GWYNFRYN PLAS, Llanystumdwy, Caernarvonshire 2009

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GWYNFRYN PLAS, Llanystumdwy, Caernarvonshire 2009
Notes on GWYNFRYN PLAS, Llanystumdwy, Caernarvonshire 2009

I left the house at 4am and spent two and half hours driving in the dark miserable drizzle up to the village of Llanystumdwy. The only other traffic were articulates passing goods around the country. I parked the car and walked past a lodge house and up the winding path across open parkland passed large oaks and up to the imposing ruins of Gwynfryn Plas. The rain had stopped and a warm sun peered through the clouds just north of Snowdon skimming Gwynfryn’s façade with a warm and welcoming hue.

The house is positioned beautifully on the Lleyn Peninsula overlooking Snowdonia and Cardigan Bay. Looking up at the house it became quickly apparent that the larger tower is nearing the precipice of collapse. A stone window lintel on the first floor has buckled and cracked with a bulging mass of stone above it looking ready to burst out onto the ground below and no doubt bringing with it much of the tower above.

The tower, as much of the house, is built with brick but with a stone outer and was built by Hugh John Ellis Nanney and completed in 1876 (with a date stone on the tower). It remained a family home until 1928 (a mere 52 years) and then became a retirement home for the clergy, a hospital and then a hotel (a mixed, yet not uncommon, history). It burnt down during the 1980’s and has remained that way since (except for a brief period when a squatter took it upon himself to begin a restoration, a seemingly ambitious but futile attempt before eviction).

Wandering through the rear rooms and service quarters there’s much evidence of the house as a hotel. Slot machines fill an outbuilding, a room full of children’s books and toys fill another, a room with light fittings and chandeliers, maintenance rooms with metal boxes filled with nuts, bolts and other hardware, rusting and messy, in disarray and disorder.

Evidence of the ambitious and, quite frankly, brave squatter - a sole inhibitor - an easy chair and radio. A lot of machinery dotted around the rear of the building; heavy duty bench saws and drill presses, all rusting outside and destined for landfill one day. Many rooms are filled with building material, roof beams, an endless list of supplies and spares, either salvaged or bought for restoration, all redundant and wasted. All this is open to the elements and decaying in the damp. Cars litter the grounds barely visible in the summer foliage, other farming and foresting equipment laying redundant, damp, mouldy, lichen covered with weeds growing in and around wheels and engines. Overall Gwynfryn is a very depressing sight.

The entrance is at the side, a lavish decorative stone lattice porch and it was in this doorway that the better exposures were made. A view opened up into the house revealing fallen beans, passageways and into the main hall and onto a large fireplace. I can not say I particularly enjoyed my visit to Gwynfryn. The drive up there was long and slow and under horrid weather conditions. The house so beautifully positioned yet is so miserable and carelessly abandoned that you feel anger towards the waste. I hail the brave squatter and salute his resolve but this house needs more than care put into it. It needs a hefty wallet and a generous and willing loving restorer.


Plas Gwynfryn 2009


Plas Gwynfryn 2009
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GWYNFRYN PLAS, Llanystumdwy, Caernarvonshire 2009

