The I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! Campmates get ready to enter the castle on Sunday for tough Bushtucker Trials, and rural experience.
But despite the difficult conditions they’ll be facing in the cold draughts of Gwrych Castle, it will be nothing compared to the real-life tragedies that have unfolded there.
With the 2021 series returning to Wales amid ongoing Covid-19 restrictions, this year’s line-up is an impressive one, featuring the likes of GMB presenter Richard Madeley, Emmerdale star Danny Miller, and BBC Breakfast’s Louise Minchin.
We look at tragedies in Abergele that have been real, from the tragic death of a mum while trying to photograph the castle to the discovery of a body in the nearby forest.
Find your body in the woods
The body of a man was discovered just yards from the castle in December. However, the 2020 list of celebs was still inside the castle.
The discovery of the man’s body was made just off Abergele Road, close to Lady Emily’s Tower, just after 10am on Saturday, November 28, 2020.
Police attending the scene said there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding the unnamed man’s death, and he was believed to have been riding a mountain bike around the woodland area around the castle.
North Wales Police spokesperson announced the following: “We were notified at 10.57am on Saturday, November 28, by the Welsh Ambulance Service.
“It was found that a body of a man had been discovered. We believe he was riding a mountain bike in the woods around Abergele Road.
“He was pronounced dead at the scene. There are no suspicious circumstances and the coroner has been informed.”
Police carried out door-to-door enquiries at the time, as the man’s car was found parked in the area towards Rhyd y Foel in Wales.
Mother killed in a car accident
The cyclist’s death was not the only tragic occurrence at the castle last year.
Sharn Iona, 58, was trying to photograph the castle at night when she spotted lights.
The mother-of-2, Prestatyn in North Wales was declared dead on the spot after colliding with a blue Volvo Estate car at Middle Gate. It happened around 5pm on 21 November 2020.
Sharn was heading out to photograph the castle for a friend. She failed to capture it. “see the lights”While driving.
Her family issued this statement: “Sharn passed away on the 21st November at roughly 5pm on the A547 Abergele Road, whilst attempting to see the lights at Gwrych Castle.
“Sharn was the youngest daughter of John & Gloria (nee Garbutt) Bevan and she was the devoted wife of Elfyn Hughes, and loving mother to Arron & Annah Hughes.
“Her family and friends are in total shock and perplexed by her tragic death and wish to say the following about their loss.
“Sharn was selfless and had a joyful, charitable outlook on life. She was in the process of organising deliveries of hampers to the local food bank through the Women’s Institute. We’ll miss her kindness forever.
“Her curiosity led to her wanting to see the lights at Gwrych Castle which unfortunately led to her untimely tragic death along a very busy road. We are truly heartbroken.
“She had hoped to take a photograph and email it to a close friend. We know many others will do it and we plan to do the exact same. We encourage people to be cautious and remember that it is a busy major A class road.”
Sharn had been involved in plenty of local groups and campaigns, including two Women’s Institutes and food banks at which she helped to organise collections.
ITV also issued a statement after the devastating incident, with bosses saying they were “We are deeply saddened” to hear the news.
ITV producers released a statement which read: “I’m A Celebrity is saddened to learn of the tragic accident close to Gwrych Castle. They send their thoughts, prayers, and condolences to Sharn Hughes’ family.
Although the castle dates back to 1810, it was constructed on the same land in the 14th Century.
The castle was completely rebuilt in 1810. Lloyd Hesketh Bamford Hesketh owned it until 1822.
Mrs Bamford Hesketh, who died tragically in 1902 at the castle herself, was killed in an accident.
It was perhaps fitting that she was visiting her daughter at that time. According to an article in the Record and Advertiser, August 1988, Mrs Hesketh was making her annual trip to Dundonald to visit her daughter.
The article is as follows: “She appeared to be in her usual vigorous state of health, but about noon on Wednesday she was seized with apoplexy. Dr Peter Jones was sent for, and was immediately in attendance.
“He knew it was hopeless and Mrs Hesketh passed away within two hours.
“All the family were present when the deceased lady passed away.”
Betrayal beyond reproach
More than two decades later in 1924 came the death of Mrs Hesketh’s daughter, the Countess of Dundonald.
After her death, Winifred Cochrane, the former owner of the castle, was betrayed and tried to give the castle to King George V through her will. This was to end 1,000 years private ownership.
However, the kind gift was refused and the castle put up for auction – and her husband, the 12th Earl of Dundonald Douglas Cochrane, sold all of her worldly possessions in order to snatch the castle from under his wife’s dead body.
Now, it is believed that her ghost haunts Castle at Night, furious with her husband and devastated by his treachery.
The Rhyl Record and Advertiser reported this in 1887. “dangerous”Gwrych Castle was home to night-time poachers.
The article reports that poachers from Denbigh (south of Prestatyn) entered the land at night. They were later caught and charged. “night poaching and being in possession of offensive weapons”.
It also includes: “Evidence was given by two gamekeepers and a police constable to the effect that prisoner with a gang of Denbigh poachers were poaching in Gwrych Castle Park.
“They were armed using bludgeons as well as a weapon made from the prong of an pitchfork and sharpened bayonet style to a stick.”
The poachers left behind the corpses of 19 rabbits in their wake.
I’m A Celebrity starts Sunday, November 21 at 9pm.
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