Dyfi Valley Houses.
This section was intended to examine what I can best describe as "significant houses" of the Dyfi Valley, including, as a 1824 map declares it: "Gentlemens Seats" [sic], and dig into their history a bit. So far it's become more of an examination of who lived in them, rather than of the buildings themselves, and this is entirely due to the fact that there's far more information available on the people than on the buildings. The houses are listed in alphabetical order, and I'll continue to add to the section as I gradually find out more.
Bod Frigau/Vrigau - see Lodge Park.
Cletwr Hall is set back from the main road at Tre'r Ddôl, and can easily be seen from the road. In the 1901 Census the occupants of Clettwr Hall were David Williams, his wife Jane and their daughter Jennie. That same year their son, Dr Owen Williams, returned home after fourteen months service as medical officer at the S.African front. In 1908 David Williams was listed as owning Alltycrib lead mine. In 1910 Capt. D Williams was recorded as living there. In 1914 and 1920 David Owen Williams M.B. was listed as a physician & surgeon. Jane Williams died in 1917. The current owners seem recently to have sold some of its land for the building of two substantial detached houses.
Cwmcynfelyn is a house set in its own grounds overlooking Llangorwen. Matthew Davies owned the estate in the 1700s, and became High Sheriff of Cardiganshire in 1790. Rev Isaac Williams was born there in 1802; his autobiography starts: "I was born at Cwmcynfelyn, where my mother was in the habit of staying occasionally with her father, but my early years were mostly spent in London, from the fact of my father being engaged as a Chancery barrister in Lincoln's Inn." His father's name was Isaac Lloyd Williams. He goes on to write that he lived off Bloomsbury Square, with two older brothers and a younger sister. He went to Harrow and Trinity College, Oxford, and it was while he was up at Oxford in 1822 that he met John Keble, who was to have a significant effect on the direction of Isaac's life. He became deeply involved in Tractarianism, otherwise known as the Oxford Movement, of which you can find out a great deal via the Internet if you so desire! On Isaac's grandfather's death the Cwmcynfelyn estate was split between his mother and aunt, and he henceforth divided his time between there and London, until he died in 1895. The 1895 Kelly's Directory showed Cwmcynfelyn as the seat of Mrs Bonsall, and nowadays it's a nursing home.
A Lewis Pugh bought the Abermad estate in 1852, and made a vast fortune from the Copa Hill mine in Cwm Ystwyth. He died in 1868, leaving his estate to his nephew, Lewis Pugh Evans (1837-1908) of Lovesgrove, on the condition that he changed his surname to Pugh. The re-named Lewis Pugh Pugh, who was at various times an MP and Attorney General to the Government of India, had the house at Cymerau, up behind Glandyfi, built in 1905. His son was Major Herbert Owain Pugh D.S.O., D.L. (b. 1874), and his grandson was Major-General Lewis Pugh. The Maj-Gen retired to Cymerau from the Army in 1961, developed its gardens until 1978, and died in 1981. Standing in a field by the country road that leads to Cymerau from Eglwysfach is a simple slate monument with the following words:
Erected to the Honour and Memory of
Major General Lewis Owain Pugh
C.B., C.B.E., D.S.O.** K.St.J., J.P., D.L.
formerly of Cymerau. In recognition of
his outstanding service to this country.
Subscribed for by members of the Mid-Wales
Branch of the Burma Star Association
to mark the 10th anniversary
of the formation of the Branch.
Built by the H.Q. Det. of the 3rd Batt.
R.W.F. (T.A.). Aberystwyth.
A stained glass window in Eglwysfach church commemorates various members of the Pugh family of Voelas and Cymerau. The property has now been converted into self-catering holiday accommodation. See: http://cymerauhall.com/
The house is set back in a field off the road near Tre'r Ddôl. Hugh Lloyd of Dol-clettwr, gentleman, left a will in 1693. In 1785, Thomas Alcocks, gentleman, lived at "Dolyclettwr". In 1810 "Dol Cletior" was the property of Major Gilbertson, who had received it by will from his maternal uncle, William Jones.
In 1882 a family by the name of Owen lived there, in 1895 James Griffiths, farmer, was at "Dolcletur", and in 1910 it was said to be owned by the Gwynfryn estate. Jane Griffiths, wife of Captain Griffiths, Dolclettwr, died in 1914, followed by the Captain himself in 1921. In 1941 Mr. and Mrs. R.J. Griffiths lived at Dolclettwr.
By 1969 a Mr John Davies, sometime Chairman of Cardiganshire National Farmers' Union, Chairman of Aberystwyth District Council and Chairman of Ceredigion Council, farmed there.
Dolbrodmaeth, near Dinas Mawddwy, was part of the Buckley estate, and the current owners believe it to have been converted to an inn in order to supplement the estate's income. It is a hotel now, with four acres of gardens and fields, and a frontage onto the River Dyfi. See: http://www.dolbrodmaeth.co.uk/english/index.php
Dolgelynen is a working farm, providing excellent Bed & Breakfast, and located at the end of a winding mile-long lane off the Machynlleth to Pennal road. See: http://www.dolgelynenfarmhouse.co.uk. The house, parts of which are 300 years old, is situated on a rise, leaving it out of reach of even the worst Dyfi floods, but its fields and hedges show evidence of regular inundation. Legend has it that a maiden by the name of Lleucu Llwyd once live there, and her sad story is the subject of a famous and ancient poem, Marwnad Lleucu Llwyd (The Death of Lleucu Llwyd).
Dyfi/Dovey Bank - see Voelas Hall.
Esgair (also known as Esgairfoeleirin).
Esgair is set the end of a long steep drive off the Machynlleth to Corris road. In 1828 a Captain Brett lived at "Esgir", and writer and novelist Berta Ruck (1879-1978) grew up there. From the 1950s, though, she lived in Aberdyfi. She was a prolific writer, publishing more than 100 books over the course of her long life, including a large number of novels, and her family history in various volumes from 1967. Her husband, well-known ghost story writer Oliver Onions (1873-1961), wrote many such books, but one in particular - "The Beckoning Fair One" - is apparently considered by many to be the best ghost story ever written. He pronounced his name "Own-EYE-ons", but this must still have worried him, because he later changed his name to George Oliver, reportedly to spare his children any embarrassment. The house was empty for much of the latter part of the 20th Century, but is now occupied again.