Comments

Photo comment By D hughes: I was personally acqainted with the intrepid squatter who poured considerable resources - mainly physical, into the attempted partial restoration of this ruin. I hail now as I did then, his unquenshable zeal in the face of such monumental impossibility. I could never fathom out why on earth he should want to attempt it, - it's a horrid mish mash of architectural styles, impressive in a kind of awsome, crude way but splendourless. The mouldings and stones(though not the stonework) could be put to some grander use I'm sure. I believe the owner hails from Canada and made a court appearance locally in order to challenge the shaky legality on which the squatter based his occupancy and indeed possession. I'm minded that a better outcome would have been to allow the misguided yet committed squatter to continue with his endeavours; better this than the sad and blatent neglect which is now inexorably reducing the edifice to rubble. A shame on those owners who seem to be paralysed by such inertia that not even basic preservation is attempted.
Photo comment By By P White: Hello, Thanks for your comments - i just felt the need to reply - I agree with you wholeheartedly about the mish-mash of architectural styles of the house - aesthietically i find it insulting to the senses; Disney-like, crass and oddly characterless. There are however some discernable features, i do like the porch, although even this seems like an after-thought!
Photo comment By By P White: Hello, Thanks for your comments - i just felt the need to reply - I agree with you wholeheartedly about the mish-mash of architectural styles of the house - aesthietically i find it insulting to the senses; Disney-like, crass and oddly characterless. There are however some discernable features, i do like the porch, although even this seems like an after-thought!
Photo comment By aaron: i love this building and have been trying to contact the owner or the former squatter but with no joy CAN ANYONE HELP PLEASE I WISH TO PURCHASE
Photo comment By Dawn: I would like to try and contact anyone who owns this building or who can grant me use of the grounds.. I run a ghost hunting business and have been asked by many local people who claim to have seen things flowating around in and around the building to arrange something but fear simply being in the grounds i may be tresspassing??
Photo comment By Richard Williams: This was a fantastic building. I remember working on it just before it became a hotle. It was then ownd by a Mr Cotterril!! who was supposed a "boxing promoter". When we had to lay a waste pipe through the wall it was Very difficult. The outside stonework was so good there seemed to be no mortar between the stones. So well was it built. I remember "Bwff" a local craftsman cleaning the oak panelling with some sort of acid to remove years of dirt. Boy did it come up clean. What an awful shame it has come to this. The ceiling in the Library was fantastic. Wish I had won the Euromillions lottery, because I would love to see this building come back to life.
Photo comment By Steve Hill: The Mr Cotterill refered to was the business partner of my father who was co-owner at the time - 1970s. I spent most of my teenage summers at Gwynfryn when it was a hotel, working in the kitchens, the laundry and maintaining the extensive gardens and walled kitchen garden. I also remember getting the local fire service in to help hoist a flag pole to the top of the tower - flying the Welsh dragon of course! The views across the Lleyn peninsula were spectacular from there.
Photo comment By Chris Owen: My family was one of the first to stay there when Mr Cotterill opened it as a hotel. It had not officially opened, so we really were christening the place. Fantastic inside! I believe it featured also in the TV series of David Lloyd George.
Photo comment By Chris Owen: My family was one of the first to stay there when Mr Cotterill opened it as a hotel. It had not officially opened, so we really were christening the place. Fantastic inside! I believe it featured also in the TV series of David Lloyd George.
Photo comment By Chris Owen: My family was one of the first to stay there when Mr Cotterill opened it as a hotel. It had not officially opened, so we really were christening the place. Fantastic inside! I believe it featured also in the TV series of David Lloyd George.
Photo comment By Hugh Bryson: I was born in this house in sept 1962. when it was part of the clergy. My mother who was suffering from mental illnes would visit this location for help from the sisters. All my family were in care in foster homes in manchester .I was placed in care in a home called Ty Hywel in Aberdaron afte living in middleton, before moving to Canada in 1977. Not the greatest upbringing but 4 sisters 3 brothers survived to start the next generation in Vancouver Canada. If interested in more drop me A line. My siste Julie visited this place and framed me a good size picture and I stumbled upon this site and others through that picture.I am saddened to see it in such disrepair when it was so clos to restoration at one time.
Photo comment By Hugh Bryson: I was born in this house in sept 1962. when it was part of the clergy. My mother who was suffering from mental illnes would visit this location for help from the sisters. All my family were in care in foster homes in manchester .I was placed in care in a home called Ty Hywel in Aberdaron afte living in middleton, before moving to Canada in 1977. Not the greatest upbringing but 4 sisters 3 brothers survived to start the next generation in Vancouver Canada. If interested in more drop me A line. My siste Julie visited this place and framed me a good size picture and I stumbled upon this site and others through that picture.I am saddened to see it in such disrepair when it was so clos to restoration at one time.
