include a manicured courtyard with gravel paths, flower beds, and a wildlife pond.
Following a career operating veterinary laboratory companies in the British midlands, Mr Thompson and his wife purchased the property as a holiday home, but upon retirement it became their permanent residence. "We just fell more and more in love with the house, the area, and the people here," he says.
When the couple took ownership of the castle, Mr Thompson recalls, the then-color scheme was "very, very '70s" and the scale of the rooms was small. An initial renovation budget of £350,000 was set, but he admits to spending more than seven figures on the structure over the last decade.
Mr Thompson says he paid about £1.25 million for Castell Gyrn in 2005, noting the property came with an adjacent 30-plus acres of land, which are not offered as part of the current sale.
With plans to remain in the vicinity, he says his reason for putting Castell Gyrn on the market is to downsize in retirement.
House prices in Wales grew by 4.4 per cent in the year to April, up from 4.2 per cent in the year to March, according to official statistics from Britain's Land Registry, which also notes that Welsh prices are growing slightly quicker than the UK annual rate of 3.9 per cent in the year to April. The average price for a residential property in Wales is £156,495 as of April 2018.
Larger and less expensive castles are available for purchase across the UK, though many are in need of partial or complete restoration. And they don't necessarily come with a fire-breathing dragon.