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The I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! campmates prepare to enter the castle for some tough Bushtucker Trials and experience of rural living on Sunday.

But despite the difficult conditions they’ll be facing in the cold draughts of Gwrych Castle, it will be nothing compared to the real-life tragedies that have unfolded there.

With the 2021 series returning to Wales amid ongoing Covid-19 restrictions, this year’s line-up is an impressive one, featuring the likes of GMB presenter Richard Madeley, Emmerdale star Danny Miller, and BBC Breakfast’s Louise Minchin.

But from a mum who was tragically killed while attempting to photograph the castle to a body being found in the nearby woods, we take a look at the real-life tragedies which have occurred in Abergele.

Body found in woods

Last December the body of a man was found just yards away from the castle – while the 2020 line-up of celebs were still tucked inside.

The discovery of the man’s body was made just off Abergele Road, close to Lady Emily’s Tower, just after 10am on Saturday, November 28, 2020.

Police attending the scene said there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding the unnamed man’s death, and he was believed to have been riding a mountain bike around the woodland area around the castle.

A spokesperson for North Wales Police announced at the time: "We were notified at 10.57am on Saturday, November 28, by the Welsh Ambulance Service.

"The body of a man, who we understand had been on a mountain bike in woods off Abergele Road, was discovered.

"He was pronounced dead at the scene. There are no suspicious circumstances and the coroner has been informed."

Police carried out door-to-door enquiries at the time, as the man’s car was found parked in the area towards Rhyd y Foel in Wales.

Mum killed in car crash

The cyclist’s death was not the only tragic occurrence at the castle last year.

Sharn Iona Hughes, aged 58, was killed in a car crash while attempting to photograph the castle when she spotted lights there.

The mum-of-two, from Prestatyn in North Wales, was pronounced dead at the scene after she collided with a blue Volvo estate car at Middle Gate, around 5pm on November 21, 2020.

Sharn had been heading out to take a photograph of the castle for a friend when she attempted to "see the lights" while driving.

Her family issued a statement, which read: "Sharn passed away on the 21st November at roughly 5pm on the A547 Abergele Road, whilst attempting to see the lights at Gwrych Castle.

"Sharn was the youngest daughter of John & Gloria (nee Garbutt) Bevan and she was the devoted wife of Elfyn Hughes, and loving mother to Arron & Annah Hughes.

"Her family and friends are in total shock and perplexed by her tragic death and wish to say the following about their loss.

"Sharn was so selfless, and had such a joyous, charitable attitude to life. She was in the process of organising deliveries of hampers to the local food bank through the Women’s Institute. We’ll miss her kindness forever.

"Her curiosity led to her wanting to see the lights at Gwrych Castle which unfortunately led to her untimely tragic death along a very busy road. We are truly heartbroken.

"She was hoping to take a photo and send it to a friend. We know that several others will have done and plan to do the same. We urge people to take so much care and remember it is a busy main A class road."

Sharn had been involved in plenty of local groups and campaigns, including two Women’s Institutes and food banks at which she helped to organise collections.

ITV also issued a statement after the devastating incident, with bosses saying they were "deeply saddened" to hear the news.

ITV producers released a statement which read: "Everyone at I'm A Celebrity is deeply saddened to hear of the tragic accident near Gwrych Castle and sends their thoughts and prayers to Sharn Hughes' family and friends at this extremely difficult time."

Sudden seizure

Of course, the castle itself dates back to 1810 – though there was a structure on the land from the 14th century.

In 1810 the castle was completely rebuilt, owned by Lloyd Hesketh Bamford-Hesketh until 1822.

In 1902 came the tragic death of Mrs Bamford-Hesketh in the castle itself.

Perhaps it was fitting that she had been visiting her daughter at the time, as according to a historic article published in the Record and Advertiser the August of that year, Mrs Hesketh was paying her annual trip to the Countess of Dundonald upon her death.

The article reads: "She appeared to be in her usual vigorous state of health, but about noon on Wednesday she was seized with apoplexy. Dr Peter Jones was sent for, and was immediately in attendance.

"He saw it was a hopeless case from the outset, and Mrs Hesketh died within two hours of her seizure.

"All the family were present when the deceased lady passed away."

Ruthless betrayal

More than two decades later in 1924 came the death of Mrs Hesketh’s daughter, the Countess of Dundonald.

The then-owner of the castle Winifred Cochrane was betrayed by her husband after her death, as she attempted to gift the castle to King George V in her will in a bid to end 1,000 years of private ownership.

However, the kind gift was refused and the castle put up for auction – and her husband, the 12th Earl of Dundonald Douglas Cochrane, sold all of her worldly possessions in order to snatch the castle from under his wife’s dead body.

It is now said that her ghost haunts the castle at night, furious with her tyrannical husband and devastated by his betrayal.

Dangerous weapons

Back in 1887, the Rhyl Record and Advertiser reported that "dangerous" night-time poachers had been on the property of Gwrych Castle.

The article in question reports the poachers from Denbigh, south of Prestatyn, entered the land at night and were subsequently caught and charged with "night poaching and being in possession of offensive weapons".

It adds: "Evidence was given by two gamekeepers and a police constable to the effect that prisoner with a gang of Denbigh poachers were poaching in Gwrych Castle Park.

"They were armed with bludgeons, and a weapon constructed of the prong of a pitchfork, sharpened and fastened bayonet fashion to a stick."

The poachers left behind the corpses of 19 rabbits in their wake.

I'm A Celebrity starts Sunday, November 21 at 9pm.

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