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King of the castles: Wales could also be out of the World Cup – however the medieval town of Conwy is a winner

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King of the castles (and residential to The Smallest House In Great Britain): Wales could also be out of the World Cup – however the medieval town of Conwy is a winner

  • Angela Epstein visits Conwy and finds that ‘everyone seems to relish living here’
  • She admires the view of Conwy Castle from the Quay Hotel & Spa in Deganwy
  • From the castle’s turrets, she will be able to see the River Conwy estuary and beyond

On Conwy’s waterfront, a huddled crowd gathers around a red-fronted house on the diminutive promenade of this quaint, North Wales town.

A cheery autumnal sun glances off the mudflats of the River Conwy estuary and greedy gulls with paunchy bellies wheel and squawk overhead.

The source of the group’s magnetic attraction (except for a cheery lady in traditional Welsh costume on the doorway)?

A tiny end-of-terrace property believed to be — because the sign over Quay House publicizes — ‘The Smallest House In Great Britain’.

Angela Epstein pays a visit to Conwy, the Welsh market town that is home to Conwy Castle (above) – ‘considered one of the country’s largest and best-preserved pieces of medieval constructing work’

Yet despite the fact that it stands at just 72in wide and 122in high, it’s unlikely any visitor to Conwy, a walled market town on the fringes of Snowdonia, will overlook this tiny tourist hub.

Jemmied into a niche by some poorly calculated Sixteenth-century constructing work, it bookends a run of much larger white terrace houses. Painted in a merry shade of scarlet, the home stands out like a tiny, somewhat than sore, thumb.

Mind you, it’s amazing what may be squashed into this two-storey (two-storey!) des res. Not least a single bed, a teeny tiny stove, a small table and a few hooks on which to hold clothes. It’s hard to imagine the last person to live in it was a strapping 6ft 3in local fisherman called Robert Jones.

But then, Conwy, as my husband Martin and I discover while touring the town, has myriad contrasts — perhaps best articulated by the proven fact that behind ‘The Smallest House In Great Britain’, the skyline is framed by considered one of the country’s largest and best-preserved pieces of medieval constructing work.

Pictured is ‘The Smallest House In Great Britain’, which stands at just 72in wide and 122in high. 'The house sticks out like a tiny, rather than sore, thumb,' says Angela

Pictured is ‘The Smallest House In Great Britain’, which stands at just 72in wide and 122in high. ‘The home stands out like a tiny, somewhat than sore, thumb,’ says Angela

'Everyone seems to relish living here,' Angela declares of Conwy (above)

‘Everyone seems to relish living here,’ Angela declares of Conwy (above) 

Conwy Castle was the architectural brainchild of Edward I, whose plan was to ascertain a sequence of fortified towns around Wales to guard the country he had just invaded.

Each Conwy and its castle were founded in 1283. We glimpse the latter for the primary time from the bedroom window of the Quay Hotel & Spa in Deganwy, a six-minute drive away, where now we have chosen to remain as much for its luxury spec as its view across the water. On the night of our arrival the castle is majestically floodlit in flushes of pink and rose.

Touring the castle means clambering up spiral staircases to achieve the highest of its eight circular turrets — a few of them 70ft high. At times only a chunk of vertically hung rope aids the climb, however the vertigo is rewarded with a panoramic view across the estuary and Snowdonia mountains beyond.

Angela's base is the Quay Hotel & Spa in Deganwy (above), a six-minute drive away from Conwy

Angela’s base is the Quay Hotel & Spa in Deganwy (above), a six-minute drive away from Conwy 

Edward I also ordered the development of stone partitions to encircle Conwy, and it’s still possible to finish a three-quarters-of-a-mile walk along these largely unbroken barriers, which soar and dip above the town centre like a static roller coaster.

Within the town centre, independent shops on the major street bristle with life (visit Edwards of Conwy, an award-winning master butcher, since the coolness counter is a murals) alongside nuggets of architectural history reminiscent of Plas Mawr — a late Sixteenth-century townhouse.

Everyone seems to relish living here (earlier this yr, Conwy was dubbed among the best places to live within the UK). 

As one twentysomething waitress at our hotel summed it up: ‘We will get to big cities if we wish. But otherwise, what more do we want.’

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