Elsewhere I've read that in the 1700s an Ann Morris was the heiress of "Esgair Lleferin", and I think that this might be the same Esgair. Later, she married a Richard Matthews; their descendants inherited the estate, and ultimately in 1841 their grand-daughter, Mary Anne Matthews, married Laurence Ruck of Pantlludw, just a few miles down the road.
Esgairweddan (Originally called Plas yn Rofft).
Tradition has it that there was a battle near Pennal between Yorkists, under Harri ap Gwilym, and Lancastrians, under Thomas ap Nicholas. Harri was killed and his body is said to have been buried at Esgairweddan. Be that as it may, much later a family of Prices lived at Esgairweddan, until the last of the line, Robert Price, died in 1702. The estate came into the hands of Humphrey Edwards of Talgarth, followed in succession by his son, Lewis Edwards, grandson Humphrey Edwards, then great grandson Lewis Edwards (1748-1797). Lewis Edwards's daughter Frances (1790-1828) married the then Cdr (later Capt) Charles Thomas Thruston RN (d. 1858), and they had a son, Charles Frederick Thruston. Captain Thruston's second wife, Eliza (d. 1840), daughter of Admiral Thomas Sotheby (1759-1831), the younger brother of the author William Sotheby (1757-1833), produced a son, Clement Arthur Thruston. (See also Pennal Tower and Plas Talgarth.)
Fron-y-Gog is at the top of a steep driveway that emerges from the slopes of Gallt-y-Gog down to Garth Lane, Machynlleth. It was occupied by Humphrey Jones-Evans in 1842, and by a Joseph Evans in 1887.
Fronfelen can be seen in the bottom of the Dulas Valley, just south of Corris. Davis Pugh Evans, gentleman, lived there in 1828; for a time in the 1960s it was a country house hotel owned by the Allen family, and today it's a care home run by Community Careline Services.
The house is in the Llyfnant Valley, near Glaspwll, off the Machynlleth to Aberystwyth road. In 1844, Garthgwynion was owned by Thomas Evans, in 1854 a Mr M E Lewis, and Owen Owen purchased the house by auction in 1906. His son, Harold Owen Owen was living there in 1921, and in 1932 Arthur Owen Owen was the occupier. Until recently it was the home of the Vice Lord Lieutenant of Powys, Capt Richard Lambert, CBE RN DL.
Gelligoch, a farmhouse set back just off the Machynlleth to Derwenlas road, was the birthplace of Hugh Williams, a man destined to become a poet, a Carmarthen lawyer, a member of the Chartist Movement, and some say the driving force behind the Rebecca riots. He was born on 18 Feb 1796, the third son of Hugh and Eleanor Williams. His father was known as Captain Hugh, although he had no military connections, his title being that commonly used for the owner of a lead mine, as at one stage he owned the mines up at Dylife. Later in his life Captain Hugh moved to 36, Maengwyn St., Machynlleth, and he's buried in the graveyard of St. Peter's Church.
Glandyfi "Castle" is well-hidden above the main Machynlleth to Aberystwyth road at Glandyfi. It was the home of George Jeffreys (1789-1868), who owned lands along the Dyfi and some of its tributaries. He and his wife, Justina (1786-1869), are buried in the churchyard of St. Michaels Church, Eglwysfach, and there's a memorial to his second son, also George (1820-1848), inside the church. I believe that it was his son, Charles, and a Robert Jeffreys who emigrated to New Zealand in 1853, bought a 100 acre estate near Christchurch which they named Bryndwr, and they used the name Glandovey Rd - which still exists to this day. They returned to Wales on inheriting Glandyfi Castle. An Edward Jeffreys was mentioned as "of Glandovey" in 1869. Lady Docker owned the place briefly in the early 1900s.
See Plas Machynlleth.
Gwynfryn Hall/Plas Gwynfryn.
This large house on the back road between Llangynfelyn and Taliesin, complete with a neat lodge at the end of its drive, was the home of William Tilsley Jones, a magistrate, who was High Sheriff for Cardiganshire in 1838. He is noted in the 1841/51/61 census returns as living there with his family and four servants. By this latter date he was recorded as a JP and Deputy Lieutenant for Cardiganshire.
Farmer Charles Jeffreys, his family, and four servants were in residence by 1871, and I wonder if this Charles Jeffreys was one of the Jeffreys of nearby Glandyfi Castle. The house was "To Let" in 1881, and by 1891 Eliza Alice Brittan, a widow living on her own means, had moved in with her three young daughters plus a housemaid, laundry maid, an ostler/coachman/groom, a cook, and a maid.
William Tilsley Jones's son, William (1822-1897), who was later to become the Rt. Rev. William Basil Jones, Lord Bishop of St. David's, and his daughter, Dorothea Jones, lived at the house for many years. William Basil Jones was educated at Shrewsbury School and Trinity College, Oxford. Over the period 1848-51 he was General Secretary for the Cambrian Archaeological Association. After various religious appointments he became Bishop of St.David's in 1874, and took up his seat in the House of Lords in 1878, holding the position of chaplain of the house until 1882. Apparently there's an 1882 painting of him in his bishop's robes still hanging at Gwynfryn Hall. He died in 1897, being buried in the family vault in Llangynfelyn church.
Dorothea Jones (1828-1885) was a writer, often writing under the name of "Gwynfryn". She wrote the children's stories "Friends in Fur and Feather" in installments for magazines of the time, and "The Otter's Story".
There's a record of the Bishop's wife still living at the hall in 1901, but in 1914 a Major Francis Montagu Beaumont was living there, although by this time the house was under the trusteeship of a Mr. Loxdale (and Loxdale was the Bishop's wife's family name). By 1920 a Ralph Howard Foster was in residence, and by 1943 a Mrs. Griffin.
By 1969 there were "hens and peacocks at Gwynfryn Hall, Taliesin", but one must assume also humans. The hall is advertised on the Internet nowadays as being occupied by a Llangynfelin Community Councillor, it having being variously used as a hotel, the business address for a clothing business, a private Residential Care Home, and something to do with the Aberystwyth Cats Protection League. What a chequered history!
Lapley Grange/Plas Einion.
