The Nanteos Lake
The Lake with Nanteos in the backgroiund
The digging out the Nanteos Lake begun in 1819 under the orders of William Edward Powell. It was known the ‘Lower Pond’, water flowed down from the ‘Upper Pond’, via the Nantpaith stream. In time the lower pond became known as the Nanteos lake. In the late 1950s the Upper Pond located at Capel Seion was abandoned and now only the Nant Paith stream flows through what was once the Upper Pond.
The Upper Pond at Capel Seion, circ.1904.
The Nanteos lake is located half way up on the main driveway from the Lodge, on the right hand side as you approach Nanteos.
Digging out the Nanteos lake in the 1820s was obviously a massive task especially without modern machinery, and took a few years to complete. Below is an example of work carried out in 1823.
Richard Rees 11 days – carrying stones and clay to the pond £0.4.0
Richard Rees 12 days carrying stones and clay to the pond.
William Smith 6 days working at pond 2d per day 12/
Ricard Samuel 6 days at pond 7/6 per day
Rowland Mason 6 days at pond 7/6 per day
Edward Edwards 6 days at pond 1/3 per day £ 0.7.6
John Walters 6 days at 2d per day – 12/ 12 days 1/6 – 18/
(National Library of Wales, Nanteos Box 23)
Once completed the size of the lake was approximately 4 acres in size.
Plan of the Nanteos Lake (not to scale)
The manual sluice gate, when opened, allows water to flow from the Nantpaith stream into the lake, and its depth controlled by the weir.
Once the Nantpaith stream filled the lake the stream continued downstream meandering around the lake, on the south and west side. The west side the area had a decorative weir of slate, (only scattered fragments of slate survive today). The cascading waterfall would have been seen from the high point of the woodland walkways across from the main driveway.
The steam continues to flow its way down towards Nanteos Lodge making its way to Rhydyfelin, then joins the Ystwyth River after flowing under the old railway line, just before reaching the sea.
The lake has a small island just off centre, which ornamental plants and trees had been planted, and at one point a Victorian summer house was placed on the island, similar to the summer house that once stood in the shrubbery at Nanteos, probably built by the same carpenter.
Maintenance of the lake during the Powell time was executed to a high standard. Double sided blades held between two rowing boats would cut through the growing weeds and lily pads to keep the water clear and clean at all times. Two boats were regularly rowed side by side with a blade in between to cut the weeds, giving a mirror like vision for guests to view.
Nanteos Lake with two boat houses in the 1970s.
Two boat houses are located on the west side of the lake, the date of construction of the boat houses is unknown. One of the boat houses kept an elegant rowing boat with iron wrought detail as seen in the photograph below. Sadly, today the boat houses are in ruin.
The photograph above shows the wrought iron topped boat being rowed by a member of the Burman Family in the 1940s.
The Burman family stayed at Nanteos every August from the late 1930s to the early 1940s, and maintained much of the mansion and grounds during their visits.
It is said that at some point Nanteos had a model of a yacht, that would be often sailed around the Nanteos lake. The yacht was a model of Britannia, the original built in 1893 for King Edward VII, the then Prince of Wales. During this era Nanteos was under the stewardship of William Beauclerc Powell, we can only surmise that he or his son Edward Athelstan Lewis Powell owned the model of Britannia.
The history of the full sized yacht is that King George V took ownership of the Britannia yacht in her final years converting her into a J Class racing yacht, it sailed in three editions of the America’s Cup from 1930-1937. She eventually finished with a lifetime record of 231 race wins and 129 further podiums making her the dominant yacht of the time.
Above, a model of Britannia that would have been at Nanteos and sailed on the lake.
The lake has a supply of fish, mostly Trout and permission was regular given by the Powell family for the local people to fish at the lake. And regualar visits from Swans and hermons and many other wildlife. Recent sightings of otters have been seen.
After the Powells the lake was left neglected for several years, until the Bliss family moved to Nanteos. After severval attempts to maintain the lake in 1878 Geoff Bliss decided the best way to clear the lake was to dread it. He received two steam traction engines for the operationan as birthday present from Rose, his wife.
Geoff Bliss driving one of the steam engines to Nanteos.
The Pair of Fowlers Steam Traction Engines on the front lawn at Nanteos. (Photograph with kind permission of Rich James).
Once the Fowlers engines arrived at Nanteos work commenced and with his friends Clifford James and Mr. Wooley, Geoff bagan the massive task dredged the 4 acre lake, with the Fowlers consuming around 50 tons of coal in the process.
Now the lake was dredged and the sluice gates repaired together with a new drain installed the lake was transformed into its original state.
The weir renovated by Geoff Bliss.