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NANTEOS TIME LINE


Nanteos, a grand mansion lies deep in the Paith Valley, a square solid Georgian mansion that has stood here for over two hundred and seventy years. In the early centuries Nanteos was called Neuadd Lawdden though it is unknown when the name was changed to the present Nanteos.


Evidence suggests that a dwelling has been on this Nanteos site since the 11th century. Records show that in the 17th century Colonel John Jones and his three daughters lived at Nanteos, John Jones a staunch Royalist defended Aberystwyth Castle against Cromwell during the Civil War, and is buried at Llanbadarn Fawr Church, Aberystwyth. The second daughter Anne married Cornelius Le Brun a German engineer, who worked on the lead and silver mines in the area, and became High Sheriff of Cardiganshire. Their daughter Averina married William Powell of Llechwedd Dyrus in 1699 (Llechwedd Dyrus once stood on the other side of the valley, near where the Nanteos lake is now located).

This Timeline gives a glimpse of life at Nanteos throughout the years, and in contrast what was going on with the rest of the country. It begins with the construction of the building of Nanteos we see today.

  1739


Nanteos had been in the hands of the Powell family 40 years when they decided to build the mansion that stands today, the original house is still in situ beneath the present mansion in the cellar. Sadly there is no record of an architect however the foundation stone was laid, on the 3rd of May 1739, by Thomas and Mary his wife (it is still to be seen today on the East side of the mansion, though rather weather worn).

Foundation Stone located on the

East side of the mansion


Mary’s wealth was certainly an asset to building the vast mansion. The wealthy Frederick family had many dwellings in London, and her Grandfather Sir John Frederick (25 October 1601 - March 1685) was an English merchant, MP and Lord Mayor of London.

Thomas and Mary Powell

 
As plans for Nanteos were being developed; on the other side of the country highway robbery was rife, and the most notorious highwayman had been captured. Dick Turpin was hanged in 1739 for his crimes.

Turpin became the subject of legend after his execution, romanticised as dashing and heroic in English ballads and popular theatre of the 18th and 19th centuries, and in film and television of the 20th century.

Roads were becoming dangerous, and treacherous, and because of the poor quality of the roads in Wales, the gentry began to build improved roads. The Turnpike Trust was established in the mid 1770 and road conditions and safety began to improve. The Powell’s of Nanteos were Turnpike Trust Trustees

 
1757


Reverend William Powell D.C.L. completed the present building of Nanteos. With the sudden death of his brother Thomas Powell in 1752, William took over the estate, and completing the build of Nanteos as the lead drain pipe heads show.

He was educated in St. John’s College Oxford, and was ordained deacon in 1731. And became a Doctor of Civil Law in 1763. He married Elizabeth Owen daughter and co-heiress of Athelstan Owen of Rhiwsaeson Merioneth. He died in 1780 leaving Nanteos to his only son Thomas Powell.

The completion of Nanteos coincided with the demolition of old houses and shops on London Bridge, London bridge has been a busy thoroughfare, and was once lined with houses and shops. The road over the bridge was only about 4m wide between the shops. It was so narrow it often jammed with people, horses and carts. In 1733 a 'keep left' rule was enforced to keep the traffic moving. This became the rule of the road in Britain. A temporary bridge was erected to take traffic while the bridge was being cleared, but this burned down in 1757 and the city was forced to pay for some 40 extra boats to ferry traffic between London and Southwark until improvements on the bridge were completed. The Powells had a town house in London and would have indeed witnessed the demolishtion and prehaps used the ferrying facitily.

 

Looking out in front of Nanteos one can’t help noticing scars in the landscape. These are scars of the original road that once cut through the landscape. Countryside roads in the eighteenth century were in a bad state. An Act of Parliament in 1770 enabled the County of Cardiganshire to establish a Turnpike Trust, of which Powell was a member (as mentioned previously). Powell of Nanteos and Vaughan of Trawscoed, trustees of the Turnpike Trust moved the original road, in 1788 improving the road and giving the residence of the house more privacy, keeping the traffic away from the house.


The South Tollgate house, which was built by the Nanteos Estate in 1771 in Penparcau (2 miles west of Nanteos), the first Gatekeeper was David Jones, and was employed to guard the gate and take toll money for passing through. Tollhouses were unpopular with people who had to pay to travel and to move their livestock along the turnpike roads. There were various toll exemptions including – carrying materials for any road or highway; carrying compost or lime for manure; carrying hay, straw, or corn, passengers on horseback and to and from church or chapel, exemption also included the Nanteos family and servants, but they paid an annual one off payment instead. The Turnpike Trusts were abolished in 1864.The Tollgate House was moved brick by brick in 1959 to St Fagan Museum of Wales in Cardiff, where it can be visited today.