Approached off the main road at Furnace via a winding driveway between a couple of impressive pine trees and a wall that's about to fall down, Lapley Grange was built in 1904 by a Miss Paddock "apparently to the specification of her dolls' house", and whose family originated from the village of Lapley, Staffs. Miss Paddock must have been related to George Paddock, JP, of Ynyshir Hall (see below), and apparently "used to look across the valley and think what a wonderful site for a house that bit of the valley would make. The builders had to dynamite it out of the rock, and the terrace at the front is built upon rubble". A vicar lived there at some stage after Miss Paddock, and then a retired colonel, but then in 1943 Mr. and Mrs. Ivor Cross founded a private school which continued successfully until the early 1970s. It was then bought by the Sir John Cass Foundation, who used it for some years as a holiday home for inner city children, and nowadays it has been converted into flats, where a number of small companies seem to have their registered business addresses.
Llugwy is some way off the main Machynlleth to Pennal road, down towards the banks of the Dyfi. The Anwyl family lived there from 1682, when Maurice Anwyl married Joan, heiress of the estate. A succession of Anwyls followed: Jonathan Bunce Anwyl of Lligwy [sic], Dep Lieutenant & JP for Merioneth, JP for Montgomeryshire, and Captain on the Royal West Montgomeryshire Militia, died in 1852 aged 63, unmarried. By the time of the 1881 Census, the master of the house was given as a Robert S.Harrison, retired colonel of the 80th Regiment, who lived there with his wife Fanny and brother-in-law Edward Jwyoram, a retired Bengal Army colonel. However, a Bessie Anwyl, Lligwy [sic], contributed funds to Pennal church in 1903 and Robert Charles Anwyl, Lligwy, died in 1933, aged 83. Maurice Ifan Hamilton Anwyl, of Lligwy, Capt Royal Welsh Fusiliers, only son of R.C.Anwyl and Harriet Anwyl, died in 1942.
Llwyn Celyn was once part of the Rhiwlas estate, and is reached via a short winding road which passes between large hollybushes (hence the name) just off the Machynlleth-Aberystwyth road between Eglwysfach and Glandyfi. Guy de Laval Landon OBE MC, Colonel RA Retired, and his family lived there at one stage, and he died in 1968. A window in Eglwysfach church was erected by Mrs Guy de Laval Landon and her daughter of Llwyn Celyn "in deepest gratitude for the Peace of God during the war years 1940 - 45". Pleasant woodland gardens have been developed by the present owners, and once in a while they are open to the public.
Llynlloedd is approached via a lane off Maengwyn St, Machynlleth, which winds through fields adjacent to the Plas. It was occupied in 1609 by Rowland Owen, Mayor of Machynlleth, who in 1611 became High Sheriff of Montgomery. He died in 1635, and according to a panel above the doorway to St. Peter's Church a "Roland Owen of Llynlloed, Esqr, left by his last Will the Interest of Forty Pounds to the Poor of this Town and Parish and the same to be yearly distributed by the Minister & Churchwardens on St. Andrew's day for ever". It's reported somewhere else - and I can't find the reference now - that US President Richard Nixon was descended from him. A John Jones of Llynlloedd died in 1799, and in 1828 a Mrs. Griffiths lived there. The 1844 Tithe Maps indicate that Llanlloedd [sic] was part of the Greenfields estate, and hence owned by Sir John Edwards, Bart. In 1887 the occupier was a Richard Gillart. The Fenwick family have farmed at Llynlloedd for at least the last 40 years or so.
Just on the outskirts of Tre'r Ddôl, Lodge Park was once a medieval deer park, originally called Bod Frigau, and apparently part of the northern boundary ditch and bank can still be seen in the woods, but I've not had a chance to explore it yet. The house itself is reached via a private drive from the main road, and is completely hidden from view from the main road.
At some stage the land came into the ownership of the Pryse family of Gogerddan, who owned vast tracts thereabouts. Richard Pryse was created 1st Baronet of Gogerddan in 1641, and Lodge Park was built during the time of one of his sons, Carbery - later Sir Carbery - Pryse. A Mrs Powell of Nanteos wrote in "A Hunting Diary" in 1926: "Lodge Park is modern by the side of Gogerddan and Nanteos, built as it was in the 17th century by Lady Pryse during the prolonged absences of Sir Carbery Pryse in London, whither he was called by parliamentary business. It is a curiosity among houses, the walls being of earth six feet thick. Sir Carbery Pryse, as already said, hunted the family pack for some years about the end of the seventeenth century; the keenest of the keen, he once, in 1693, rode from London to Lodge Park, over 200 miles in forty-eight hours, bent on a day of sport". Elsewhere this ride is said to have been in delight at his winning a 10 year dispute with the Crown over the ownership of a mine on his estate. Sir Carbery died 1694, but his descendants maintained a presence at Lodge Park for many generations.
Edward Loveden owned the place in 1779, as he had married Margaret Pryse. On inheriting the Gogerddan estate, he changed his name to Pryse Pryse, and the 1841 census shows Pryse Pryse and family in residence with his family and 7 servants. By 1851 Thomas Bonsall, "Annuitant", was recorded there, together with his wife and 4 servants. In 1859, Henry Charles Fryer, 28, bachelor and Gentleman of Lodge Park, and son of William Fryer, Gentleman, was married to Margaretta Jane Loveden. Witnesses were Edward Lewis Pryse and Pryse Loveden. "A Hunting Diary" states that in 1869 Col Pryse of Lodge Park was Master of Foxhounds, and that a Mr. and Mrs. Fryer were "of Lodge Park". The 1871 census shows only 4 servants in residence, but a record for 1872 mentioned that Pryse Pryse Pryse lived there, keeping up with the tradition of maintaining a pack of hounds. The 1881 census confirms that Henry Charles Fryer, JP and Deputy Lieutenant for Cardiganshire BA lived there with his family and 7 servants - cook, parlourmaid, housemaid, dairymaid, kitchen maid, coachman and stableboy.
In 1891, Pryse P Pryse, magistrate, was head of the family living at Lodge Park, along with his wife Louisa Pryse, and sisters in law Rosalie and Winifred Howell, plus a cook, housemaid, kitchenmaid, parlourmaid, groom, 2 x undergrooms, a gardener and a kennelman. Kelly's 1895 Directory of South Wales mentions that "Lodge Park is the seat of Pryse Pryse Pryse Esq.; the mansion is a stone edifice, in a park of 100 acres, and commands fine views of the surrounding country; Sir Pryse Pryse Bart. and the Bishop of St. David's are the chief landowners".
PPP died in 1900 from blood poisoning from a fox bite, and the 1910 and 1914 editions of Kelly's Directory reported it to be the home John James Esq, JP. In 1910, Louisa Pryse was said to be the occupier, and Sir Edward Webley Parry Pryse Bart, the owner.
It was put up for sale along with other parts of the Gogerddan estate in 1930. "By order of Sir Lewes T. Loveden Pryse, Bart, Lodge Park, a very old family house with interesting historical associations, occupying a high position in a beautifully wooded park of over 100 acres, commanding magnificent views, together with Lodge, Buildings etc."
A Mr. Musty lived there in the 1960s, and the house is still occupied as a private residence. Coniferous forest that had been planted on the estate is now being harvested, and deciduous trees planted in their place.
Mathafarn is a farmhouse on the Llanwrin road, near the bridge over the Dyfi. Dafydd Llwyd owned Mathafarn in 1485, when the Earl of Richmond (late to become King Henry VII) stayed there the night before the battle of Bosworth Field. Hugh ap Evan of Mathafarn (1530-1589) was recorded there and a whole dynasty of Pughs followed on as Stewards and latterly Lords of the Manor:
1561 - his son John ap Hugh was in residence.
1573 - John's son Rowland Pugh recorded as owning lands at Mathafarn.
1579 - Rowland Pugh born at Mathafarn, eldest son of Richard ap John ap Hugh. He graduated from Jesus College, Oxford, in 1597 and became a student of the Inner Temple in 1598. He sat for Cardigan in 1624 and was Steward of Cyfeiliog in 1625, High Sheriff of Montgomery in 1626, of Merioneth in 1631, and of Cardigan in 1631. He married Elizabeth, second daughter of Sir Richard Pryse of Gogerddan and later Mary, daughter of James Lewes of Coedmawr. 1636 - Rowland Pugh still at Mathafarn.
1644 - the house was burnt down by parliamentary forces because of Rowland Pugh's loyalty to crown, and he died very soon afterwards.
1664 - John Pugh awarded lordship of Cyfeiliog for his and his father Rowland's services to the crown.
Early 1700s - John's grandson Rowland succeeded. His daughter married Thomas Pryse of Gogerddan; their son John Pugh Pryse died unmarried and Mathafarn was acquired by the Watkin Williams Wynn estate.
Morben Hall (See Plas Morben).
|It's gone now, and an uninspiring housing estate has been built over its grounds, but during the latter stages of the 20th Century it served as Machynlleth's "Old Folks' Home". In the late 1800s it had been built and was occupied by one Sackville Phelps, gentleman, clearly a person of some substance in the area, who associated with the local fox hunting gentry, according to notes in a book written of the era.|
He was born in Kent in 1821, a son of Rev Thomas Prankherd Phelps, vicar of Torrington, Hereford, and latterly of Haddenham, near Thame, Oxfordshire, and Jane, daughter of Sackville Lupton of Thame. Sackville married Matilda Goodall in Aylesbury in 1844. Matilda, born in 1811, was the last of 16 children of Rev. William and Rebecca Goodall, of Dinton Hall, Bucks. William had become Lord of the Manor of Dinton through his marriage to Rebecca, and was the local JP. Sackville and Matilda were living at Dinton Hall with his widowed mother-in-law, Rebecca, at the time of the 1851 census.
The next mention I can find of him was in 1861, when he was living in Maengwyn St, Machynlleth (possibly Maengwyn House). Matilda died in Machynlleth on 9 Apr 1867, and a stained glass window was installed at the church of St. Peter & Paul, Dinton that same year, dedicated to her by "Sackville Phelps of Machynlleth", according to the manufacturer's records. Matilda's will left "£100 to be invested and income applied by the vicar of Dinton and the owner of Dinton Hall in the distribution of coals to poor and aged widows and spinsters".
Sackville was reported in 1873 as proposing that the building of Machynlleth's Town Clock be proceeded with, and from that I deduce that he was probably a member of the Town Council. He was married again in Marylebone in 1874, to Jane Scott, eldest daughter of John Darlington of Alison Hall, Lancaster. In 1876 he chaired a meeting of the Montgomeryshire District of the Turnpike Trust, and at that time was stated as being "of Newlands". His second wife died in 1877. In 1881 he gave £100 towards the building of Christ Church, Machynlleth, and in 1886 he bought 6 plots of land "for property purposes" for £450 at an auction at the White Lion. Sackville's name appears in some records in 1890 that reflect the fact that he was at that time elected as a Machynlleth churchwarden, narrowly beating Non-Conformist Richard Rees. He was still living at Newlands during the time of the 1901 Census, but died on 24 Dec that year, aged 80, and leaving an estate in excess of £12,000. He's buried in St. Peter's churchyard, along with his second wife, in a prime position right next to the family graves of the Londonderrys.
Pant Glas, a farmhouse at the end of a steep road leading up from Tre'r Ddôl, had an unremarkable history until 1960. The successive census returns show that it was occupied in turn by Elizabeth Thomas in 1841, Humphrey Jones, farmer, and his family in 1851, Erasmus Evans and his wife in 1861, Edward Thomas and family in 1871, Richard Lewis and family in 1881, and Edward Hughes, lead miner, and family in 1891. A John James lived there from the early 1920s, but then Miss Elma M. Williams appeared on the scene, buying the house in about 1960.
She was an author with many novels to her name, but she shot to fame when she wrote "Valley of Animals" in 1963, based upon her experiences with her animals at the farmhouse, and later in 1970 "The Pant Glas Story". The place became immensely popular with her readership, and she reported hundreds of people visiting her to see for themselves the place and animals she enthused about. She established Sunday "Open Days" for her fans, and appeared several times on television, including the "Tonight" programme and one of Johnny Morris's popular animal programmes. She even went so far as to construct a little outdoor chapel at Pant Glas dedicated to the patron saint of animals, St. Francis of Assisi.
She had an ambitious scheme to build what we would now call sheltered accommodation for the elderly on the lower fields of her property, where people could retire with their pets, but ran into trouble with Cardiganshire County Council, which she maintains refused her Planning Permission. She further wrote that the Rt Hon George Thomas, Secretary of State for Wales came to her assistance and reportedly reversed their decision, and her book ends with just the little matter of access to be overcome. However, she died prematurely and the houses were never built.
During Elma Williams's period at Pant Glas, Professor of Music at Aberystwyth University, Ian Parrott, wrote "The Pant Glas Idyll", for instruments including piano, violin and glockenspeil, and which was performed at least once in concert.
Nowadays, Pant Glas is the home of spiritual healer Michael Chapman, son of famed healer the late George Chapman.
Pantlludw is up a steep drive off the Machynlleth to Aberdyfi road, not far from Dyfi Bridge, and is well hidden from the main road. I'd pondered over the name (Ashes Hollow? - didn't seem to make any sense until the owner suggested it might have something to do with charcoal burning). Some old maps show it as Pant-lledydwr (Hollow of the breadth of water - perhaps feasible, but still a bit clumsy), and I'm told that other sources have the name Pant-llwyd-wy (possibly a corruption of Pant-llwyd-dwr = Grey Water Hollow). In 1828 a Lt. Richard Jones RN lived there, as did a Mrs Matthews, whom I'm told was the mother-in-law or possibly the grandmother-in-law of Lawrence Ruck. Lawrence originally came from Kent and married into the local Matthews family. He was one of a group of local "men of substance" who fought successfully for a railway line to be driven through to the area from Newtown in 1863. Francis Darwin, Charles Darwin's son, married Amy Richenda Ruck, Lawrence's daughter. Francis (1848-1925) was a botanist, who certainly stayed at Pantlludw on a number of occasions, and there's evidence that Charles wrote to his son at Pantlludw in 1873. After obtaining his BA from Cambridge he collaborated with his father on several botanical projects. He became a lecturer in botany at Cambridge and latterly a reader. He was made President of the British Association for the Advancement of Science in 1908 and knighted in 1913.
Pantlludw was known locally as "The littlest house which sends out the tallest men", and there is an ancient yew tree there mentioned in an 1897 book, "The Yew Trees of Great Britain & Ireland". Back in those years it was said to have a girth of 30 feet, and I've now had confirmation that it is still very much alive, and needing regular pruning to stop it outgrowing its location. If you take a close look at a detailed Ordnance Survey map, you'll see a tiny lake named Llyn Ruck just above Pantlludw, which i'm told was dug for fishing/boating.
Playwright N.C.Hunter was a latter day tenant of Pantlludw, who apparently did much of his writing during his time there. Very successful during the 1950s and early 60s, he died in 1971, and is buried in the little chapel in Eglwysfach, a few miles down the road.
The history is a bit confusing, but I'm told that there was a house at the location in 1590, occupied by a family by the name of Price. In 1638 a Thomas Lewis lived there, and in 1723 a daughter of the Lewis family married John Vaughan of Caethle, Tywyn. In 1828 Vaughan Lewis Esq was listed under "Gentry & Clergy" as living there, and Prime minister Sir Robert Peel is said to have stayed at the house in 1845. There's a written reference from the latter part of the 19th Century stating that Mr Vaughan of Penmaen kept a well-respected pack of hounds that hunted the Merionethshire hills.
On Christmas Day, 1871 - "Miss Davies, Penmaen Dovey, distributed many tons of coal among the poor".
The 1891 Census shows John Lascelles and his wife, Mary Elizabeth, living "on their own means" at Penmaendovey, together with their 3 sons and a daughter aged between 8 and 12, attended by 3 servants. There's a plaque in Pennal church recording the death of one of the sons, Lieut Reginald George Lascelles, who drowned at Cannanore in 1904 aged 21; of Mary Elizabeth who died in 1917; and the death of another son, Arthur Moore Lascelles, who was killed in action in Fontaine, France, on 7 November 1918, whilst an Acting Captain in the 3rd Bn., The Durham Light Infantry, British Army, attd. 14th Bn. He had previously been awarded the VC: "On 3 December 1917 at Masnieres, France, during a very heavy bombardment Captain Lascelles, although wounded, continued to encourage his men and organize the defence until the attack was driven off. Shortly afterwards the enemy attacked again and captured the trench, taking several prisoners. Captain Lascelles at once jumped on to the parapet and followed by his 12 remaining men rushed across under very heavy machine-gun fire and drove over 60 of the enemy back. Later the enemy attacked again and captured the trench and Captain Lascelles, who later managed to escape in spite of having received two further wounds.
John Lascelles died in 1931, aged 82, and a family by the name of Ormond were later in residence. Nowadays it's a country house hotel-cum-leisure/adventure complex - see http://www.penmaendyfi.co.uk/
Pennal Lower Hall (see also Pennal Tower).
I'm confused over the distinction between Pennal Tower and Pennal Lower Hall: are they one and the same? Must check locally. The 1881 Census reports that Pennal Lower Hall was occupied by William James Morris, retired colonel of the Madrass Army, his wife Alice, daughter Alice, son George, and brother George, ex-Indian Civil Service. Elsewhere it is stated that in 1882 a daughter was born at Pennal Tower to Colonel Morris and his wife.
Pennal Tower (see also Pennal Lower Hall).
Pennal Tower mansion was built in the 1850s, and the Pennal Tower estate created out of the existing Talgarth estate, probably to provide the second son of Capt Charles Thomas Thruston, Clement Arthur Thruston, with lands of his own. Clement Arthur Thruston succeeded to Pennal Tower in 1858 on his father's death. He married Constance Sophia Margaret, daughter of Major-General Lechemere-Coore Russell of Ashford Hall, Shropshire. Their eldest son, Edmund Heathcote Thruston, was born in 1863, and other children were Arthur Blyford, Marion and Olwen. On Christmas Day, 1871, Mr. Clement A. Thruston, Pennal Towers, "kindly gave to most of the families of the place a large quantity of wood". Henry Rodgers, said to be an "essayist and apologist" died at Pennal Tower in 1877. Edmund Thruston inherited the estate in 1883 on his father's death.
