HISTORIC HOUSES OF WALES: NANNAU - Notes on Contents, History, etc.
Historic Home… not Museum. Lived in by a direct descendant of CADWGAN, who built the first house here in 1100 A.D., and was called the first Lord of Nannau.
Some of you will have heard the story of the Haunted Oak of Nannau. There are several versions, the most authentic being that of Robert Vaughan, the famous Antiquary, who lived at Hengwrt (1592-1667), whose collection of ancient Welsh books and Manuscripts was the foundation of the National Library of Wales.
He tells us that Hywel Sele, 7th in descent from Cadwgan, was living at Nannau at the time of Owain Glyndwr’s Rebellion; that “Hywel stood stiffly for the King”, so that “Owain came upon him with a great power of men, burnt his house, which was the stateliest mansion in all North Wales and led him away prisoner… It is said”, adds Robert, “that Owain caused Hywel to be lette down into a hollow oake, where he ended his days.”
That Oak stood in the Deer Park until 1813, when a later Robert Vaughan, (he who built the present house in 1796), was living at Nannau. On the night of July 28th it fell “from weight of age” and many interesting articles, (including this picture-frame), were made from its remains.
ENTRANCE HALL: Here you see the finding of the body of Hywel Sele, ten years after his death. He was then buried at Cymmer Abbey, with great pomp and ceremony.
Two prints of the oak in 1813, one from a sketch by Sir Richard Colt Hoare the very day before it fell.
These are the earlier family portraits, beginning with (8) [MORE] Hugh Nanney the Younger, born Armada year (1588). Grandson of Hugh Nanney Hen, (or Senior), who built a very large house here (according to the Bards) in 1581, (see stones in wall outside entrance), and who spent some years in Fleet Goal rather than pay an unjustly levied fine. Below Hugh The Younger hangs the agreement made with his father for “the peaceable enjoyment of Doluwcheogryd" in 1596, so we can assume that Hugh lived there as a boy. (Dolrhyd now belongs to Dr. Williams' School). Hugh’s son Gruffydd (2) (in armour) fought for Charles I, and it is thought that the house was destroyed in the Civil wars. Note young Gruffydd Nanney (8), his grandson, painted with his greyhound. The high chair used by him as a baby will be seen in the Oak Room. His brother Hugh (6), was the last male Nanney of Nannau. He only lived to be 31, but had held the offices of High Sheriff, Member of Parliament, Colonel of the Militia, (note his Drum, with the Blue Lion of Cadwgan), and Vice-Admiral or North Wales. At his death, Nannau passed, through his twin daughters first to the Vaughans of Corsygedol and then to the Vaughans of Hengwrt. (For other Portraits, Clock and Collection of Glass see Schedule).
Typical Adam Decoration of ceiling, and Georgian Chandeliers. Portrait (15), signed. “Medina 1697”, of the eldest of Colonel Hugh Nanney‘s four daughters, with the hoped-for (non-existent) heir of whom the Bards wrote. The Companion Picture (16) is by an inferior artist, 30 years later. The little girl is probably her niece Catherine, sister of the first Baronet. (Note her almost ridiculous likeness to her nephew, “Yr Hen Syr Robert” when aged 57… No.40 in Dining Room).
The other portraits are of the Vaughans of Hengwrt, beginning with Howell (17), grandson of the Antiquary, painted on copper (note Old Hengwrt Avenue), and ending with his great-grandson, Robert, (24),… over the cabinet, of whome we shall hear more in tho Dinning Room.
30 CABINET Painted by Brille, 17th Century Flemish (Reputed to have been given to the family by Charles II).
27/28 CHINESE CHIPPENDALE CHAIRS AND TABLE
Some of family interest, e.g. Nanney Twins (2 and 3) [MORE]
Three little Vaughan Brothers (15, 16 and 17).
Some of Historic interest.
e.g. Jane Lane (23)
Bonnie Prince Charlie (24)
No.10 is by Cosway.
