InfoBritain - Travel Through History In The UK :
Plas Newydd, Anglesey
Plas Newydd was the sixteenth century home of William Paget, a man who came to prominence as an advisor to Henry VIII. He was also a member of the counsel who ruled England during the reign of Henry VIII's young son Edward VI. During these turbulent years Paget spent some time in The Tower of London, but he survived, and his house on the Menai Straits was passed down through the Paget family. Fashionable architect James Wyatt restyled the house in the eighteenth century, to give the building we see today.
Meanwhile the Paget family continued to produce notable figures in history. Henry Paget, 1st Marquess of Anglesey, was second in command to Wellington at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, where he lost a leg. A few generations later, we come to Henry Paget, the 5th Marquess, who was a very different character. He was more interested in having a good time than going to war. He built up huge debts buying jewelry, lavish clothes, and cars with exhaust systems perfumed with patchouli. He was fascinated by theatre, turning the chapel at Plas Newydd into his personal theatre, and taking the lead in his own productions. The 5th Earl even set up his own theatre company, and toured Europe and England as a kind of Liberace figure for a few years at the end of the nineteenth century. He died bankrupt at the age of 30 in Monte Carlo. The 6th Marquess, Charles Paget, represented a return to upright military values, serving in senior command during World War One. But a flamboyant theatrical influence also returned to Plas Newydd in the form of a brilliant young artist and theatrical designer named Rex Whistler. Whistler spent the 1930s working on commissions for various wealthy families, and arriving at Plas Newydd he fell in love with the 6th Marquess' daughter Lady Caroline Paget. Between 1936 and 1937 Whistler produced a huge painting on a single piece of canvas which covers an entire wall at the house, showing a romantic coastal landscape full of coded references to his love for Caroline. Tragically Rex Whistler was to be killed in July 1944, fighting in Normandy. He was killed close to his tank, which had a special bucket attachment in which he carried his paint brushes.
Today Plas Newydd reflects the various aspects of its colourful past. The 1st Duke is recalled with displays on the Battle of Waterloo, and Plas Newydd's theatrical past is commemorated in a large collection of Whistler paintings and drawings. There are also displays relating to Plas Newydd's time playing host to a merchant navy training college called HMS Conway, between the 1950s and 1970s.
Directions: Come off the A55 at junction 8a, onto the A4080, and continue for about two miles. Click here for an interactive map centred on Plas Newydd.
Address: Plas Newydd, Llanfairpwl, LL61 6DQ
Opening Times: Opening hours for National Trust properties can be complex. Please use contact details below.
Access: Grounds are partly accessible, but there are steep slopes. Ground floor of house accessible to manual wheelchairs. Adapted toilet facilities available.
telephone: 01248 714795