Photo comment By Warren Malone: Friends of my family briefly owned (or ran) the place and I spent a memorable few days there in the late 70s just before it was being sold. I remember a proper fire engine with an extending ladder parked on the driveway. It was, as you'd expect from a big old building, quite cold and draughty but there were real fires burning in generous fireplaces to warm up by. I can attest to the structural integrity of the brickwork. I think I was about 8 or 9 at the time and had convinced my parents to buy me a scrambler motorbike. I was riding it around a walled field (which at some point was probably a garden) and got stuck in a deep rut. To get out of it I accelerated but miscalculated, did a wheelie and smashed straight into a brick wall. The very sturdy and thick front forks were bent and the front wheel looked a bit like a taco shell. I managed to crack an "unbreakable" facemask. The wall was totally unscathed. I was knocked unconscious for a short while, coming round covered in blood, a rather worrying sight for my father who then (i think) had to carry me to a car and drive me to the hospital; though now I recall talk of a wheelbarrow. I had concussion, scars on my face for a few years and broke a couple of fingers. That was the most troublesome - months of physical therapy doing macramé and bending wire into coat hangers to regain full finger function. But I remember the "castle" with great fondness. I hope someone can afford to restore it.
Photo comment By Carol: Hi. Inspirational pages. I would love to visit Gwynfryn Plas. I can't find it on google maps, I keep getting plas gwynfryn. Do you have directions, please? Many thanks
Photo comment By Kenneth Benning: I have only just found this site. I was informed of it by a local firm in Pwllheli. The property is owned by my father-in-law. Please contact me for more details. I am hoping to commence a project that will ultimately result in the property being renovated.
Photo comment By gareth owen: I visited the plas this morning to use it as a subject for some photography.After being told by the current residents at the gate house that this was private property but didnt mind me entering to take some shots. What struck me was all the gambling/pub game machines left inside at least 30 odd fruit machines and 10 pool tables and countless spare parts, Does anyone know why there are all these machines in the property? I do fear that since you have taken your photos the structure of the building itself has taken a turn for the worse and would need large parts knocking down before any restoration could take place.
Photo comment By s rowlede: I was saddened to see the state of this building. I had stayed here on a school trip when I was young, and had being looking on the net in hopes that it was now a lovely spa hotel and that I could return. I hope that someone can save this building.
Photo comment By Catharina: hello could some one give me the place and such thingsi restore castles soon in Schotland and would love to get my hands on this property could some one tell me where to go to thanks already
Photo comment By Keith Roberts: My Great Grandfather Thomas Roberts was the Farm Bailiff at Gwynfryn Farm just around the corner from the main mansion house and the family lived in the lodge house which is situated at the bottom of the drive to Gwynfryn Plas. He arrived to take up the post from Llanyblodwel which is a small village on the Montgomeryshire/Shropshire border somewhere around 1891 and he died just a couple of years before his boss Hugh John Ellis Nanney. WE visited the mansion ruins in 1911 and can certainly testify that unless something serious is carried out in the form of restoration then the next phase of it`s chequered life will inevitably be demolition.
Photo comment By Rose Boakes: Kenneth and Benning. Do you have any contact details for your father in law plz.name, Email address any way to contact him. My email is keys_1974@hotmail.com Several reasons the 1st is I live in llanystumdwy love old buildings and would just like to be nosey but with owners consent. Also so many people want to do things with this property I.e ghost hunts, buy and restore. And to say do you know it had another fire in April 2014. Thanks Rose
Photo comment By Vicky Pattison: Hi Can anyone tell me what's happened to this house now. (Feb 2015) My grandfather worked here as butler and I'd like to visit
Photo comment By Mike Gates: During WW2 this bulding was used by the Red Cross as a childrens'hospital/evacuation centre. My mum was a nurse there during this time. I went to have a look around about8 years ago, 2008 and was totally impressed by its grandeur and how magnificent it must have been.All the building machinery mentioned above was lying around together with the fruit machines and church pews. There was still some tiles around a couplee of the fireplaces. What floorboards were left were very dangerous and the evidence of the start of the restoration was there.I tried to imagine what it must have been like for the children and how they must have felt separated from their mums and dads yet at the same time having a secure and loving environment in North Wales. the present condition of the property must now surely be such that it will fall down in the near future, and the local Council, or whatever they have in Nort Wales must fence it off with the appropriate signs? What a great sorrow to see such decline.

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