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Tuesday, 9 June 2015

International Archives Day

On International Archives Day, it seems appropriate to highlight one of the many international stories our collections can tell.

This is an image of the panelled seventeenth-century dining room at Gwydir Castle near Llanrwst in north Wales:
Gwydir Castle, DI2011_1054, NPRN 26555

The photograph is attributed to Una Norman, and was taken sometime prior to 1912. In 1921, Gwydir Castle was sold and the ornate dining room furnishings were stripped out and purchased through auction by the American newspaper baron William Randolph Hearst. When he died in 1951, he bequeathed the Gwydir dining room furniture to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The museum took the items into their stores, where they remained out of sight and out of mind for over forty years.

In 1994, Gwydir Castle once again changed hands and its new owners began an ambitious programme of renovation and restoration. As part of this programme, they negotiated with the Metropolitan Museum for the return of the dining room furnishings. It was eventually repatriated to Wales in 1996, and reinstated at its original location. The Prince of Wales formally opened the dining room at a ceremony in 1998, almost eighty years after it was removed, and nearly sixty years after Gwydir was described in the Royal Commission’s Caernarvonshire Inventory!

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