Friday, 13 November 2009

Edwinsford


Many thanks to John Atherton who took this photograph, and then kindly shared it for re-use through Creative Commons.




In the pigeon-grey gloom of a wet November afternoon, the tall spires of the chimneys of Edwinsford House jabbed into the sky like charcoaled fingers, the gable-ends of the roof dropping their shoulders into the trees which threaten to smother the ruins. A huge gateway,the restored gate house, a sweep of gravel, then it was all just a shimmer in the wing mirror as we sped up the valley.

The estate is beautiful. Once a gentry home of the highest calibre, it is now popular for holidays and the fishing rights along 5 miles of the beautiful Cothi river are promoted, with good reason. Its downfall and ruination began before it housed POWs in WWII, who enterprisingly or otherwise, chose to grow mushrooms beneath the floorboards and hastened its demise. (I cannot reference that, it is just something I have heard oft-repeated in the years of living here).

The earliest part of the present (ruinous) house was constructed in 1635, built in a large square with a central chimneystack. It was known at Edwinsford Uchaf. About 30 years later an extension was added, known as Edwinsford Isaf, had two main rooms on each floor and a garret above it, which was modernised with the addition of dormer windows c. 1710. A small chapel was also built close by, for the convenience of family worship. By 1776, lithographs show a beautiful bridge over the Cothi which took guests to the front of the house. Further additions were added during Victorian times, including ballroom which replaced the chapel.

Francis-Jones* stated that 19 generations of the Williams family lived here. They claimed descent from Hywel Dda and Rhodri Mawr and intermarried into other important Welsh families including the Vaughans of Golden Grove and the Morgans of Tredegar. An advantageous local marriage brought them the Llether Cadfan estate near Broad Oak in Carmarthenshire. Nearby, the battle of Coed Lathan took place in 1257, when the Welsh forces routed those under the command of Stephen Bauzan. At some point, panelling was removed from Llether Cadfan and used at Edwinsford in the dining room.

However, he also states:

"Edwinsford, in the parish of Llansawel, has been from medieval times the seat of a family descended from the Irish chieftain Ideo Wyllt, who, having entered Wales with a force to aid Rhys ap Tewdwr of Deheubarth (killed 1093), married a daughter of that prince, and settled at Edwinsford. Lewis Glyn Cothi composed poems of praise to the family of Rhydodyn who extended generous patronage to the bards. David ap Rhys William of Rhydodyn, died in 1613, was the first to adopt the surname Williams thereafter borne by his descendants. "

If you follow the * link you will see how the house looked in its heyday . . .

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