WELSH SCENERY - WALK FROM DOLGELLEY TO NANNAU (1828)
Nannau (The Ravines) the seat of Sir Robert Vaughan, Bart, is about three miles from Dolgelley and placed high among the fills in the north-east part of Merionethshire. The road thither is nearly one continues acclivity, so that it is, perhaps situated higher than any gentleman’s house in Wales. It is a plain, substantial stone building and was erected by its present hospitable proprietor on the the site of the ancient structure. It fronts the south in which direction the prospect is bounded by the green hills in the vicinity of Gwanas and Caerynwch, and, on the opposite side, by those above Llanfachreth.
Immediately behind the house, or rather on one side of it, rises a huge and gloomy mass of rock called Moel Oerthtom or the Mount of Oppression. Why thus named is not known: Pennant, however, supposes it to have been a British post,–“the station perhaps of some tyrant.”
The park at Nannau is well supplied with venison, which is small in size, but, like the mountain mutton, of excellent flavour. It contains the ruins of the mansion of Howel Sele, on the site of which Sir Robert has lately erected a Gothic lodge, which, situated as it is among so many wild hill, has a very picturesque appearance. The estate belonging to Nannau, is stocked with a large quantity of one timber, Unlike many of our landed proprietors, Sir Robert has carefully preserved his noblest trees untouched by the rude stroke of the axe; and in the woods round Nannau abundantly testy the good effects of the worthy baronet’s policy. The gardens cannot be called extensive, but they produce very good fruit, and, considering their exposed situation, evince in the proprietor of Nannau a large proportion of zeal for the pleasant and useful science of Horticulture.
Passing over the Pont Vawr, we turn to the right, and follow the course of the road till we come to the gate which leads to Llwyn, a distance of about a quarter of a mile from the town. Here the highway diverges into to distinct roads, the lower one on the right leading to Bala, and that on the left to Nannau and Llanfachraeth. At this spot an acclivity commences, which continues with little interruption all the way to Nannau; and a most rough and ragged road it is, but rendered, however, as passable as the nature of the soil and situation would permit.
On the left of the acclivity are the remains of an extensive wood (Llwyn) which is now, deprived of much of it’s ancient stateliness by the removal of nearly all its large and venerable trees, and seems to sympathize in the decay of the mansion by the river’s brink below. Yet the wild strawberry plants and green and green hazel bushes thrive, as they were won't to do, amidst the mournful scene, and the wandering school-boy will still repair thither, on the evening of the summer’s day, to feast on the fruit, which he may find there.
After a good deal of stout walking we reach the summit of the hill, and proceed onward on level ground for about half a mile or more, when we enter a deep wood through, through which the road leads on to Nannau.
But there is a sight or two worth viewing on the comparatively fertile flat. First, we have the old and almost ruinous house and granaries of Garthmaelan before us, with the neat circular summer house on a hillock on one side. Just below is a scarcely discernible cottage,–so lowly in its turf covered roof,–of now great importance in the landscape, but not devoid if interest in a traditionary point of view. The name of the cottage is Berthllwyd, and it once belonged to Gruffydd ab Gwyn, of Garnllwyd. This Gruffydd ab Gwyn thought proper to quarrel with the Cambrian Patriot; Owain Glyndwr, and it is said, that he actually dared to attack then chieftain with a party of his followers. He was, however defeated, with the loss of many of his men, and his two houses of Cefn Coch and Berthllwyd were burnt nearly to “cold coals,” as the venerable historian Gwydir calls it. This effectively cured the doughty Gruffydd from any further attempt, and he annoyed Glyndwr no more.
The approach to Nannau is though a winding avenue of fine old forest trees, and one can scarcely help being impresses, with something akin to awe, as he passes beneath their wide spreading and umbrageous foliage if the idea that he is drawing near to the residence of some ancient and wealthy family. The house is still not visible till nearly the extremity of the avenue is gained, and then it presents itself to view in all its substantial neatness and simplicity.
In front of a small lawn, decorated with some fine specimens of the mainly horned sheep, the oves polycerulw of Linnaeus. Behind are the offices and a good sized llyn, well stocked with perch and eels; and still further in this direction is the wood, which shelters from the mansion from the cold north wind of winter. If a person, who had not seen Nannau for these twenty or thirty years, were to go into Merionethshire, and see it now, he would be surprised at the improvements, which have been made to the estate, during that time. Ardently attached to agricultural pursuits, Sir Robert has fertilised the hills on his estate, and, by judicious and well executed plans, considerably augmented the value of the land.