Beatrix Potter, when she visited the area as a young girl in 1888, wrote: "House we went to see, Pennal Tower, in a wilderness. Widow, Mrs. Thruston, alarming result and warning of living in the wilds."
In 1895 Edmund Thruston attempted to auction the estate in order to set up a trust, but it failed to sell and was let for a number of years to the McNair family. The 1901 Census shows retired Army Maj Peter C Brown living there with his family and servants. Edmund's brother, Major Arthur Blyford Thruston, was killed in October 1897 in an uprising at Fort Luburan in Uganda. There's a memorial in Pennal Church to 'Commander Edmund Wybergh Thruston D.S.C., Royal Navy, elder son of Edmund Heathcote and Lucy Thruston of Pennal Tower. Born Dec. 1903. Married Nina Nisbet Jan. 20 1940. While Second in Command of HMS Sydney, he was lost with all hands in her after a successful engagement with the enemy off Western Australia Nov. 20th 1941 aged 37 years'.
The gardens are occasionally open to the public. (See also Plas Talgarth and Esgairweddan.)
The Plas was recorded as far back as 1624, when it was the home of a Sir John Lloyd, serjeant-at-law. It was still in use as a farmhouse at the end of the 19th Century, but part-demolished in the 1920s. The Forestry Commission continued the demolition job on the remaining oldest part in 1975, leaving only later additions.
Charles Tamberlane Astley was born at Cwmllecoediog, near Aberangell, in 1825. He was educated at Jesus College, Oxford and took Holy Orders in 1849. He had various appointments in England and Wales as vicar, rector or minister, and became known as a hymn translator. However, the family left the area for Canada (John William Astley of Cwmllecoediog died in 1857, aged 45, in St. Thomas Shanty Bay, Ontario, Canada, followed by Francis Astley, also of Cwmllecoediog, who died in 1859 aged 41.)
Some time before 1854 a Henry Foskett was in residence at Cwmllecoediog; it was he who built the fish lake. In 1866 a William Walton lived there, and James Walton in 1873. Sir Frederic Bennet (1918-2002), barrister, company director and Tory MP, lived there (although he also had a castle at Kingsweir, Devon) during the latter half of the 20th Century. Educated at Westminster school, he became a barrister at Lincoln's Inn in 1946. He was elected as MP for Reading North in 1951, lost the seat to Ian Mikardo in 1955, but promptly gained the safe Torquay seat, which he held for 36 years. He was Parliamentary Private Secretary to Reginald Maudling at the Ministry of Supply at one stage, was knighted in 1964, joined the privy council in 1985 and retired in 1987.
Edmund Buckley of Gratton Hall, Yorkshire and Ardwick, Lancashire, purchased the estate and lordship of Dinas Mawddwy from the Mytton family in 1856, in whose possession it had been since the time of King John. He passed on the estate and lordship of Dinas Mawddwy to his nephew, Edmund Peck, who changed his name to Edmund Buckley and assumed the arms of Buckley in 1864. He was created a baronet in 1868, and as Sir Edmund Buckley, 1st Baronet of Llandovery, MP, (1834-1910), poured money into the building of Plas Dinas, which was completed by 1872. A contemporary record tells of the house being "a perfect palace, splendidly furnished" and "princely hospitality".
He bought up large tracts of land and expanded the estate to about 11,000 acres, and also part-funded the building of the 6.75 mile standard gauge Mawddwy Railway, which connected with the main Cambrian line at Cemmaes Road. The railway opened around about 1866. He contributed much to the well-being of the area, sponsoring various new buildings and services, including a hotel at Dinas which was named in his honour - the Buckley Arms, now re-named the Buckley Pines. He became deeply involved in local slate quarrying, which for a time seems to have been profitable, and an important source of local employment. However, a downturn in the industry and a failure of some of his other business interests led to his financial downfall in 1876, and most of the estate was sold by 1883. His eldest son, also named Edmund (b. 1861), established the Buckley Otter Hounds, which it seems had a fair degree of fame, and produced the first Welsh Terrier Dog Champion - "Buckley Mawddwy Nonsuch" - at the 1888 Kennel Club show. The Mawddwy Railway fell into disrepair and, despite an attempt to resuscitate it, closed in 1908. It was revived in 1911, too late for Sir Edmund, who had died a year earlier. In 1917, the Plas burnt to the ground, having been unoccupied for years. The railway was taken over by the GWR in 1923, but passenger services ceased a few years later, and the line was closed in 1951.
Plas Dolguog is at the end of a narrow winding lane which leaves the Machynlleth road at Felingerrig and follows the South Dulas river to its confluence with the Dyfi. It is set in 9 acres of grounds, with views over the Dyfi Valley towards the hills. The railway line from Machynlleth to Newtown runs along the bottom of the front lawn, but is hidden below it. The house is possibly named after a 6th Century leader, Cuog, who owned lands hereabouts.
Llewarch Hen (the Old), ancient prince and bard, is supposed to have lived in a hut at Dolguog in the 7th century. He apparently wrote one of the first poetic addresses in the Welsh language - "To the Cuckoo in Abercuawg".
The current house dates from about 1600. Matthew Herbert lived there in 1609, and there's a date stone still present with 1632 inscribed upon it. The Herberts were a powerful family along the Welsh border country, owning properties at Cherbury and Powis Castle as well as at Dolguog. Francis Herbert and his wife Abigail's initials, circa 1750, can be seen at Dolguog. A John Harding lived there in 1702. A new wing of the house was built about 1800, a Rev. Richard Morris Bonnar lived there in 1828, and another wing was added in 1900. It is now a country house hotel, and is being extended.
A Peace Garden has been constructed in the grounds in recent years, and there's much made about the presence of strong ley lines focussing on the house. Ghosts have been reported in the house, and there's also a story that the tip of a 32 ft high monolith is hidden in a dark and sealed cupboard, forming part of a 28 ft stone circle.
One further claim to fame is that a rare species of harebell, Wahenbergia Hederacea (ivy-leaved bellflower), was listed in Gerard's Herbal in 1633 as follows: "This pretty plant was first discovered by Master John Bowles, anno 1632, who found it in Montgomeryshire as one rideth from Dolguog, a gentleman's house, unto a market town called Mahuntleth and is all the way from there to the seaside."