Made by blind Indian orphans, to the special order or the late General Vaughan when serving with his Regiment in India in 1908.
(33) CHINA CABINETS
(A) Chelsea, Dresden and and Bow Figures.
(B) Chamberlain - Worcester Tea Service, etc. etc.
32 Hester Bateman silver cups. (Commemorating the ending of a successful lawsuit which returned Hengwrt the the Vaughans).
34 [MORE] Seals and Rings, etc.
35 Battersea Enamel
36 18th century Chatelaine, Jacobite Souvenir Pincushions, etc.
DINING ROOM (or “The SIR ROBERT WILLIAMS VAUGHAN Room”)
“YR HEN SYR ROBERT (1768-1848)” Represented his County at Westminster for 44 years (1792-1836). Built the present house, numerous farms, cottages and bridges and many miles of roads and walls.
PORTRAIT (40) [MORE] by Drummond, in 1825, aged 57 (Note bust of his patron, William Pitt).
Pastel Pictures of Robert (aged 16) and his youngest brother Griffith, the year their father was High Sheriff 1784.
The second brother (Edward’s) picture will be seen later.
PORTRAIT of youngest brother Griffith (45).
PORTRAIT of his only son, ROBERT, 3rd and last Baronet (42) [MORE] for whose Coming-of-Age celebrations in 1824 a new Kitchen wing was added and the White Ox (48) [MORE] was killed. The “Barron”, weighing 165 lbs., was roasted, and the horns and forfeet (59) [MORE] were made into a Candelabra. (The Stockman in the picture is the great-great-Uncle of the present Nannau Shepherd).
Also made for the occasion were the (61) [MORE] Ceubren Cups and the (60) Candlesticks, made from the remains at Hywel Sele’s Oak.
Some of the chimneys of the cottages built by Yr Hen Syr Robert were modelled on this same pattern, taken from the old Bangor Archdeaconry. Another unique feature of Sir Robert's buildings is the date and initials formed from port bottles. There is a good example of this on the South Gable of the Home Farm.
COLLECTION OF SILVER (Not usually shown)
CHARLES II TANKARD (1681)
MONTEITH PUNCH BOWL (1700)
[MORE] QUEEN ANNE CANDLESTICKS (1710)
GEORGE II BEER JUGS (1751)
GEORGE II SOUP TOUREENS
Yr Hen Syr Robert Vaughan’s Over-shoe.
(58) [MORE] CARRYING CHAIR dating from 1620. Used by the corpulent Richard Vaughan of Corsygedol for whome the double doors of the House of Commons always had to be opened (1638).
The dates are those of Sir Robert Vaughan’s representation of the County at Westminster.
TABLE [MORE] Also originally at Corsygedol. Traditionally the table on which Charles I’s Death Warrant was signed. (One Of the signatories, Colonel John Jones, lived near Corsygedol).
For other pictures etc. consult Schedule.
Three Portraits by James Fellowes (73-75):
(73) [MORE] WILLIAM VAUGHAN of CORSYGEDOL
(74) [MORE] His Wife CATHERINE, elder twin of Colonel Hugh Nanney.
(75) [MORE] Their only daughter ANNE.
(76) BARBER’s CHAIR (18th century)
(77) [MORE] Picture of the battle between Owain Glyndwr and Hywel Sele, signed “Barker 1798”
(78) Portrait of an earlier WILLIAM VAUGHAN ot CORSYGEDOL 1632-1669, grand-father of above. Signed by Michael Wright, 1667.
UPPER STAIRS (Best seen from half-way up stairs to Oak Room).
[MORE] Conversation Piece, depicting OMAI, the South Sea Islander brought to England by Captain Cook in 1775, with Sir Joseph Banks Doctor Solander, the two Botanists who accompanied Cook on his voyages. Painted by a pupil of Sir Joshuah Reynolds - William Parry, son of the blind Harpist of Wynnstay.
(125) Paintings by “BAPTISTE” (Jean Baptiste Monnoyer 1636-1699).
