THE FAMILY that has lived at Chirk Castle for over 400 years has sold their historic collection to the National Trust.

Following negotiations with the Myddelton family, approximately 300 items of historic importance have been transferred to the National Trust where they will remain for the permanent enjoyment of the public.

Many of the items now owned by the Trust have been on loan to the charity since it acquired the castle in 1981. Over more than four decades, the Trust has been actively collecting different objects, artworks and books related to Chirk’s history as they have come up at auctions, through gifts and acceptance in lieu and through private sales.

With this latest purchase, the Trust has now acquired some of the most historically significant items in the collection.

The Leader: One of the portraits sold.One of the portraits sold. (Image: National Trust)

The last part of the collection now in Trust ownership includes numerous portraits of Myddelton family members spanning the centuries by artists such as Michael Dahl, Sir Godfrey Kneller and Sir Peter Lely; unique early 18th century landscapes by John Wootton and Peter Tillemans depicting Chirk and commissioned for the castle; and furniture by the fashionable 18th century cabinetmakers and upholsterers Ince & Mayhew, along with two spectacular pier glass mirrors. 

Unique survivals include a 17th century servants’ hall table made from one continuous piece of oak, over 5 metres (17 feet) long at which up to 40 staff would gather to take their meals.

The Leader: One of the documents involved in the sale. One of the documents involved in the sale. (Image: National Trust)

A large collection of estate documents, dating as early as 1250, gives glimpses into the story of the castle, its inhabitants and community over the centuries. During its history, Chirk Castle has existed both in England and in Wales as the borders were contested and changed. Royal papers from seven different monarchs, beginning with Elizabeth I, and a document showing the first known depiction of Chirk Castle in 1563, are among dozens of manuscripts that have transferred to the Trust. 


Of particular importance is a range of material relating to the English Civil War including notes, letters and a poster seeking and naming ‘traytors’ including Sir Thomas Myddelton the second, who supported Parliament at the start of the War but then transferred allegiance to Charles II for the restoration of the monarchy. 

The Leader: The black leather hat.The black leather hat. (Image: nat)

Another rare 17th century survival is a black leather hat, purchased ‘for the Baronet’ Thomas Myddelton (grandson of Thomas the second), and probably one of four new hats noted in the castle’s accounts in 1668.

Lhosa Daly, Director for Wales, National Trust Cymru said: “Chirk Castle is an iconic place in Welsh history, and we are thrilled to have been able to secure this last and most significant part of the collection on loan to us from the Myddelton family with items spanning hundreds of years.

“These objects speak of political, commercial and social history among generations of the family, but also of other families and individuals connected to the castle. Their artistic, musical and literary interests are clear to see along with how they commissioned the biggest names in architecture and decoration to design and update the castle. This purchase agreement cements the Myddelton family’s legacy as we continue to tell these stories.

Guy Myddelton said: “Chirk Castle has been owned and managed by the National Trust since 1981 and is no longer appropriate as a private family residence. I am pleased that we have been able to reach an agreement with the National Trust that secures the Myddelton family legacy at Chirk, as well as the remainder of the Chirk collection for future generations to view in the most appropriate setting.”