Gwrych Castle is the new home to I’m a Celebrity when it reappears for a new series, probably sometime in November.
Wrapped in secrecy, the ITV show is being developed with unprecedented times in mind.
That means there will be no jetting off – or parachuting in – to the exotic Springbrook National Park, the usual home to camp for celebrities heading Down Under to New South Wales.
Instead, the location is one that will be familiar to tens of thousands of people from the West Midlands, Shropshire and Staffordshire who holiday or take day trips to North Wales each year.
Nestled in a hillside and surrounded by trees, as well as a popular golf course, the historic landmark has a distinctly haunted feel to it.
It is a theme ITV bosses are likely to jump on. Rumour has it that Kiosk Kev will be traded in for the ghostly ‘Woman in White’.
Campmates will live within the walls of the 200-year-old castle, presumably with some kind of heating provided. The landmark has appeared in Great British Railway Journeys, hosting a visit by Michael Portillo. but will have experienced nothing quite like it as new winter-friendly challenges are devised to keep viewers entertained.
According to sources, trials will have a medieval twist. The ruins are said to be haunted by the ghost of the previous owner, the Countess of Dundonald, and that element of its history will be leaned on heavily by producers. The Woman in White, as she is known by locals, is said to be angry that her husband stripped the castle of her valuables and sold them. A chilling photo taken there 10 years ago shows a pale young woman in what used to be a banquet hall. However, the floorboards beneath the window had rotted away, making it impossible for her to have been standing there.
One castle worker said: “A few people have claimed to have seen a floating woman in white. Ghost-hunters have also claimed to have felt the presence of her and gamekeepers. We think the Countess might be unhappy as her husband stripped the castle of valuables. They certainly didn’t have a happy marriage.”
Gwrych Castle is located near Abergele in Conwy, North Wales and was built between 1810 and 1825 by Lloyd Hesketh Bamford-Hesketh.
The castle played an important role in World War II, as the Government used it to house 200 Jewish refugees. It also served as the training grounds for English World Middleweight boxing champion Randolph Turpin in the early 1950s.
Gwrych Castle became known as ‘The Showpiece of Wales’ and over the years has attracted many visitors, but has been closed since lockdown. There are regular ghost hunts at the castle and three years ago paranormal investigators claimed to have recorded a voice from the other side. The ghosts of past gamekeepers are also said to stalk the castle’s grounds, which include a creepy pet cemetery.
Many other locations in north Wales are also said to have been snapped up for I’m a Celebrity, including popular tourist attraction Manorafon Farm Park, and a string of hotels in nearby Rhyl.
And the excitement is spreading, as now Abergele Golf Club, which boasts great views of Gwrych Castle, is offering a free round of golf – but only to people playing as a pair whose name is Ant and Dec.