© This Month - August


There is no lecture in August. The 2018-19 season of lectures starts again in September.

 

The following article can also be seen in the August edition of the Abergavenny Focus


Saved from ruin

When the Landmark Trust stepped in to save a derelict 15th-century farmhouse, a nearby resident was inspired to write a book. Helen Morgan reports:

Llwyn Celyn, built on the Llanthony Estate around 1420 after the Glynd┼Ár rebellion, is one of the oldest surviving domestic houses in Wales. Like the Neuadd at Partrishow and others in the Black Mountains, it was built in stone with high-quality joinery — a mark of wealth and status — but Llwyn Celyn is earlier and more embellished than other known examples. From 1597-1762 it was home to the Watkins and George families, well-to-do copyhold tenants who had hereditary long leases from the Llanthony Estate at low rents. Farm prices were rising in the 16th century and such tenants had the means and motivation to build new houses and modernise older ones. At Llwyn Celyn, in the late 17th century the tenants added a rear kitchen and inserted a ceiling across the hall to create an upper floor. They also built a huge chimney stack to replace the open fire and added a beast house for their livestock, and subsequently a stable, threshing barn, cider house, malt and wheat kilns, and pigsty.

By the mid-18th century, however, the poor began to leave to work in the burgeoning ironworks, quarries and mines around Blaenavon. Then, in the 1870s,  farm prices tumbled with the arrival of cheaper food from the Americas and Australia. The Llanthony Estate changed hands several times, and Llwyn Celyn was bought by its tenants in 1959. By 2007, its plight was desperate and, in 2012, it was saved with help from Cadw and the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The farmhouse will be available as a Landmark Trust holiday let from October, the threshing barn will become a community space, and an information  room with views over the landscape is being created in the beast house. It is not known who built the house but its exceptionally fine joinery confirms that the first resident was a man of status, perhaps a priory official. “It has ogee-headed doors to the service rooms and parlour, remnants of a decorative roof truss, and a fixed bench at the high end of the hall,” says Oliver Fairclough, author of The Llanthony Valley, A Borderland. His book will be on sale from September 19th at £15 in bookshops, through the Llanthony Valley History Group and before the lecture in the Borough Theatre on September 27th.

 

 Photograph by the Landmark Trust

 








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