Opulent but somehow sinister...

by David Swatton May. 15, 2019 274 views

In our recent trip to north Wales we visited Penrhyn Castle, now under the guardianship of the National Trust. It was a medieval castle that had, for the time, a multi-million pound make-over in the early 19th century by the then-owner Richard Pennant.

The stone-work inside is totally amazing - in true 19th century style it is almost overpowering but very ornate and dramatic... but why sinister.

Obviously, this is a personal perspective but I found the Pennants to be a thoroughly unpleasant self-serving bunch. They made their fortune from sugar plantations in Jamaica, exploiting their slaves to grow and harvest the cane then make the sugar for export back to England.

Richard Pennant was one of the most vocal anti-abolitionist MPs in parliament, repeatedly speaking in support of the retention of slavery and when the act of abolition was passed he received the equivalent today of millions of pounds in compensation for the loss of his property - the freed slaves.

The Pennants then invested in quarrying and owned the largest slate quarry in the world at that time, in north Wales, and treated their workers there little better than the slaves they had in the West Indies.

See what I mean about unpleasant....?

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There are 12 comments , add yours!

Jeez, the process of becoming rich by doing nothing else but exploiting others will never change. The castle had to shout into the eye "I'm rich" and at the same time had to compensate the missing long line of noble ancestry by being overwhelming. Nevertheless today it's worth to visit and to look at the architectural artwork. In the end everybody will be talking about the artists, carftsmen, exploited humans and not so much about the person, who spent "his" money for it.
#3 - straight to my favorites!

2 months ago Edited
David Swatton Replied to Sigrid Strohschneider-Laue 2 months ago

I think you are right - there is definitely an over-demonstration of wealth to compensate for the lack of aristocratic heredity.

2 months ago Edited
Jay Boggess 2 months ago

Great camera work! 
Unfortunately, a major number of industrial titans became that way, at the expense of others....

2 months ago Edited
David Swatton Replied to Jay Boggess 2 months ago

I think it has always been the way sadly.

2 months ago Edited
Jay Boggess Replied to David Swatton 2 months ago

No doubt.....sigh....

2 months ago Edited
Camellia 2 months ago

The intricate designs are awe inspiring. One wonders how long it took each of those designs to be produced, considering the era. Interesting piece of history. Thanks for the share. Beautiful captures!!

2 months ago Edited
David Swatton Replied to Camellia 2 months ago

The opulence inside is almost overwhelming - it must have cost an absolute fortune to do

2 months ago Edited
Piotr Matura 2 months ago

You definitely captured in your photos this sinister athmosphere you described. They are stunning, by the way ;)

2 months ago Edited
Marilyn Grimble 2 months ago

As you say ... it is as it is!
Great post, history continually repeats itself. Today’s taskmasters are ever present. Mx

2 months ago Edited
David Swatton Replied to Marilyn Grimble 2 months ago

Yes, I dare say there are plenty of contemporary industrialists who would jump at the chance to reintroduce slavery...

2 months ago Edited
Antonio Gil 2 months ago

Thanks for contextualizing the pictures David. It's different that way

2 months ago Edited
Riyaz 2 months ago

What a beautiful post! Love the details captured beautifully!

2 months ago Edited
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