But it is not as a lover of agriculture only, (which is in itself highly meritorious,) that Sir Robert is deserving of our eulogy, it is for all those qualities, which acorn and dignify the British country gentleman, and the independent Member of Parliament. Always careful of the welfare of the poor around him,–patronising the industry, ingenuity, and good conduct of his more humble countrymen,–hospitable in the extreme,–kind affable, and benevolent, he fulfils, in every respect, the happy duties of the wealthy British landholder; and, by his generous courtesy, he has insured to himself the undivided esteem and veneration of every Welshman in Merionethshire. This brief and humble tribute to the goodness of Sir Robert Vaughan will I am convinced, be excused by those who have not the pleasure of his acquaintance, and I am equally confident, that it will be commended by those–and they are too many–who are honoured by his friendship: they too will bear willing witness to the justice of these remarks,–while I, who have so frequently experience the kindness of the worthy baronet, have fulfilled a most gratifying duty, in thus enumerating the principle virtues of the benevolent and hospitable proprietor of Nannau.
(Printed below “Walk from Dolgelley to Nannau”)
I remember, when I was last in Wales, returning with a friend from Nannau, between nine and ten, on a most lovely summer’s night, the moon
With undiminished lustre hanging High in the dark blue firmament, cast an inexpressible charm over the scene, as her pale beams pierced through the foliage of the majestic trees of the avenue. There was a sort of chaste and fascinating languor in the scene. The entire hush of the still evening, the beauty of the surrounding scenery was such, as to engender feelings of pure and holy tranquility; and long did we linger amid the wild woods of Nannau on that lovely summer night. When we reached the part of the road in the vicinity of Berthlwyd, the objects, which we had seen in the morning brightly illuminated by the mid-day sun, were now reposing in a brightness far more gentle and beautiful.
The moon-beams gleamed partially on Garthmaelan, the old circular summer house stood visible in the pale light before us and part only of the “turf-clad roof” of Berthlwyd was revealed to our view. Above and beneath us were the gloomy woods of Nannau, Garthmaelan, and Llwyn, were the green heather hills of Merionethshire.
The very respectful family, of which Sir Robert is now the nen-bren, has been long renowned for its worth and hospitality, “for,” says Oldfield, in his Representative History, page 80, “Some branch or other if is has represented the county of Merioneth in parliament for the last one hundred and twenty years.”
HOUSE OF NANNAU
On Thursday last the son and heir of Sir Robert Vaughan, M.P. for the county of Merioneth, attained his majority for the celebration of which joyful event, the most enlarged preparations have been for some time making at Nannau, the family mansion of Sir Robert, and by his numerous tenantry and friends in various parts of the country. At Dolgelle, Bala, and all the intermediate and neighbouring towns and villages, festivities in every form and variety commenced on the above day.
At day-break in the morning, 21 rounds of guns were fired off from Cader Idris, which were returned from guns placed on eminence, near Nannau. At the same early hour, the bells of Dolgelly steeple commenced ringing in harmonious peal, and continued during the whole of the day. The bugles and trumpets of the Merionethshire militia struck up the revalley, and continued playing martial and other airs; flags were displayed on the towers of the church, and in different parts of the town.
At one o’clock a grand procession was formed which proceeded from Dolgelle to Nannau, consisting of a great number of respectable gentleman on horseback, followed by an innumerable multitude on foot; next followed and elegant mail coach, drawn by four beautiful brown horses, richly decorated with laurel and ribbons, mounting a coachman and two guards, elegantly dressed in red and gold, and carrying fourteen banners and afterwards followed a great number of gentleman in carriages. On the arrival of the procession near Nannau it was met by Sir R.W. Vaughan, Esq., the young heir, and about 50 other gentleman of the first respectability in North Wales, when greetings and cheerings of the most lively, (description anerceeded?), in the air resounding with joyful (socianations?).
At Nannau a capacious tent was erected, capable of dining 200 individuals, and in which not less than 150 gentlemen partook of a dinner of the most excellent description, and of abundance of wines; – and also of cwrw da which had been brewed at the time of the young man’s birth – Sir R. Vaughan presided upon the occasion; Col. Vaughan acted as vice-president, and the young heir of Nannau was placed on his right.
Other accommodations was prepared for the rest of the company, about 300 of whom sat down to elegant dinners. A number of Welsh bards and harpers we in attendance, who at intervals delighted the company with song, recitation, and musical performances. The weather was delightfully beautiful, and the whole of the day was spent in such a manner as powerfully to awaken in the mind a recollection of the olden time, when British hospitality, and mutual regards between landlords and tenants, relgued supremely.