 

Tollgate at St. Fagan, Museum of Wales, Cardiff.

 

The Georgian Gent


William Edward Powell 1788 - 1854
William Powell became Lord of the Manor at an early age with his father Thomas Powell dying suddenly in 1797.Educated at Christ Church Oxford, He was made High Sheriff at the age of 22 and became Lord Lieutenant in 1816.
Horseracing was a large pastime for the Georgian gentleman. William Edward Powell had a Newmarket stud, but had to sell his racehorse at Tattersall’s London, to raise cash, when fell into financial difficulties in 1813.  This must have been a huge disappointment to him.
In the 1800s the Nanteos estate stood at 31,000 acres, and the estate was at its peak. In 1837 he allowed his staff to celebrate Queen Victoria’s coronation with an allowance of ale, in the same year the new stable was built, which still stands today, behind the mansion.
Improvements were made to the estate and he added the portico at the front of the mansion, and commissioned an extension on the east side in 1847, at a cost of £2,880. He married twice, first to Laura Edwyna Phelp, eldest daughter of James Sackville Tufton Phelp, Coston House, Leicestershire, and then in 1841 married Harriet Dell, daughter of Henry Hutton, Cherry Willingham, Lincolnshire.
After serving 38 years as a Member of Parliament and Esquire the Nanteos estate for 45 years William Edward Powell dies in 1854, he was a great loss to the County and was sadly missed by his tenants.

The Victorian Gent
William Thomas Rowland Powell 1815 - 1878
William Thomas Rowland Powell eldest son and heir of William Edward Powell, was a typical Victorian Gent, enjoying the hunting and shooting scene, and a bit of frolicking on the side!
Educated at Westminster; married Rosa Edwyna, daughter of William George Cherry of Buckland, Herefordshire. They had a very rocky marriage, which ended in separation in 1854. They had two children, George and Harriet. Harriet sadly dies of consumption at the age of 13. George never got on with his father. Their relationship got off to a bad start when William Thomas Rowland presented his young son with a shot gun and told him to shoot the first thing he saw. He shot his father’s best prize bull!

William Edward Powell 1788 - 1854

 

He had a liaison with the governess of his children, which is documented amongst the Nanteos papers, which caused quite a stir in the household so much so that a maid at Nanteos had to sign an affidavit alleging improper behavior between Powell and the Governess.

William Thomas Rowland was a Member of Parliament from 1859 until 1865, when he had to resign due to ill health. In later years he was confined to a wheelchair and was pushed around the estate by his trusted servant John Morgan. In fact four wheelchairs were ordered at one time, presumably one for each floor of Nanteos and one for outdoors. An annual event, which Colonel Powell orchestrated from his wheelchair, was the great battle that took place on the front lawn of Nanteos. Hundreds of people would gather, mostly servants and tenants, and following the commands of Colonel Powell, wage war on each

The Victorian Gent


William Thomas Rowland Powell 1815 - 1878
William Thomas Rowland Powell eldest son and heir of William Edward Powell, was a typical Victorian Gent, enjoying the hunting and shooting scene, and a bit of frolicking on the side!
Educated at Westminster; married Rosa Edwyna, daughter of William George Cherry of Buckland, Herefordshire. They had a very rocky marriage, which ended in separation in 1854. They had two children, George and Harriet. Harriet sadly dies of consumption at the age of 13. George never got on with his father. Their relationship got off to a bad start when William Thomas Rowland presented his young son with a shot gun and told him to shoot the first thing he saw. He shot his father’s best prize bull!

He had a liaison with the governess of his children, which is documented amongst the Nanteos papers, which caused quite a stir in the household so much so that a maid at Nanteos had to sign an affidavit alleging improper behavior between Powell and the Governess.

William Thomas Rowland was a Member of Parliament from 1859 until 1865, when he had to resign due to ill health. In later years he was confined to a wheelchair and was pushed around the estate by his trusted servant John Morgan. In fact four wheelchairs were ordered at one time, presumably one for each floor of Nanteos and one for outdoors. An annual event, which Colonel Powell orchestrated from his wheelchair, was the great battle that took place on the front lawn of Nanteos. Hundreds of people would gather, mostly servants and tenants, and following the commands of Colonel Powell, wage war on each other.

