CWMGIGFRAN, Talley, Carmarthenshire 2012

CWMGIGFRAN, Talley, Carmarthenshire 2012 - CARMARTHENSHIRE
Notes on CWMGIGFRAN, Talley, Carmarthenshire 2012

The bridle way that leads up to the estate of Cwmgigfran is lined with mature trees. The path is deeply rutted with the autumn leaves laying decomposing over the rich deeper mud beneath. After a half mile walk in a lightly wooded area I came across a fenced off area and within a large impenetrable mass of rhododendrons.

A small gate which I presumed would wend itself around to the front of the property would have been a preferred entrance but this is over grown with tendrils of brambles climbing high, into the ground, out into the air and would surely wrap their barbed selves around me.

So another route was found, alongside some outbuildings, again, the brambles acted as a natural barrier. These outbuildings showed interest – a former resident – living rough(?) – a mouldy and damp mattress, folds of blankets, bags of clothes, a carpet pinned against a wall (obviously to seal off any cold draughts). Within another outbuilding were shelves of various fittings; jars of nails, a rusting wheelbarrow, an oil lamp, pot belly stove standing redundant and unfitted… this list could be endless, like that of the mansion of Plas Gwynfryn. Everything, however, was rusting, or broken, or had passed its useful life.

So onward to the house, surprisingly large, unsurprisingly few fragments of architectural interest remain. The four high walls do reveal a full three storey and settled on a basement. According to ‘Lost Houses of Wales’ (Tom Lloyd), the house was built 1800 but dismantled 1965.

The land around the house is either boggy and inaccessible or inaccessible due to the foliage which has been allowed to grow without restraint. This adds only to the thrill of visiting such a house. The frontages had two brick-clad bays reaching up the full three storeys but higher still were the trees that grew within.

To photograph the façade was challenging and I literally had to stand within the rhododendron jungle and use my camera bag to weigh down the tripod and camera. The branches of the rhododendron are naturally living things and any force against them caused them to respond with equal force. Once weighted, the camera and tripod seemed relatively stable. But, as ever, long exposures were used even in the winter sunlight and after 12 seconds (and then after developing and printing the negatives) I was pleased to find the negatives were sharp and the springy rhododendrons branches hadn’t caused any movement against the tripod legs and therefore causing a blurred negative.

Cwmgigfran stands quite magnificent in its obscured location, overlooking a peaceful landscape and on this bright winters morning transmits not an air of sadness but of calmness. One can breathe here.
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