About Kinmel Hall 1852-1911- Hugh Robert Hughes Portraits

1852 - 1911 Private House :: Hugh Robert Hughes (HRH)

Hugh Robert Hughes (1827-1911) inherited Kinmel Hall and the surrounding Kinmel Park along with huge wealth and land holdings when he was aged 25 in October 1852.

His cousin, the second Lord Dinorben who was disabled and unmarried with no children, had died at the age of just 32, not long after inheriting Kinmel Hall and its estates. The Kinmel Park Estate and its vast holdings, including Kinmel Hall passed to the nearest male relative.

Hugh Robert Hughes (known as HRH) was the son of Hugh Robert Hughes of Bache Hall, Chester (1774-1836), who in turn was the younger brother of William Lewis Hughes, 1st Lord Dinorben (1767–1852). So when his uncle and his cousin both died, HRH was the next male heir.

Crippling Inheritance Taxes

Double death duties were imposed following the deaths of William Lewis Hughes, 1st Lord Dinorben (1767–1852), and his son William Lewis Hughes, 2nd Lord Dinorben (1821-1852) who died within eight months of each other in the same year. Because of their vast wealth and landholdings these inheritance taxes were substantial and had a lasting impact.

The house Hugh Robert Hughes (HRH) inherited was a much smaller Kinmel Hall located behind what would eventually become known as The Garden House in the walled kitchen garden. The current existing Kinmel Hall which replaced it is built on part of its foundations and incorporates some of its walls and features of the lower floor windows.

Marriage and Children

In 1853 Hugh Robert Hughes married Florentia Emily Liddell (1828-1909), second daughter of Henry Thomas, 2nd Lord Ravensworth and cousin to Alice Liddell who was the inspiration for Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. Over time their marriage produced two sons and six daughters.

Construction Commences

Hugh Robert Hughes immediately embarked on an extensive building programme. The first building constructed was the Garden House which was completed in 1853. Right next to the Garden House is the Stable Block which was completed in 1855 or 1856 and believed to have been designed in a Neo-Palladian style by the noted Scottish architect William Burn.

The Nesfield Kinmel

Around 1866 HRH hired William. E. Nesfield to design a number of lodges and other buildings around the area. In 1870 William. E. Nesfield was asked to design and construct a new Kinmel Hall and his father William. A. Nesfield was asked to design and lay out the gardens.

A number of factors may have influenced this decision. The old Kinmel Hall no longer suited their needs and in 1870 Queen Victoria visited Kinmel. Something bigger and grander was needed.

The resulting Kinmel Hall was a palatial building complex which is known as the crowning jewel in Nesfield's career and referred to as "Nesfield's Crown".

It was created as a calender house with 365 windows, 12 entrances, 122 rooms, some of which were luxurious and spacious family rooms, others more functional, plus a grand central staircase and a chapel. The Venetian gardens and walled kitchen gardens were equally both breathtaking and functional, requiring nine gardeners to maintain the grounds.

Elements of the old Kinmel Hall were incorporated and materials from the nearby Lleweni Hall which had been partially demolished by William Hughes, 1st Lord Dinorben, were also used.

The entire complex was designed to impress and is a masterpiece of design and construction. It was Victorian splendour at its finest, fit for royalty. Nesfield's Kinmel Hall was completed in 1874.

Death of Hugh Robert Hughes (HRH)

Throughout his life Hugh Robert Hughes (HRH) was an ostentatious and extravagant man who enjoyed showing off his luxurious and opulent lifestyle. He delighted in showing off his wealth and spent vast sums of money on being flamboyant and sometimes eccentric.

His personal barber travelled from London to Kinmel to cut his hair. He had food, flowers and clothes sent to him from Kinmel Hall by train twice daily when he was staying away from home. He spent vast sums on construction projects, unsuccessful political campaigns and showing off.

When he inherited the Kinmel Estate in 1852 it had large land holdings and business interests and vast amounts of money. By the time HRH died in 1911 the Kinmel estate and its holdings had dramatically shrunk, having been sold off to pay for his opulent lifestyle.

He left behind a legacy of debt and responsibility which would prove to be a lifelong burden to the son who inherited it. But he also left behind the treasure which is the Nesfield Kinmel Hall.