North West Wales

Catherine Zeta Jones donation helps Gwynedd 'lost palace' appeal milestone

Land where the princes' palace is believed to have stood
Image caption The princes' palace is believed to have stood on this piece of farmland

Hollywood star Catherine Zeta Jones has made a "substantial" donation to an appeal by a trust which is bidding to buy the site of a "lost palace" of medieval Welsh princes.

The Garth Celyn Trust says it is about half way to raising the £180,000 market value the land at Abergwyngregyn in Gwynedd.

Llywelyn the Great and Llywelyn the Last are thought to have lived there.

Zeta Jones is also interested in plans for a Welsh performance centre there.

Kathryn Gibson, a member of the trust, said the Swansea-born actress and her husband Michael Douglas got involved in the project last October.

Image caption Catherine Zeta Jones has expressed interest in the planned Welsh performance centre

"Michael Douglas asked for information and private details which he passed onto Catherine.

"She then got involved and made the donation," said Ms Gibson, who lives in a mansion called Pen-y-Bryn, which is adjacent to the 29-acre site which the trust is bidding to buy.

As well as a music and drama centre, which Ms Gibson said Zeta Jones has expressed an interest in getting involved in, there are also plans to erect a statue to the Welsh princes.

Llywelyn the Great and his family built many forts, courts and churches in and around Snowdonia between the 11th and 13th Centuries.

Historian Paul Martin Remfry, who is also a trustee, has carried out painstaking research into the history of the farmland.

he said he has uncovered "overwhelming" documentary evidence that the farmland at Abergwyngregyn does hide the royal palace.

In an essay he concludes: "The current remains within and under the house now called Pen y Bryn suggest a stone phase beginning in the early 12th Century with numerous additions continuing until perhaps the late 13th Century."

Detailed scan

He says that numerous repairs followed and documentary evidence suggests the buildings were kept in some form of repair right up until the reign of Henry VI (1422-71).

After a period of ruin in the 16th Century, the buildings were repaired and rebuilt by the Thomas family in the latter half of the 1500s.

Mr Remfry said: "The home of the Welsh princes of Wales has been ignored for far too long.

"The palace of Llywelyn has always been considered to have existed but until now there has not been much detail of where it was."

The appeal has won support from former Monty Python star Terry Jones, former pathologist Professor Bernard Knight, and the bard Tudur Dylan Jones, he added.

Ms Gibson said there are signs of walls and buildings under the earth on the site and a detailed scan of the farmland is to take place this summer by a Swedish company.

Elements of performance have been going on at the site for years, but if the trustees manage to buy the 29 acres and derelict farm buildings, they will create a permanent centre combining music, drama, poetry, dance, and exhibitions of local craft, she said.

Zeta Jones was recently among those who backed a National Trust campaign to raise £1m to buy a Snowdonia farm which is home to the legend of the red dragon of Wales.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites