Thursday, 16 September 2021

Nearly 100 photos later . . .

 


My birthday this year was, again, in Lockdown and so I decided to defer my Birthday Day Out until later in the year.  I was beginning to think it would be forgotten, when K and I decided we needed a day out, and Tam was away at a friend's wedding (with her young man).  We booked to go to Plas Newydd at Llangollen in Denbighshire. It's about 2 hours' drive from here. It's somewhere I've always wanted to go - in fact, since I was in my 20s, so it's only taken me nearly 50 years to get there!  K and I had lunch there too - cheese and ham toasties which more than filled us up until teatime.  They have a little cafe in the old stables and stable-yard.


As you may have guessed, the new header photo is Plas Newydd in its beautiful setting, and up above it on the hill, is Castle Dinas Bran.  Plas Newydd is famous for being where the Two Ladies of Llangollen lived.  They were very close friends who escaped from a boring family life - Coflein says they "eloped together" but apparently there is no evidence that they were actually lesbians and it was something they vigorously denied when someone suggested it in later years.


Sarah Ponsonby and Eleanor Butler began renting what started out as a fairly ordinary Welsh 2 story Welsh cottage called Pen-y-Maes in 1778, and over the years improved it by getting a craze for the Gothic and embellishing almost every surface with carvings from churches and old furniture, which was available when churches were demolished or fell down from lack of maintenance.   Many of the carvings were gifts from visitors and friends, but they were also able to buy cartloads of them cheaply and a local handyman put them together as best he could fit them.  




This door was put together and like all the outside pieces, weatherproofed by painting black.


In some areas, painted leather had been used for decoration.  I've seen this at Hellens, an old house at Much Marcle which were visited on another birthday outing some 15 years or so back now.


You know when these carvings are bestiary beasts, as they have forked tongues. These look like Maned Slugs with Attitude!


I loved this engraving.  I think it may be a bear on the left (but don't quote me on it) but I stupidly got in too close so didn't get the entire panel.  On the right is a Lion.  When this was carved, I think there was a verbal instruction, "OK, I want a Lion.  Yes, I know you've never seen one, but just imagine a very big pussy cat with a cross face, and lots of hair on its neck and shoulders."  I just love its expression - it looks like it's seen a ghost!


Part of another Lion, and beautiful carvings up the staircase.


A Wainscot type chair completely made from carvings.  I like the fierce face at the top of the back beneath the canopy.


Another beastie with a forked tongue.  There were quite a few in various guises through the house.


This was the stained glass insert in the window of the Ladies' bedroom.   Fragments (some of them early Medieval) were used throughout the house, and the photo at the top of the page here, was taken up in the attic bedroom of their servant, Mary Caryll, who had helped them escape from Ireland and was loyal to the end. She is buried with them.


A Satyre I believe.


A pair of matching solid Walnut chairs in the Ladies' bedroom.  Keith loved these (work  in solid Walnut is SO rare - there must have been a fallen tree someone put to good use).  He was even measuring them up and saying, "They work just as well in Oak" - and we happen to have some big oak planking here . . .



Finally, for today, a painting of the Ladies towards the end of their lives.

19 comments:

  1. What an enchanting place to visit. Thank you so much for sharing it with us all.

    God bless.

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    1. It was a truly special day out. Living in Carmarthenshire meant we didn't get much of a chance to visit places like this (2 hours from the English border for starters). Now we're in Powys, this was 2 hours away, so doable for a day out.

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  2. Beautiful, thank you for your wonderful photos. I always love to read your blog posts but for some reason my comments will not post. We’ll see how this one goes.

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    1. Hi Gardener - you got through this time. Glad you enjoyed the photos.

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  3. What an amazing place!
    Thank you for sharing all the photos

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    1. There are more photos to come. It was really special day out - because I'd wanted to go here most of my life and also chances to go anywhere like this in the past coupleof years were severely limited due to Covid restrictions.

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  4. What a wonderful place to visit - oh gosh I would love to go there. Thanks so much for all the lovely photos - so much to love there. The stained glass and THAT door are goregous. The carvings from the bestiary are just amazing. Oh goody more photos to come :)

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    1. You will have to sweet-talk your hubby. It's worth the journey. I'll try and put some more photos up tonight. It is VERY much your sort of place.

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  5. Love your new header and all the photos of the place in your post. All those carvings! Glad you finally had your birthday outing and that it was to such a marvelous place.

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    1. Mary, it was SUCH a special day - the weather made it perfect, but having waited for so long, and been held back from going anywhere like this because of Covid restrictions, it was all the more special.

      A real day to remember.

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  6. What a fantastic place! Thank you so much for sharing them. I'm glad you got to visit...I think you'd waited quite patiently!

    The lion in the ninth photo looks like he's sticking out his tongue!

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    1. Hi mel - I'd better not put up ALL the photos or people would keel over with boredom! I think I was pretty patient as well :)

      I've just looked at the lion, and yes, you're right.

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  7. Wow. The pictures were great, but the idea that you could buy these carvings cheap, by the cartload...oh...BB, I tell you true, I was born in the wrong place, not to mention the wrong time!

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    1. They must have been cheap, as the Ladies were quite poor for many years and perhaps it was a small cart . . . When they were ripping out church interiors I am guessing no value was put on these works of art.

      I'm with you on being born in the wrong time - I've always lived in the past.

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  8. I marvel at the carvings--imagination as well as woodworking skills. I'd love to see Keith replicate the chairs in oak.

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    1. They quite blew me away - and now trying to get inside the Medieval craftsman's mind is blowing MINE! I hope that Keith will be able to do some proper woodwork again, but his right hand has been swollen from the Steroids and/or whatever else that is wrong with his, as yet to be diagnosed. The steroids affected his balance very badly too so at the moment he struggles with any woodworking.

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  9. I visited Plas Newydd quite a few years ago (goodness me, it must be over 16...) with my MiL. It was very interesting.I can't help feeling the carved chair would feel a bit knobby and uncomfortable to sit in...

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  10. Hi there Dormouse - Iam guessing it was built for show rather than use! What a fascinating house though.

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  11. What a wonderful place and story behind it.

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