William Thomas Rowland Powell 1815 - 1878
 

Horse and Hounds

 


The Hunting Scene was a high priority in gentry life, hunting and shooting was high on the agenda of socialising. Most mansions had their own packs of hounds. Regular meets took place, commencing with a preparatory hot toddy at the mansion.
The hounds at Nanteos were called the ‘Nanteos Harriers’ the pack were at their peek in the mid 1800s, and as the illustration shows, most of the hounds names began with ‘P’. The hounds were housed in their kennels, which were first located in the landscape lawn in front of Nanteos but after dampness was found on the site, which made many dogs sick, the kennels were moved and relocated to the east side of the mansion.
Many local people would turn up for the hunt (advertisements were placed in the local newspaper).


Mr. T. P. Lewes Fox hounds
Saturday next January 22nd Nanteos Fingerpost
Wednesday week January 26th Llanfihangel
Each Day 10:30


It was seen as a great outing to follow the pack, mainly on foot across the countryside for many miles.
Concluding with a huge feast for all on the return of the hunt to the mansion for all. At Nanteos, it was a busy day at the house with well over a hundred people dining, hungry after their day of hunting. Half sat in the dining room and the other half in the servant’s hall. The mansion overflowed with gentry, tenants and local people buzzing with excitement.

Nanteos Cart Plaque


Pets also played an important part of country living, some of the adored hounds are buried in the shrubbery. Other pets are also buried in the Pets Cemetry cats, birds and a pet otter. The pets’ graveyard surrounds an old Mulbury tree and a holly tree, where there are many memorials to pets of the Nantes household. These include: Traveller, Grandeur, Rags, Hermit, Old Curate, Roman, Vagrant, Gin, Pet of Pets, Mayfly, Prince, Bellman, Poor Jack the coon and Jenny his wife, Playmate, Penelope, Jack, Pilgrim, Nelson, Sponge, Restless, Rufus, Trim, My White Muff, Fan (stone missing), Freckles (stone missing) Mooney 1925 (wooden plaque with poem, missing), Lady (unmarked).
Some of the pet dogs buried in unmarked graves are:
Caustie, Topsy, Language (a beagle hound nicknamed ‘Dingo’), and David (an evacuee and Margaret Powell’s last pet).   

   

      

Pets Cemetery

 

George Ernest John Powell 1842 – 1882


George did not take up his residence in the family mansion after the death of his father W. T. R. Powell, but occupied his time largely in travelling. In 1881 he married Miss Harries, of Goodwick, Fishguard, and on his return to Aberystwyth August 1881 he was met at the station by hundreds of people of the town, and a presentation was made shortly afterwards by the tenants of the Nanteos estate and residents of Aberystwyth. Since then he has resided, with the exception of two or three months at Nanteos and was beginning to take an interest in the affairs of Aberystwyth. Sadly he was only the live at Nanteos a short while until his untimely death 1882, aged 40 years.


Beach Cottage, Goodwick.

Beach Cottage Goodwick where George lived with his new wife, before his return to Nanteos.

Dante Gabriel Rossetti


Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882) was an English poet and Pre-Raphaelite artist, born in London on May 12, 1828 and one of the founders of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in 1848. His art was characterized by his complete fixation with medieval revivalism. His art and poetry were entwined with his personal life and relationships to such a degree it was all one.
Algernon Charles Swinburne a close friend of George Powell, had his portrait painted by Dante Rossetti.
It is possible that George Powell may have met Dante Rossetti through the friendship of Swinburne of who was a close friend of Rossetti. George Powell purchased a drawing made by Rossetti of Ruth Herbert (illustrated) and said “Pictures of this noblest of artist poets being of such extreme rarity and immense value, it has taken me five years of constant search to find this interesting specimen”
Inspiration from all of Rossetti’s work came from personal experience whether he was portraying mythological or historical characters.

                          

Ruth Herbert by Rosetti.

     

1897 

Wedding Bells at Nanteos

Edward Athelstan Lewis Powell (1870 -1930) took over the Nanteos in 1911 after the death his parents (who actually passed away within days of each other). He married Margaret Louisa Joan Pryse of Gogerddan. The marriage of Miss Pryse and Mr Edward Powell was on February 5 1897, uniting in the bonds of marriage two of the oldest families in Cardiganshire. Elaborate arches spanned the road to the midday ceremony at St John’s Church Penrhyncoch

.
‘God Bless the happy pair’ ‘Long life and happiness to Mrs and Mr Powell’

‘May your path be pleasant’     ‘Union of love’   

  ‘Plas Gogerddan a Nanteos’

