Purchased in 2006 by the Duchy of Cornwall, Llwynywermod is, amazingly, the first royal home situated in Wales since the time of the English Civil War. A secluded and forgotten estate set tranquilly in the heart of Carmarthenshire, Llwynywermod has been a highly significant and symbolic purchase for The Prince of Wales. This book charts the history of a once great estate and follows a family’s changing fortunes from the sale and subsequent demolition of the mansion house to its recent renaissance.
Hardcover: 220 pages
Publisher: Accent Press Ltd; First Edition edition (10 Nov. 2008)
Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 2.5 x 25.4 cm
This is a beautiful, glossy hardback book, commissioned by the Welsh Historic Gardens Trust and written by Mark Baker. Although still a postgraduate student at Cardiff University, Mark Baker has taken an interest in built heritage since childhood and has an enviable reputation as an author, having now published ten books. A leather-bound copy of this work was presented to TRH The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall at Llwynywermod in February 2008.
Although the area of Myddfai in Carmarthenshire is well known to Welsh people as the home of the Physicians of Myddfai in earlier centuries, few were aware of Llwynywermod until it was purchased by Prince Charles in 2006, as his home in Wales. It has since become the subject of intense interest and speculation. Mark Baker has, with meticulous research and dedication, managed to discover a great deal about the history of the mansion and grounds, the family which built it and lived there over the last two centuries and later owners as the mansion fell into decline and ruin. The mansion is still a ruin having had its stone walls stripped for use elsewhere and suffered vandalism by local youngsters. The buildings which are being renovated are those of the farmhouse, outbuildings and gardens.
The name of the mansion, originally Llwynywormwood, is discussed in detail and makes interesting reading. A family tree of the Williams and Griffies-Williams, original owners, is a great help in following the fortunes of the family, and how the mansion passed down to various members through the generations. The last part of the book records the ‘Fall and Rise of the Estate 1913–2006’ which brings home the importance of the attitude and dedication of owners towards their property when it comes to preservation. Fortunately for Llwynywermod, in 1998 it was purchased by John and Patricia Hegarty, who lived there until 2006. Already experienced restorers of an old property in Herefordshire, they set to, and stripped the farmhouse of recent changes and ‘made it into one of the most comfortable homes in Carmarthenshire’. Purchasing more land and restoring the lake, they made great strides in re-establishing the gardens and grounds, until their retirement.
There are few drawings or pictures of the original mansion available, hardly any of the furniture and fixtures, and very few documents have been found relating to the early years but the author has succeeded in discovering as much about this old Welsh mansion as possible. As he says, more information may come to light as people become aware of the new ownership.
The book is richly illustrated on every page with relevant pictures of the existing buildings, the people who have lived there and the artefacts which have survived.
A review from www.gwales.com, with the permission of the Welsh Books Council.