I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! is back on ITV and the 2020 series sees the 10 celebrities camp out at a castle in Wales. Due to travel restrictions, the creators of the series had to find an entirely new venue for the campmates, and they came across Gwrych Castle which is steeped in history. Mark Baker, chairman of the Gwrych Castle Preservation Trust, spoke exclusively to Express.co.uk about the history of the castle.
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Fans of the reality competition series have already fallen in love with the venue for this year’s show, and the campmates have also been enjoying the castle’s quirks.
Mark Baker set up the preservation trust when he was just a child, as he showed a keenness to save the castle’s years of history for future generations to enjoy.
Speaking to Express.co.uk about the early origins of the castle, he said one of the sites has more than 2,000 years of history, from the Iron Age and Celts to Romans.
The castle saw many medieval battles as it was one of the most strategic points for battles along the Welsh coast.
The castle was the home of the Lloyd family, who were descendants from the native Welsh, and the story of the castle started with the heir Frances Lloyd in the late 18th century.
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Baker explained how she died very young, and her son wanted to build a monument for her. He said: “He started to build in memory of his mother, he started in 1810 and by the 1860s it had become one of the largest castles in Europe.”
His granddaughter had been a major patron of the arts, and when she died, she had left the castle to the royal family, but because she died so suddenly they had to decline the offer.
Instead, her estranged husband bought it back, but family history was destroyed. Baker has said anyone who has any information about the history of the castle should get in touch via the preservation trust’s website.
He went on to explain the more recent history of the castle, saying: “In the Second World War it housed 200 Jewish refugees and saved them from concentration camps.
“It was a kind of haven for them. In 1946 the Lloyd ownership came to an end and it was sold.” He said it became one of the first country houses open to the public in 1948, but was closed again in 1987.
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He added: “In the 1990s it was asset-stripped and bits of the interior were sold off.” As a child, Baker would pass the castle every day, and he wanted to preserve its history.
When he was just 12-years-old he founded the preservation trust, and a few years later in 2006 the previous owner put the castle up for sale.
The property was sold to a couple of hotel companies before the trust won ownership of it in 2018.
The castle has attracted plenty of attention since it featured on I’m A Celebrity, and fans have even reported paranormal sightings as they have been watching from home.
Crews supposedly saw a ghostly figure standing in one of the windows of the castle on launch night, so the celebrities may not be alone there.
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The most recent episodes have also introduced Kiosk Cledwyn at Ye Olde Shoppe, who is the estranged cousin of Kiosk Kev in Australia.
Giovanna Fletcher and Hollie Arnold successfully completed the first Castle Coin challenge, in which they had to make the celebrities ‘eat their words’.
They visited Kiosk Cledwyn with the hope of winning some Welsh Cakes for the group, but their teammates incorrectly answered the question and they went back to camp empty handed.
Fans will have noticed the sign for Ye Olde Shoppe is also written as Yr Hen Siop, and they have praised the show for staying true to Welsh customs.
One said on Twitter: “Nice to see bilingual signs being used at the ‘haunted’ Welsh castle.”
Some of the celebrities are still getting used to their new surroundings, with Shane Richie having shown a particular disliking for The Privvy, which he helped Victoria Derbyshire empty.
Schools in the area have also taken an interest in the castle, with Maesycwmmer Primary School starting a mini research project with the children.
The castle can be spotted along the Wales Coast Path along the Abergele coast, and once lockdown restrictions have been lifted, the location is expected to get a flurry of visitors.
One fan said on Twitter: “This year’s I’m A Celebrity is going to be one to remember it’s different but I still love it. Not far from the castle actually makes it feel more special when watching. Thank you for choosing Wales [sic].”
Another said: “I guess a good think about I’m a Celebrity being in the UK is Gwrych Castle have received some I’m assuming much needed money and it will probably gets loads of tourism next year and onwards [sic].”
The town has welcomed the celebrities and the ITV crews with open arms, and the new venue is a refreshing change for the long-running series.
I’m A Celebrity airs daily on ITV