Bride was given away by her father, Mr Pyrse and she was attired in a rich ivory satin gown with court train, the bodice being drawn in folds of satin was relieved in a chemisette of chiffon, being kept in place by a row of fine pearls. The bodice was draped in Brussels lace with garlands of orange and myrtle. The sleeves were also of tucked chiffon with small puff gathered in a frill to face on the chiffon also the high collar has folded chiffon falling long at the back. The wreath of orange blossoms, jasmine and myrtle were under a tulle veil (myrtle bushes grow in between the front windows of Nanteos. Sprigs were taken from the bouquet of every Powell bride at Nanteos and were planted near the windows of the mansion). Ornaments she wore – diamond and white sapphire brooch, diamond brooch and her veil was pinned with Countess Amherst’s present of two large turquoise pin, diamond ring bracelet and brooch from bridegroom, diamond and enamelled bangle and one other bangle. Miss Holfod and Miss Cosens Bronpadarn the bridesmaids wore rich blue silk with blue white sprays. Mr and Mrs Powell left in the afternoon for Hereford by special train.

      

Edward Athelstan Lewis Powell 1870 - 1930

Margaret Lousia Joan Pryse Powell 1862 - 1951


A wedding gift from the Nanteos tenants was a collection of money to purchase a Raleigh car from Windover, Turril & Son London.


Diamond Jubilee 1897
Queen Victoria in her Diamond Jubilee photograph, dressed in embroidered and lace dress 1897.


On 23 September 1896, Victoria surpassed her grandfather George III as the longest-reigning monarch in English, Scottish, and British history. The Queen requested that any special celebrations be delayed until 1897, to coincide with her Diamond Jubilee.
The prime ministers of all the self-governing dominions were invited, and the Queen's Diamond Jubilee procession through London included troops from all over the empire. The Queen’s own involvement was greatly diminished on account of her increasing frailty. As an example of alterations in ceremony, the thanksgiving service took place not in Westminster Cathedral, but in the open outside St Paul’s Cathedral, so that the Queen could remain in her carriage.
After the glorious celebration the Queen issued a telegraph throughout the empire, saying ‘From my heart I thank my beloved people. May God bless them!’

 

The Servants   

                    

1927
Over 600 servants have worked at Nanteos throughout the centuries. Some interesting characters, the youngest being a John Bache a pantry boy in 1869 aged 15, the oldest William Bradley a gamekeeper that died aged 82 in 1817. Some were sacked for various reasons, and a few died due to an accident at work, and one poor chap was murdered. All types of people worked here, the majority, were local and generations of their families worked at Nanteos, quite a few were from England and a few from abroad, Germany, South Africa, Switzerland and France.

 

The Old Kitchen

The Servant’s Hall was the hub of the household for the servants, with the Vigars of Aberystwyth Fire Range installed in the kitchen, used to cook for the whole household. Recipes from Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management was surely used Mrs. Beeton created a bible for the kitchen, bringing new ideas to the dining table, to delight the Master of the house and his guests. A 1,112-page book containing 900 recipes, published in December 25 1861 became a reliable handbook for every household, fully illustrated and became the mainstay of the recipe books we see today.

 

Vigars of Aberystwyth Kitchen Range

In 1912 modern Technology comes to Nanteos with the installation of electricity supplied by Furneaux Riddall & Co. Southsea. Electricity had arrived at Aberystwyth in the early 1890s.The dark corridors and rooms of Nanteos were finally lit up by electricity. Electric Power Storage battery cells were placed on teak mountings to guard against acid leaks. The battery store and generator was housed in the outbuilding in the courtyard at Nanteos. 50 battery cells were lined up on the shelves all with brass numbered plaques. All charged up and waiting to supply the house with electricity.

Also in 1926 they had the k7820 model telephone installed, a Hunningscone patent battery wall telephone. Telephone number 7756; made communication and ordering items for the estate easier for the household. The telephone cables were attached to trees in the woods, branches had to be cut regularly to keep the line connected to the exchange.    

     

 

As we approach the twentieth century the motorcar, becomes a popular mode of transport; Edward Athelstan Lewis Powell of Nanteos Aberystwyth registered a Black Touring Ford, on the 4th June 1923, for private use, with the number plate EJ1071. Chauffeur driven by Tom Jones though the horse and carriage was their main transportation throughout.

 

The Great War

William E. G.P.W.Powell 1899 - 1918

William Edward George Pryse Wynne Powell was injured on the battlefield in B France, on the 6th November 1918, (five days before Armistice Day) and died of his injuries on the 9th November. He was 19 years old and the only son and heir of Edward and Margaret Powell. This was a devastating blow not only to the family but also to the Nanteos estate; this meant that the only son and heir had died ending of the Powell line at Nanteos.

