On the Western edge of Snowdonia National Park sits an old weathered house of dove grey stone, hidden behind a square of protective buildings – a gatehouse, coach house, stables and, beyond, a walled garden. The Historic Houses Foundation’s 2019 contribution will significantly advance the restoration programme of this special building.
Strong tradition in Wales
The manor house at Glyn Cywarch was built in 1616 when James I was on the throne and the gentry of Wales were taking their place in British society. The house was home to William and Catherine Wynn whose marriage represented the union of two old Welsh families. Just ten years younger than Boston Manor House (you can read about that here), Glyn Cywarch is both more conservative in design and quintessentially Welsh with its grey slate roofs. In a layout typical of Renaissance buildings in this region, the gatehouse forms an entrance courtyard to the main house while a separate dower house stands at an angle behind. The survival of the entire complex is more unusual.
The Ormsby-Gores, tragedy and revival
From William and Catherine Wynn, the house passed through 5 generations to heiress Mary Jane Ormsby in 1804. When Mary Jane married William Gore, a prominent Anglo-Irish politician, the Glyn Cywarch became one of several family properties in Shropshire, North Wales and Ireland and the family spent much of their time at the rather grander Palladian, Brogyntyn, just over the English border. As a result, at Glyn Cywarch, little was altered except for the addition of a new wing to link the dower house and main house in the 1870s. In 1876, John Ormsby-Gore was created Baron Harlech in recognition of long parliamentary service and the title has also descended down the family.
The Ormsby-Gores were particularly notable for the accumulation of one of the most important libraries in Wales, much now gifted to the National Library of Wales, but some volumes ended up at Glyn Cywarch with other historic contents after Brogyntyn was sold following a series of family tragedies. Today’s Lord Harlech, Jasset Ormsby-Gore, has decided to rescue and revitalise the house at Glyn Cywarch and invest it with new life. To fund the restoration, many of the accumulated contents have been sold, including a fascinating collection of romantic letters between his grandfather, the 5th Lord Harlech, ambassador to Washington, and Jackie Kennedy after the assassination of her husband, JFK, in 1963.
The Historic Houses Foundation funds will give the gatehouse buildings a new role including becoming the centre of a new environmental heating system, a vital element of the planned restoration which will allow the removal of a polluting outdated system from the main house. Glyn Cywarch now looks forward to an exciting new future as an upmarket bed and breakfast business allowing any one of us to enjoy its tranquil seclusion.