More sad news as Ruined Plas Gwynfryn mansion, is hit by fire again!

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Iscoed: A Red Brick Mansion in Carmarthenshire

On a hill, overlooking Carmarthen Bay, sits the red brick mansion of Iscoed. Work began on the construction of the mansion  in 1772. The choice of red brick was unusual for that part of West Wales.  Iscoed consists of a central three storey block with matching wings on each side. A further  range behind the main block links the two wings together, creating a large courtyard .It was used as a family home by the Mansel family before being sold to Sir Thomas Picton  in 1812. It changed hands again in 1919, but remained a family home until the end of the Second World War. At this point it became owned by the council and converted into flats. Just 15 years later the house had been stripped of its fittings and roof. After passing into private hands again it just avoided demolition due to its owners sudden death in the late 1950’s.

Now Iscoed sits on an overgrown site and ivy clings to the walls. A more recent owner has re-roofed one of the wings and  its windows have  been boarded up. The rest of the mansion remains roofless. Small piles of bricks lie on the floor where lintels have given way. Around the house a few pieces of  plasterwork remain. Looking upwards towards the sky, you see doors hanging precariously  from their rotten frames. With the floors now long gone, exploring Iscoed is a dangerous task. The brick vaulted cellar ceiling is now collapsing leaving holes in the ground floor so it is imperative to tread carefully . The courtyard too is now an overgrown jungle of vegetation.

What a lovely house this could be again.  It is not so big that renovation back to a family home would be completely unrealistic. The house is made up out of different blocks which could be tackled one at a time. But until a new enthusiastic owner turns up, Iscoed remains at risk!

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Remote, Derelict and on the Market

Remote, Derelict and on the Market

The derelict farmhouse known as Pemprys, twenty minutes from Aberystwyth is currently on the market.
If seclusion is what you’re after then this house is the one for you! This Grade II listed building is sited on a small plot of land and it sits in a secluded valley up a long and bumpy track.
After negotiating the fallen trees and the pot holes I reached the farmhouse. It was dusk and the light was fading fast. The ground was wet and there was a cold chill in the air.
The walls of the house were thick and seemed to be in a good state, but the roof had many slipped slates and there were no signs of any activity to patch the holes up.
Walking into the house I saw a layer of mud covering the ground floor. Some attempt to make the house semi- water tight had been made, but this was purely by blocking the windows up with whatever stones or pieces of wood had been lying nearby. In the main room a large inglenook fire place took up the majority of one of the walls, but the large wooden beam that held up the chimney had a great crack in it and had consequently shifted allowing the wall above it to drop. A rickety staircase led to the first floor, and I had to avoid the holes and rotten floor boards to take a look. There was evidence of wildlife, of various kinds, making the cottage their home.
There are six rooms in total, as well as a barn which is built onto the end of the house. This is a good size cottage sitting in the most beautiful position.
Sadly, planning permission has already been refused twice, with the local authority suggesting that a better use would be to use the building to house animals! Surely this is not the right answer! Further worries from the council include access and the presence of bats at the property. The lack of facilities at the property and its remote location are factors that could put off many perspective buyers, but for someone wanting to live off-grid this could be perfect!
I will watch and hope that someone who can take on the many challenges of this property will appear and bring it back to life.

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St Marys

A cobbled path winds its way up a hill from the village of Tintern. It is covered in leaves and mud and the path seems to have been seldom used. As I walked up it a high stone wall appeared on my left, vegetation sprouting from the gaps between the stones.  At the end of the wall two old gates, rusted and left open led into an over grown graveyard.  I entered and spent a while looking up at the ruins of the Grade II listed Church of St Mary. The church is of medieval origin but was virtually re-built in 1886.  The life of the church as we see today  would span less than a hundred years before it was made redundant and then  set on fire in 1977. History is sketchy to  how the church’s fate was sealed, was it accident or arson?  Indeed the history of this building is hard to discover at all! It is a romantic site, the graveyard,  largely left to nature  has a few paths cutting through it, which made  finding the best view-points easier, however, the morning dew that  lay on the ground soon soaked  through my shoes and penetrated to my socks. The location is beautiful ; perched on  a hill, the views look out down the valley, where just visible in the distance are the ruins of Tintern Abbey.

