George Powell 1842 - 1882

by Jan Joel - 13:37 on 17 October 2019

On this day (17th October 1882) 137 years ago, George Powell of Nanteos passed away; in his 40th year. He died at Nanteos with Dinah, his wife by his side. Sadly he only held the Nanteos estate for four year after the death of his father William Thomas Rowland Powell, taking over the estate in 1878.

He returned to Nanteos in the August of 1878, after many years of traveling and living in Normandy, France; Mornington Cresent, London; and Goodwick, Fishguard.  His arrival at Aberystwyth Railway Station cause a great stir amongst the town folk, he received a hero’s welcome, Hundreds of people welcomed the new Lord of the Manor. A presentation of a richly illustrated certificate was given to him by the tenants and residents of Nanteos and Aberystwyth, which he proudly displayed in the library at Nanteos.

Who would have even thought, on that jubilant day that August, that George Powell would only live another four years? During the four years he became the High Sheriff of Cardiganshire. During the ceremony held at the church of St Mary’s in Cardigan, he caused himself great embarrassment when he tripped over his sword while coming out of his carriage.

A year before his death he married Dinah Harries, a servant girl from Goodwick, Fishguard. They spent a lot of time in their cottage and he wrote much of his later poems from the beach. ‘Beach Cottage’ still stands and is lived in today. You can plainly see the beauty of the coast which he found inspiration in the early 1880’s.

George Powell’s health had been deteriorating for quite some time, what with high living, self-abuse, and sadomasochism tendencies over the years. He suffered many bouts of illnesses. On Tuesday October 17th, George Powell died at Nanteos, after an illness of only a few days, It is very curious that he died the very minute when the first chords of his concert would have sounded, in a performance that would have been held at Aberystwyth to fund raise for the Free Library in the town, which he was so much looking forward to attending.

The account of his funeral was recorded in the Cambrian News on the 27th of October 1882

On Tuesday morning last the body of Mr George Ernest John Powell, of Nanteos, who died on the 17th of October, was interred in the family vault at the east end of Llanbadarn Fawr churchyard where had been previously buried the deceased gentleman's mother and sister. Heavy clouds obscured the sky, rain came down in a steady, monotonous drizzle which, combined with the sound of the tolling of the bell, and the funereal nature of the occasion had a melancholy and depressing effect. Withered foliage gave evidence of the departure of summer, and dead leaves fell on to the carriage drive to be trodden under foot by the approaching procession which was to carry the deceased to his last resting place, or into the grey-lined water which flowed sullenly in its course towards the sea.

He died childless, and within a year his wife left the country immigrating to the United States where she eventually re-married. She died in Southern California in the 1950’s. The Nanteos Estate was left to his cousin William Beauclerc Powell. George’s vast collections were bequeathed to the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, where they can be seen today, vast collections of paintings, curios, antiquities, and music manuscripts, various documents, books, autographs, a very extensive collection bequeathed. 


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