10 August 2020 10:30

Gwrych Castle

Want the latest news sent straight to your inbox? Sign up for regular updates from WalesOnline Thank you for subscribing We have more newsletters Show me See our privacy notice Invalid Email Set back into a verdant, wooded hillside with far-reaching views of the Welsh coastline, this is the ruined castle that looks set to replace the Australian jungle as the setting for this year's I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here. The 200-year-old Gwrych Castle - which has a colourful history that includes being bequeathed to the Crown, hosting training camps for champion boxers, housing Jewish refugees during wartime, and being the subject of numerous ghost sightings - is the favourite location for this year's series, it has been reported. ITV last week announced plans to film the reality series - known for its gruesome Bushtucker Trials - in the UK rather than Australia because of the restrictions imposed by the coronavirus pandemic. At the time, producers would only specify that the location would be a ruined castle - sending the rumour mill into overdrive about which historic site would get the nod.

But today Good Morning Britain weather presenter Laura Tobin has been discussing the difference in weather between north Wales (the site of Gwrych Castle) and New South Wales (where the series is usually set). Gwrych Castle was built between 1812 and 1822 by Lloyd Hesketh Bamford-Hesketh as a permanent memorial to the Lloyds of Gwrych, his mother's ancestors, passing to the Dundonald family in the late 19th century. When Bamford-Hesketh's granddaughter, the Countess of Dundonald, died in 1924, the castle was left to King George V - but the monarch refused the gift, sparking a succession of colourful uses, including staging a training camp for the champion boxer Randolph Turpin, homing 200 Jewish refugees during World War II, and hosting the motorcycle rallies, medieval re-enactments and large festivals. Watch This Morning viewers react to news of the I'm A Celebrity move However, after it closed to the public in 1985, the building starting to fall into disrepair, despite a succession of failed plans to renovate it after it was bought by American businessman Nick Tavaglione in 1989. More recently, there have been plans to spend £6m turning it into a luxury hotel, before it was eventually sold to its current owners, the Gwrych Castle Preservation Trust, in June 2018.

Recent work to renovate the site has even coincided with spike in sightings of reported supernatural activity. In 2016, Dr Mark Baker, chairman of Gwrych Castle Preservation Trust, said the restoration of the Gardener's Tower at the site could have stirred up the spirit of the Countess, who used the first floor chamber in the building as her writing room until her death. He said: "We started doing restoration work on the castle, particularly in the garden, and lots of strange things have been happening. "We've had reports of people seeing a women dressed in white walking around the garden. "It is thought that the white lady could be the Countess of Dundonald as we have just restored her private writing room.

ITV have so far remained tight-lipped about the reports, with a spokesman saying only: "We pulled out all the stops to try and make the series happen in Australia. "Unfortunately, due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and despite us looking at many different contingencies, it became apparent that it just wasn't possible for us to travel and make the show there. "However, we are all really excited about a UK version of I'm A Celebrity. While it will certainly be different producing the show from the UK, the same tone and feel will remain. "Our celebrities will probably have to swap shorts for thermals but they can still look forward to a basic diet of rice and beans and plenty of thrills and surprises along the way." Want the best local news sent to your inbox daily? Sign up to our newsletter Subscribe Thank you for subscribing We have more newsletters Show me See our privacy notice Invalid Email As well as the show's famous Bushtucker Trials, contestants on I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here may have to content with ghosts as the new series is set to take place at a haunted castle in Wales, Huge TV news broke on Friday when ITV confirmed that I'm A Celebrity would be in the UK this year, switching to British soil from its usual home of Australia, due to the global coronavirus pandemic. And, rather than bedding down in the jungle, the stars taking part this year will need to get used to some very spooking surroundings. If rumours are to be believed, the 2020 series of I'm A Celebrity will be based at Gwrych Castle in Aberegle, North Wales and, as well as having to put up with the always unpredictable British weather and all manner of challenges, which look set to be even gorier than they are Down Under, the I'm A Celebrity contestants could well be joined by ghosts as the rural castle is said to be haunted. The Sun reports that the castle is home to a 'floating woman in white', thought to be Countess of Dundonald, who died in 1924. One member of staff at the castle, which re-opened in early July after being shut during lockdown, said: "A few people have claimed to have seen a floating woman in white. We think the Countess might be unhappy as her husband stripped the castle of valuables. Paranormal investigators have also claimed to have recorded voices on numerous occasions, with other ghosts at Gwrych said to be a servant girl who died falling off a horse on the estate and past gamekeepers. The I'm A Celebrity line-up this year is rumoured to include everyone from Love Island's Tommy Fury to Tiger King's Carole Baskin, with other names in the frame said to be Strictly pro AJ Ptirchard and former EastEnders actress Tamzin Outhwaite. A post on the Gwrych Castle's website boasts that "it is one of the most important buildings of its type in Europe," and was built by Lloyd Hesketh Bamford Hesketh, heir of the Lloyds of Gwrych, from 1810, with the construction work going on for four decades. Want to keep up to date with Cheshire's What's On news? Sign up to our newsletter! Subscribe here Thank you for subscribing See our privacy notice Invalid Email It's well known for being filmed deep in the heart of the Australian jungle, but this year's series of I'm a Celebrity will be a little bit different. ITV bosses sparked big speculation last week when they revealed that the popular show would be filmed in a ruined castle in the UK countryside, due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Rumours have been circulating about where the location could be, with Ewloe Castle on the Chester border tipped to be one of the potential sites. But according to national reports, ITV has secured the ancient haunted Gwrych Castle in Abergele for the 20th series, which will be aired later this year. The castle, which is around a 40 minute drive from Chester, dates back more than 200 years and has been subject to a number of strange sightings in the past, including the ghostly figure of a woman dressed in white floating in the air. And according to The Sun, spooky happenings will play a big part in this year's series, and bosses are even hoping to capture terrifying goings-on with the use of night vision cameras. A source on the ITV show said: "Producers are chuffed with the new location — they're excited for a change in scenery this year. "Obviously upping sticks and moving to a completely new location was a tough decision, but they feel confident it's the right one. "The Bushtucker trial crew, who work tirelessly all year round, have been working overtime to come up with some terrifying new trials and challenges. It's going to be compelling viewing." Trials are set to have a medieval theme, including jousting, dungeons and even fake gallows. And The Sun reported that a source said: "Just because it's in the UK, it doesn't mean that celebrities can breathe a sigh of relief and think they are free of snakes, rats and frogs. "There are lots of plans to terrify them with some tried and tested methods. "There will definitely be tasks where the stars have to eat unappetising things and put creatures in their mouths like previous years. "They're determined to make the trials as exciting and nail-biting as possible. "Not only will there be creepy crawlies galore, but now they have the added aid of playing with a haunted castle. They think it will make for brilliant TV."