We had almost forgot to notice, than our high-spirited neighbour, Mrs. Tomlinson, had at her entire expense, sent her coach, coachman, and guards to give (ceint?) to the celebration, and the compliment was felt not only by the immediate connexions of the family, but by her numerous Cambrian friends, for whose comforts convenience, and pleasure, she is ever prompt to make the most willing sacrificed,
While the festivities were proceeding at Nannau, at several of the principle inns in Dolgelle, elegant dinners were provided and bullocks and sheep were roasted, which with plentiful libations of ale were distributed to the populace – In the course of the day a very handsome balloon was sent off from Dolgelle, which took a fine ascent, and gave to the wondering sons of Cambria an exhibition which is extremely rare in the part of the country. – A general illumination at Dolgelle closed the mirthful scenes of this joyous day, which will long be remembered by the inhabitants with pleasure and delight. – It was not however alone in the neighbourhood of the worthy baronet that these marks of homage were paid to him and his ancient house. At Bala, the scene was animating and respectful; at the head inn, about a hundred gentlemen sat down to a public dinner, and in the evening there was a general illumination. There was also an illumination at Corwen, where also was an ox roasted, and other scenes of merriment occurred. In our next, we shall give further particulars.
REJOINCINGS ON THE COMING OF AGE OF ROBERT WILLIAMES VAUGHAN, ESQ. (FURTHER PARTICULARS)
We last week noticed some few particulars of the celebration of this suspicious event at Nannau, the mansion of Sir R.W. Vaughan, and the neighbouring towns of Dolgelle, Bala, &c. – Among the gentlemen who sat down to dinner at Nannay, were the following individuals:–
(list to follow)
The public rejoicings at the coming of age of the heir of the house of Nannau, have not been confined within the immediate neighbourhood of the place of its residence, but have extended through various portions of the mother part of the Principality – a proof of the very high estimate in which the family is universally held. – To what we offered last week, we now add the following additional particulars:
On Friday the 25th ult, Robert Williames Vaughan, of Nannau, Esquire, completed his 21st year. – The morning was ushered in by the ringing of the bells at Myfod, Llansaintffraid, Llanfyllin and Llanfechau, and the firing of cannon upon different parts of the estate at Ystymeolwen; at twelve o’clock a remarkable fine ox, provided by the tenants, was distributed to the poor of the parishes of Myfod and Llansaintffraid, together with a plentiful supply of cwrw da and bread, as also a sheep given by Mr. Phillips, of Myford. John Jones, Esq. of Maesmawr, also gave fifty gallons of ale to the poor of Myfod and thus were upwards of 300 families retailed upon this joyful occasion.
The tenantry and well-wishers of Sir Robert Williames Vaughan, Bart, afterwards assembled at the mansion house of Ystymcolwen, where a most excellent dinner was provided at the expense of the worthy Baronet.; upwards of 100 gentlemen of the neighbourhood and tenants sat down at four o’clock, and the chair was taken by Sir Robert’s agent, Mr. Walter Jones. On the cloth being removed, the chairman, in a neat and concise speech, proposed the health of Mr. Vaughan, the heir of Ystymcolwen, which was drank in an elegant silver cup provided for the occasion. The health of the worthy baronet was next proposed, and drank with the most enthusiastic applause, and was followed by the healths of the rest of the worthy members of the houses of Nannau, Rug and Mostyn. The evening was spent in the greatest glee, and the party did not separate till an early hour in the morning, quitting the old Mansion highly delighted with the hospitable entertainment of the respected landlord.
– The cup is of an acorn shape: on one side is the following inscription – “Llwyddiant i Etifedd Ystymcolwen, R.W.V. 25th June, 1824;” on the opposite side is the figure of a Hand holding a Scales, with the words on each, “Landlord and Tenant;” at the top. “Do though likewise;” and below, “Walter Powell Jones;” around the rim of the cup, “Cyfiawndr rhwng Penneth a Thyddynwr a lawenha wldd.”
THE LATE SIR ROBERT VAUGHAN, BART.
Our obituary of this day recounts a very mournful event, the demise of Sir Robert Williams Vaughan, Bart., of Nannau. In an affecting letter from the neighbourhood, dated Saturday, the writer thus briefly but feelingly describes it:–
“The worthy Baronet of Nannau is no more! He expired this morning, at 20 minutes past 6 o’clock, seemingly without any pain or emotion whatever. The good Sir Robert had been complaining for these last 10 days, but he appeared to be decidedly convalescent; indeed so much so, that he took his accustomed place at the dinner table yesterday, and was in excellent spirits,–pleasant and cheerful as usual. His family are all in deep affliction; and Nannau is a house of woe! The shock came as a thunderbolt on all, and more especially on those who had seem him so much better, and so much himself again the whole of yesterday.”