Plas Einion (see Lapley Grange).
See Gwynfryn Hall.
Plas Llwyn Owen.
I've precious little information on this house near Bont Dolgadfan, except that there's a plan to develop a visitor attraction there called "The Judge's Residence", with "mobile audio interpretation". Does this imply that a judge once lived there? Must try to find out more.
The house is on the old Machynlleth to Corris road, just next to the entrance to the Alternative Technology Centre at Pantperthog. It was built in the mid 1700s, and in the mid-1800s it was the home of F. J. Ford Esq., "an agriculturalist". Further checking shows that Francis Johnson Ford, b. 1798, was a son of John Forde of Manchester. At some stage (prior to 1853) he and his wife moved to Plas Llwyngwern, where Francis died aged 62 in 1861. Their son, Capt John Randle Minshull-Ford and wife Florence Helen (née Oldham), continued to live at Llwyngwern. Their son, also John Randle Minshull-Ford (1881-1948), served in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, rising to become commanding officer of the 1st Battalion. He reached the rank of Major-General, was awarded the CB, DSO and MC, and was Lieutenant Governor of Guernsey for just two weeks - just before the German Occupation in 1940.
Later n the 20th Century Plas Llwyngwern was the home of the Hon Ralph Beaumont CBE, the son of Wentworth Canning Blackett Beaumont, 1st Viscount Allendale, and Lady Alexandrina Louise Maud Vane-Tempest, daughter of the 5th Marquess of Londonderry.
The Hon Ralph Beaumont (1901-1977) was educated at Eton and Oxford and was MP for Portsmouth Central 1931-1945. He was J.P. for Montgomeryshire in 1932, Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Postmaster-General 1935-1940, and Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Secretary of State for War 1942-1945. He was made High Sheriff of Montgomeryshire in 1957, Deputy Lieutenant of Montgomeryshire in 1961 and Vice-Lieutenant of Montgomeryshire 1962-1977. His son, John Ralph Beaumont (1927-1992), was also educated at Eton and Oxford. He was a Rhodesia & Nyasaland MP 1962-63 and later became Deputy Lieutenant of Powys, continuing to live and farm at Llwyngwern. Today Llwyngwern is a guest house, surrounded by 4 acres of gardens.
Sometime in the 1700s John Edwards bought an existing property at Greenfields, Machynlleth, which included the soon-to-be-demolished Lledfair Hall, and set about building a new house for himself and his wife, Cornelia. They had a son, John, born in 1770 who inherited the estate on his father's death in 1789 and became Lt Col (Montgomeryshire Militia) Sir John Edwards, 1st Bart., of Dolforgan Hall, Plas Machynlleth, and Garth, Montgomeryshire. He was MP for Montgomeryshire 1833-1841.
Sir John and his wife Harriet had a daughter, Mary Cornelia, born at Greenfields in 1826 and who in 1846 married Sir George Henry Robert Charles William Vane-Tempest, Viscount Seaham, the second son of the Marquis of Londonderry, and great-uncle to Winston Churchill. Initially they lived on their family estate in Durham, as he was MP for North Durham 1847-1854 but, when Sir John Edwards died in 1848, Mary Cornelia inherited the Greenfields estate and they moved to Machynlleth to join her mother. However, in 1872 Sir John's elder brother died with no heir, so they inherited the title (and fortune) of the Marquis and Marchioness of Londonderry, staying on at Greenfields which was renamed Plas Machynlleth.
Their eldest son Charles, Viscount Castlereagh, became the 6th Marquess on his father's death, and assumed the name Vane-Tempest-Stewart. He married Lady Theresa Talbot, daughter of the Earl of Shrewsbury, in 1875, but elected to live in the NE of England. The 7th Marquess had no use for the Plas and ultimately presented it to Machynlleth in 1948, since when it has gone through major changes in use. It was used for many years as council chambers, for various commercial enterprises, as a meeting place for the local Darby and Joan Club, and its outbuildings continued to house the Plas Machynlleth foxhounds. Latterly, this was all swept aside, and for some years it was the home of Celtica, a multi-media exhibition of Celtic cuture. The foxhounds have moved out, and there's some building redevelopment going on at the old coach house/stables/kennels. The Plas grounds are open to the public, and an excellent leisure centre has been built, along with soccer and rugby pitches - a great asset to Machynlleth. The old lodges, North and West Lodge, are private houses.
More on the Londonderrys.
Plas Morben/Morben Hall.
Not to be confused with nearby Morben Isaf, the one-time home of Rowland Evans and his son John, shipbuilders and owners of repute over the latter half of the 19th Century, Plas Morben/Morben Hall is situated just above the Machynlleth-Aberyswyth road, a mile or so south of Derwenlas.
In 1844, "Morben Mawr" was occupied by a John Horridge. Lt Col Wallace, 53rd Regt, is recorded as living at Morben Lodge in 1816, and his eldest daughter, Catherine Esther Wallace, was married to Col William Wynne Apperley, late of the 4th Bengal Light Cavalry Lancers. William Wynne Apperley's father was Maj Charles James Apperley (1778-1843), better known as famous sports writer, "Nimrod". William inherited the Morben estate in 1856 from his aunts the Misses Williams, known locally as "the Ladies of Morben". He died in 1870 at Morben Lodge, leaving a son, Newton Wynne Apperley, to take over Morben. Newton soon became Private Secretary to the Marquis of Londonderry, and had to move to County Durham in order to carry out his duties, and following the Marquis to Ireland in 1886, on his appointment to Viceroy. Capt Newton Wynne Apperley seems to have died in 1925, but had a book published in 1926 entitled "A Hunting Diary" and from this book one can pick up a great deal about the ruling classes of the area in those days.
The Bonsall family was in residence at Morben from at least 1872, and Thomas Bonsall, aged 21, son of Thomas Bonsall, JP, is listed in Alumni Oxoniensis for that year. However, local newspapers of the era frequently showed a Captain Evan Richards of Morben Hall over the period 1874-1881. The Bonsalls were still there in 1895, Mr. T. W. Bonsall is recorded as having distributed coal to the poor of Derwenlas in 1910, and a Mrs. Bonsall lived there in 1917/18.