Walking up to the church door I took a closer look at the tower, which somehow had survived the fire of 1977. The roof remains although holes are visible. The walls of the tower have been resilient against the last 35 years of weather, Inside a different picture is painted. The walls are now largely covered in ivy and stones have fallen and now lie scattered on the ground. There are some signs of an attempt being made to cap off the walls many years previously.  The delicate stone window to the east of the building is chipped and looks weak. Saplings grow from between the tiles and nature is trying to reclaim the site.  An old cellar lies beneath part of the church, the floor long gone I trod carefully around the edge, not wanting to end up falling in. The church still boasts some  beautiful stone carvings.

 I had made my visit at a good time of year as winter had stripped the lush green vegetation from the walls  making it easier to inspect its condition.  St Marys is a romantic ruin, one that I think should remain a ruin. But for it to remain at all, work must be done to stop it from being enveloped by nature.



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Neuadd Fawr: A classical beauty

North of the small Carmarthenshire village of Cilycwm and surrounded by beautiful countryside stands Neuadd Fawr, a classically fronted grade II listed mansion set within its own parkland. The house was originally built in 1784 and was subsequently enlarged and remodelled in the 1820s to the neo-classical house we see today. The house remained with the original family until it was transformed into a school in 1940. It then had a brief stint as a youth hostel before being passed back to a distant member of the family. However the upkeep of the house was ignored and the rot set in.

 The house now stands in a field, fenced off and open to the elements. The roof, although still in situ, now heavily undulates and holes are appearing where the slates have slipped allowing the wind and rain to penetrate deep into the fabric of the building. Trees have sunk their roots into the masonry, pushing the cast iron ionic columns of the porch out of line. Inside, the staircase with its Egyptian lotus leaf banisters has long gone and so too have the fireplaces and panelling. The first floor has largely collapsed, leaving the upper walls and doors seemingly floating in space. My initial impression, that this building seemed to be in fairly good order, were now gone! The precarious state of the inside shocked me; I would not be venturing in! It left me with a feeling that time is running out for this fine building. It will just take a single part of the roof to collapse and the process of decay will dramatically speed up. The out buildings surrounding the mansion are in a similar state, apart from the main stable block. They are now roofless and have cracks appearing in the walls and look in a desperate state.

 In 1996 the owner applied for permission to demolish the house, but this was turned down. The building was then transferred into the ownership of a limited company to reduce any impact to the surrounding farmland should the house be the subject of a compulsory purchase order. The house is landlocked with no direct access. What will the future hold? Surely the best option for this building is to revert back to its original use as a large family house. I have no doubt at all that if Neuadd Fawr was to be placed on the open market it would be snapped up in no time at all. Few houses evoke emotions like this one. Let’s hope that someone steps in to save this glorious building…..before it’s too late.

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Brynkir Revisited

A weekend in north Wales, led to a rather spontaneous visit to Brynkir, which is located on the edge of the beautiful Snowdonia  National Park. Leaving the car in a lay by I asked my friends to follow me.  Slightly bewildered they got out the car and trailed after me through the vegetation.  They had no idea what lay ahead.  After  a few minutes venturing through the overgrown grounds, the grey walls, that I remembered  so fondly from the previous summer, stood in front on us.  My previous visit was in May 2012, but this time, now that winter had set in and the trees had lost their leaves,  the building could be viewed in greater detail.  Inside the building most of the saplings that had sunk their roots into the rubble from the fallen walls, have now largely been cleared.  Now there is less vegetation I was able to explore part of the building that I had not been able to reach on my original visit.  inside the building the lack of internal structure is disappointingly clear; where once there were walls, now there are just piles of stones.  Although a large amount of the fabric of the building has long gone, there is enough still standing to evoke  emotion about this magical ruin.

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Llawhadden House

Llawhadden House

Llawhadden House is a Grade II listed hall which sits comfortably to the side of the road only a few minutes walk away from Llawhadden Castle. The house fell victim to fire in 2000. Sadly the elderly owner perished during this event, thus ending a 300 year long occupation of the house by the Skyrme family, and turning the property itself into a burnt out shell. The house now sits at the centre of the village surrounded by security fencing and large red KEEP OUT signs. After many years of lying abandoned with vegetation slowly creeping in, an effort has been made to clear the site by the current owner, with a plan, (still in its infancy), to restore the building. This is a promising development, but is, no doubt, going to be a long and slow process. Although Llawhadden is not the hugest of houses, it still makes you bring the car to a halt as you drive past to imagine how it was in the past.

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