(127) HONDECOETER (1636-1695).
(128) LYNN (Signed and dated 1826).
(130) [MORE] GRUFFYDD NANNEY’S HIGH CHAIR 1669 (Boy with Greyhound in Hall).
(85) Pastel Picture of Yr Hen Syr Robert Vaughan’s second brother Edward, who, at the age of thirteen, inherited the property of Rhug from tho Salusbury family, and adopted the additional name of Salusbury. (Name “doodled” all over his Eton College Prayer Book. No doubt he boasted to his fellow scholars about “my place in Wales!”). He commanded the Grenadier Guards during the earlier Napoleonic Campaigns, but died at Syracuse (1807 - hence no portrait).
(88) Set of Cutlery, used by Colonel Vaughan-Salusbury on Foreign Service.
(89) WATER COLOUR PAINTINGS of tho Armies of Europe, collected by him during Flanders Campaign 1793-1796 (Found in Album, and framed by Brigadier Vaughan in 1957).
(87) BATTALION ORDERS, 1st Batt., 1st Guards on Foreign Service, commencing 26th Feb., 1793.
(103) COROMANDEL LACQUER CABINET
(90) [MORE] Model of British Man o’ War, made by French Prisoners of War in Salop Goal, from the bones of their rations and their own hair.
Welsh Oak Dressers, with Oriental China collected by Brigadier Vaughan’s Grandfather, Sir Charles Pritchard, when in the Indian Political Service.
(92) [MORE] BRONZE BUCKET 600 B.C.
Only one other discovered in British Isles… In Ireland. Others in South East Europe.
(93/94) Other Prehistoric weapons [MORE]
Picture, probably by Frans Hals.
(102) [MORE] Paintings on hessian of Old Nannau and Old Rhug, from sketches by Moses Griffiths in the National Library of Wales. (Part of the tower can be seen in tho West Wall of the present building).
(101) Stone from Hugh Nanney Hen’s 1581 house. (Others in wall outside entrance).
BREAKFAST ROOM (The GENERAL JOHN VAUGHAN ROOM).
Portrait of the late General, who was a great soldier and sportsman, surrounded by sporting and military prints and souvenirs.
(145) Tenth Hussars Ceremonial Harness.
(141) [MORE] Spear with which he won the Kadir Cup, hoof of pony and tushes of boars killed.
[MORE] Pictures of some of his favourite and most famous horses.
Picture, (from a photograph) of the General, as a boy, with his pony outside this window.
Most of the original period furniture and effects were sold off at auction, by direction of Brigadier C.H.V. Vaughan, D.S.O., D.L, J.P.
The sale included one-thousand lots and comprised of: English and French 19th century chandeliers, oil paintings, watercolours, prints, engravings, silver, china, glass, ornamental items, books, soft furnishings, etc. which Beresford Adams & Sons - Estate Agents - Surveyors - Auctioneers - Valuers. The Cross, Chester, will sell by auction on the premises on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday 14th, 15th and 16th June, 1965. Commencing at 11:00am promptly.
VIEW DAYS: Friday and Saturday, 11th and 12th June, 1965, from 10:00am to 4:00pm.
Following the disposal of the mansion with a few acres of surrounding land, and the Owner’s intention to reside in a smaller home nearer Dolgellau, the major portion of the contents is being sold by auction on the instructions of Brigadier C.H.V. Vaughan, D.S.O., D.L, J.P.
It is interesting to note that Nannau, a Georgian house standing 700ft. above Dolgellau amid some of the most delightful scenery in Britain, is probably the fifth on the site, built 1788-96. The first known house was erected in 1100 by Cadwgan ap Bleddyn, Prince of Powys from whom the Nannau (or Nanney) and Vaughan family, descend.
And so there has been a member of this old Welsh family at Nannau for well over 800 years, thus creating a wealth of principality and family history, instructive, interesting and varied. It naturally follows that the mansion itself with its many antiquities, armorial stones, royal arms and family portraits (not to be sold) will attract considerable attention.