Kingsley Chappell and his wife Dorothea lived there from 1936 to 1939. He was a retired banker who had worked in India after WW1 before returning to London and then retiring to Machynlleth.
By 1945 Lieutenant Colonel Sir Thomas R. L. Thompson had moved to Morben Hall with his second wife, Ellinor.
During the 1960s it was the home of Dr. Dan Davies (Machynlleth GP) and family.
The house, near the village of Pennal, and with an ancient dolmen in its grounds, was built by Humphrey Edwards, who died in 1772. Cdr Charles Thomas Thruston RN acquired Talgarth through his marriage to Frances (1790-1828), daughter of Lewis Edwards (1748-1797) of Talgarth. He was in residence in 1828, and in 1839 was recorded as Capt C. T. Thruston. On Christmas Day, 1871, "Mrs. Thruston, Talgarth Hall, with her usual liberality, distributed bedclothes and all kinds of wearing apparel to the most deserving poor of the neighborhood". A Frank Gott (1858-1920) is commemorated by a window in Pennal Chruch as being of Talgarth. Nowadays it's an impressive-looking Timeshare and Leisure/Country Club. (See also Esgairweddan and Pennal Tower.)
Plas yn Rofft - see Esgairweddan.
The house is hidden from the road, at the end of a steep uphill driveway from the Machynlleth-Derwenlas road. In 1844 it was owned and occupied by Hugh William Davies. Edward Edwards of Rhiwlas seems to have been the Vicar of Eglwysfach 1865-1887, having obtained his Oxford degree in 1849. In 1887 Queen Victoria's jubilee was celebrated at Derwenlas school, and medals were presented to the children by Mrs. Edwards, Rhiwlas.
Ty'n y Braich.
The Ty'n-y-Braich estate, near Dinas Mawddwy, included Maesglasau and Bryncyrch in the parish of Llangadfan, Montgomeryshire. Evan John William and his wife, Gwen Robert, lived there in the 1700s. Their son, Robert Evan, had to mortgage the estates in 1731 and again in 1741. He died in 1775 and was succeeded by his son, also called Robert Evan, who died in 1812. Sir Edmund Buckley of Plas Dinas bought the estate in 1883.
Although there's much documentation relating to the general Melin-y-Garreg/Garreg Mill site, the history of Voelas Hall itself is obscure. It was called Dyfi Bank in the 1837-40 OS Map, and Dovey Bank in the 1887 and 1909 OS Maps. The large building is situated right next door to Llwyncelyn (see above), and set back no more than about 200m from the main road, just south of Glandyfi, but is well hidden by trees.
In 1791, Edward Jeffreys (of Glandyfi Castle, just down the road) was negotiating the purchase of the land from a Mrs. Skyrme, and by 1794 he had evidently completed this transaction and had leased the site to a Francis Chalmer. Chalmer built a mill - Melin-y-Garreg - on the land, and over the years very extensive reservoirs, millponds and leats were constructed on the property, and the substantial remains of these can still be seen today. What happened to the milling activities isn't clear, neither is it clear how the substantial Voelas Hall came to be built. I believe that it was once lived in by Charles Alured Jeffreys, son of George Jeffreys of Glandyfi Castle, and his wife Clara Ellen. Their daughter Emily Clara was born in 1852 but died at age five months. In 1853 Charles and his wife emigrated to New Zealand but returned many years later upon inheriting Glandyfi Castle (see entry under Glandyfi Castle). D Wolsey Esq lived "in Dyfi Bank" in 1854; in 1871, it was occupied by Christiana Jones, a gentlewoman from London; and in 1881 by Harriet B. Manley, from Warwick, was "living in own property". I've not yet searched the 1891 or 1901 censuses. The 84 acre estate was sold in 1946.
Wallog is situated at the end of a long narrow lane from a minor road linking Borth and Llangorwen, which ends at a private beach. James Morice, a local landowner, lived at Wallog in 1839, and by 1876 the Sheriff of the County of Cardigan, George Griffiths Williams, was in residence. In 1884 he had the role of Commanding Officer of the Royal Cardiganshire Artillery Militia, holding the rank of Lt. Col.. By 1895 it was the home of John Francis, a County Magistrate. A Mrs M. Ann Hughes died in Cardiff in 1938 aged 75, being the daughter of the late Mr. and Mrs. William Daniel, Wallog. The restored remains of a limekiln can be seen from the coastal path but, other than this scant knowledge, Wallog remains a bit of a mystery to me. The legendary Sarn Cynfelyn stretches out into Cardigan Bay from this point.
Ynyshir Hall is approached from the Machynlleth - Aberystwyth road at Eglwysfach, sharing access with the track to the RSPB Reserve. Parts of the hall date back to the 15th Century, but its first recorded owner was David Lloyd, who lived there in the 17th Century. John Lloyd, his son, had the Eglwysfach church built, and the family crest can still be seen at the church. The house passed into the hands of the Knowles family, and Thomas Knowles was later to become Mayor of Cardigan in 1693 and High Sheriff in 1698. His daughter inherited Ynyshir, and she sold the house to its tenant at the time, John Hughes. He in turn sold it during the 1700s to a Matthew Davies from the nearby Cwmcynfelyn estate, and Matthew became High Sheriff of Cardiganshire in 1790.
The house remained in this family for some time, until Queen Victoria acquired it. She had it refurbished and put a lot of effort into establishing the gardens, with many of the trees she had planted still being in evidence today. A. G. W. Cosins lived there in 1874, and George Paddock, JP, DI, seems to have died there in 1895. At the end of the 19th Century, a Major Taunton bought the property; he became High Sheriff of Cardiganshire in 1903. He sold it on in 1921 to Oliver Cross, the son of a Lancashire mill-owning family, and in 1928 it was sold to William Hubert Mappin. Mr. Mappin went to work on the gardens, and on his death in 1966 he sold 1000 acres of the estate to the RSPB, to establish the bird reserve that still exists there today - much to the disgust of the shooting parties who had visited the area for generations. Soon after this, the house in its remaining 14 acres of grounds was converted into a hotel by Welsh amateur golf champion, Sam Roberts. It went through a succession of owners until being purchased by the current owners, Rob and Joan Reen, who since 1989 have turned it into a country house hotel of exceptional standards. See http://www.ynyshir-hall.co.uk/