Second Lieutenant Powell had entered Sandhurst in September 1917, later he was promoted the 1st Welsh Guards and joined the battalion in France in August 1918.

Sympathy was expressed throughout the County to Mr and Mrs Powell with their sad loss. In 1921 after a collection of money was made, a memorial cross was erected by the tenants and employees of Nanteos Estate illustrated.  He is buried at the Maubeuge Centre Cemetery, France.

Galahad by George Frederic Watts.

The Galahad poster was given to young Etonians before they went to war, a poster that challenged them to be Galahads themselves. Illustrated Saint George, although acknowledged as patron saint of England since the 14th century, was also a national symbol common to several of the belligerents in the First World War. This poster was a driving force helping to bring millions of men into the Army; it romanticized the gallant soldier going to war to protect their country.  

        
Cwpan Nanteos /Nanteos Cup

 


The Nanteos Cup began as a family tradition, which had a reputation for healing and people would drink water from it, in the hope of a miraculous cure of their ills. The Cup deteriorated over the years, by people taking a piece from it.

The Cup is made of olive wood or wych elm and was kept in the library at Nanteos locked in a cupboard for safety, it was brought out for special occasions and when a visitor would call to drink from the vessel. It is no longer at Nanteos but with a member of the Powell family.  

George Powell was fascinated by the music of the composer Wilhelm Richard Wagner. Wagner composed the Parsifal opera, and it is certain that George Powell’s friendship with Wagner inspired the opera about the sacred vessel.

“The legend of Holy Graal is a most wonderful and magical of all the dreams that the world has dreamed. It is symbol of the desire of all our hearts for the supreme beauty, the high truth, and the everlasting mystery, which are at the heart of all things visible and invisible." (The opening paragraph of a booklet Arthur Machen a Welsh author wrote in 1913 to accompany a film version of Parsifal).


End of an Era

 

Margaret Powell


1951 sees the end of a long line of Powell occupancy. Margaret Powell passed away at the great age of 89, after 54 years of residence, and the last 21 years head of the estate (with the death of her husband Capt. Edward Powell in 1930). With her passing, Nanteos became various things, firstly Nanteos was bequeathed to the Mirylees Family a distant cousin to Margaret Powell, Major and Elizabeth Mirylees moved into Nanteos 1956 and lived there with their daughters, they had the mansion open to the public one day a week, they sold the mansion together with 2000 acre estate in 1969. Rose and Geoff Bliss bought Nanteos in 1969. Together with their two children Tony and Michael, they opened Nanteos to the public.

Daniel Owen Daniel and his daughter Rose Bliss

Thousands of people came to see the stately home, over the years from all over the world.

1970s Nanteos Poster

They would hold monthly antique fairs in the stable yard, and had a very busy tearoom. Nanteos was also used as a location for television series in the 1970s ‘Enoc Huws’ a popular Welsh series at the time. After 18 years of running Nanteos as a stately home, the Bliss family decided to sell Nanteos in 1983. Since 1983 Nanteos has gone through many changes of occupancy. At one stage vintage rallies and game fairs were held at Nanteos during this period. One sad period during the late 1980s Nanteos was boarded up, neglected and empty. Then in the1990s Nanteos becomes a Bed & Breakfast, and later a hotel. Finally in 2004 it came into ownership of the present owners. Where they dusted down the cobwebs and put life back into the delightful mansion.

 

2012


The opening of Plas Nanteos


After a complete restoration, Nanteos is back in the forefront of grand houses in Wales. The doors are opened of the Grade One manor house as a grand five star hotel, giving top quality service and hospitality. Following an extensive investment of over £4.5 million, it is an historic, luxury, Country House Hotel.
Just over 60 years since the last Powell of Nanteos passing away, Nanteos has reached another chapter of its extensive history.

New Owners purchased Nanteos in 2004, giving Nanteos a fresh lease of life.
Nanteos is now owned privately by Saxoncourt a family business, who have transformed the mansion back to its former glory. The décor in each room reflects the house's Georgian origins and tells stories of Nanteos's past of bygone times and the romance of Nanteos's setting. They have been individually designed, blending original features, state-of-the-art facilities and opulent furnishings. Nanteos Mansion has a long, colourful history, full of fables, culture, mystery and romance.

A century ago electricity and telephone were installed at Nanteos, now one hundred years later all the new technology has been installed all the Rooms and Suites with flatscreen TVs, iPod docks and DVD players; telephones, free broadband and Wi-Fi facilities.