The deceased Baronet has left a kind hearted and amiable widow to mourn her irreparable loss, and an excellent son who, together with his father’s honours and estates, we have been assured, inherits also his virtues. But it is no disparagement to him to express our apprehension that, although a worthy scion of an ancient stock, it will be long ere the gap be made up, which that Father’s lamented removal from a sense of usefulness has made in society.
Thos who knew him best will most fully appreciate his loss. For strong common sense, and shrewdness of intellect, as well as real kindness of heart, he was unsurpassed by none of his contemporaries. In the daily practice of unbounded, but unostentatious hospitality, he exhibited a faithful picture of the old country gentleman, a worthy race, which the more artificial state of society, in the present day, is fastsweeping away from amongst us.
His loss will be long and deeply felt by every grade. The lighter ranks will lament his loss as a valuable member of their body, ever ready to contribute an ample share to the cheerful pleasures of the social circles:–attentive, too, on all occasions, to the higher requisites of his high station, the promotion of his country’s good.
He represented in Parliament the county of Merioneth for forty-four years. He was a kind and considerate Landlord, at all times ready to consult the good of a numerous tenantry, and with his valuable advice to further their best interests. To his inferiors he was affable and condescending,–the poor man’s best friend, not so much by indiscriminate almsgiving, as by adopting that course which tends to preserve and foster his independence of character,–by supplying him with work.
This hasty sketch, so unworthy of such a subject, we are now indured(sic) to insert, in default of a more particular and circumstantial account of this estimable character.
The late Baronet succeed his father, Sir Robert Howell in 1790; Married September, 1801, Anna Maria, daughter of the late Sir Roger, and sister of the late Sir Thomas Mostyn, Baronet, and has issue, Robert Williames, born June 25, 1803, Married July 1835, Frances, daughter of Edward Lloyd, Esq. of Rhagatt.
He sat in Parliament for the county of Merioneth from 1792 to June 25th 1836, when he resigned.
THE LATE SIR ROBERT VAUGHAN, BART.–It is our painful duty, says the North Wales Chronicle, to announce the death, on the 29th ult, at Storey’s Hotel, Dover-street, London of Sir Robert Williames Vaughan, Bart. of Rhug, Hengwrt and Nannau, in Merionethshire, the third baronet of his very ancient family which has held the domains of Nannau, in direct descent, from Cadwgan, Lord of Nannau, who was slain in 1107, one of the sons of Bleddyn ap Cynvyn, Prince of Powis.
Sir Robert was the only child of Sir Robert Williames Vaughan, the second baronet, who uninterruptedly represented in Parliament the county of Merionethshire for 44 years, by Anna Maria, one of the daughters of Sir Roger Mostyn, of Mostyn, Bart.
The deceased baronet was born June 25th, 1803. In 1835 he married Francis Margaret, eldest daughter of Edward Lloyd, Esq. of Rhagatt, late Chairman of the Quarter Sessions for Merionethshire. Dying without issue the baronetage becomes extinct. The remains were interred on Friday, the 6th inst. in the family vault in Llanfachreth.
SINGULAR DISCOVER IN WALES
A few days ago Mr. Howel Pugh, of Tyddyn-bach Farm, in the parish of Llanfachreth, near Dolgellau, discovered a vault, containing human remains, in a field which he was preparing to plough. The field rises abruptly in the centre, like several other fields in the locality, and on this eminence stood, and has stood, it may also be said from time immemorial, a huge stone, which interfered with ploughing operations.
Mr. Pugh therefor, determined to move it, though the task was one of considerable difficulty. It was at first proposed to resort to blasting, but eventually the stone was dragged away by a team of horses. A deep hole was then found on the spot which had been covered by the stone, and at the bottom of the hole, very dark earth mixed with stones. With the aid of a crowbar Mr. Pugh discovered that there was probably a cavity lower down, and a little excavation revealed a stone vault containing human remains, a brass dagger, and a gold ring.
It is suggested that the tomb is that of a soldier who fell in one of the battles which were fought in this locality, and that several similar tombs might be discovered. The stone, it is said, bore no inscription. The farm is the property of Mr. John Vaughan, of Nannau.
Early Bronze Age; tanged bronze spearhead, the triangular blade with flat central rib, short tang with single rivet hole, 1750 - 1450 B.C., 5.4375 in overall length. Formerly at Nannau and thence by descent.
Found in a cist (? with human remains) underlying an upright monolith at the centre of a round mount at Tyddyn-bach, Llanfachreth, Merionethshire in 1873.
National Museum of Wales, Guide Catalogue of the Bronze Age Collections, 1980, Fig 27, No. 336, taken from the electrotype copy of the spearhead in the National Collection.
Sold for £480 in 2008.
Courtesy of Robert Finan and Co. (Lot 142).