HENDRE FELIN, Ceredigion 2011

Notes on HENDRE FELIN, Ceredigion 2011

A group of cows, with their young, scattered, re-grouped, came galloping around me and then followed me. They followed me most way up the drive to Hendre Felin. The elder were curious, the younger boisterous yet more fearful.

The house, built into a steep bank, south facing, is most unusual. The front door offset to the left, the extension with the long thin window, and along a passage way, rose up to the large kitchen and storeroom(?). The kitchen and storeroom are both single storey and rest on the bank.

I am neither historian nor architect but I believe this house was designed this way, and this way is not common in Ceredigion.

Inside are large empty rooms, empty except for broken furniture; a panel-less wardrobe, a sowing table, chest of drawers, chairs with three legs, much bedroom furniture all downstairs in the living quarters. And the upstairs bedrooms all empty except for pieces of stone that have fallen inward and dust, a lot of fine dust filling the lungs, dancing in the sun light and adding to my nervousness.

The main staircase rises to the first floor and then carries on upward to the attic space. I did not climb into the attic, the steps on the stairs had visible and perhaps not so visible holes and I imagine the floorboards of the attic were the same. Judging by the high pitched roof, a high narrow A-frame, well over head-height, I would say the attic to be large and spacious, although dark. Maybe this housed the man-servants? Did this house have servants? I imagine so.

The raised kitchen was large with a well-used Rayburn-style stove rusting and wallpaper hanging off plastered walls (also hanging off). The textures and patterns of the walls revealed much beauty – as much beauty as is possible considering I am in a damp, rotten and long forgotten house.

Hendre Felin is a staggeringly interesting house which was built circa 1620 (but is this the layout that we see today?).

I found a Yellow Pages dated 1987 – was this the last time this house was inhabited? Maybe. Or maybe a little later but begs the question, should a house that has stood almost four hundred years be allowed to be neglected so?

It stands but a stone’s throw away from Hendre Quarry and one must wonder if the regular blasts coming from the quarry can be doing this old house any good. I doubt so and worry so.

The photographs taken came easy. The beginning of this Saturday morning, early October, was warm and the sky without any interrupting cloud. Even the internal images, with the sun light streaming through the windows, were relatively short at around 4 minutes (at F16 – F22).
It was an unnerving visit. So often I feel this way when a house seems unnaturally at the point of ruin.

Structurally it appears to be in good shape, however, there’s a few small holes in the roof and the drain pipes fallen and the ground around the house is very damp, the mud deep where the cows stand poised and digesting!
The house does however need to be made water-tight and intruder-tight with the guttering and drainage re-introduced and holes in the roof repaired. Then why not put it on the market, offered as a large family, country residence? An old family home needs a family to make it home again.

And again, after my visit, long and fruitful, I crossed the watery driveway that runs around the house and back into the field where the cows had temporarily forgotten me. Once again, spooked and energetic, it was pleasant to be around some life affirming creatures that contained no dust, no rotten walls, no bleak future nor sorrowful core.
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HENDRE FELIN, Ceredigion 2011

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