|Llangollen: the River Dee and corn mill taken from the town bridge|
During our recent trip by coach to North Wales we were taken to Llangollen, Denbighshire which is probably most well-known for hosting the International Music Festival (Eisteddford). This is now held in a permanent building, the Royal Pavilion, where all-year events take place. You can read about Llangollen and places of interest nearby here.
As usual, our time was limited to an afternoon and so we chose to take a walk out of town to visit Plas Newydd; the house and garden which had once been the home of 'the Ladies of Llangollen'.
The two ladies, Lady Eleanor Butler and Miss Sarah Ponsonby, were both of Irish aristocratic descent. Their close friendship caused them to leave Ireland to escape from unwanted suitors and start a new life in Llangollen in 1778 where they lived together with their maid, Mrs Mary Caryll, for almost 50 years.
The house and garden is in an area of outstanding natural beauty and with the ruins of the Cistercian Abbey, Valle Crucis, nearby and dramatic views of the ruins of a 13th century castle, Castell Dinas Bran on the hillside above the ladies attracted the attention of many well-known personalities of Regency society such as the Duke of Wellington, William Wordsworth and Sir Walter Scott who came to visit them.
Originally Plas Newydd was a small cottage, but the women soon started to make alterations and additions to the building in the Gothic style. The interior was decorated with oak carving and stained glass was inserted into oriel windows. Visitors brought gifts that formed a collection of antiquarian objects; pictures, wooden panels and furnishings, many of which would have come from 18th century churches that were being remodelled and upgraded in a different style and, therefore, discarded.
Unfortunately, there wasn't time to look around the interior of the house as the walk uphill took quite a time. Also photography is not allowed inside the house. After a cup of tea in the stable block I left my husband there and went over to the house to look at the carving on the exterior and walk around the formal gardens in front of it (created after the Ladies' life-time). Then I wandered off into the informal area of the grounds that Lady Eleanor and Miss Ponsonby would have designed and cultivated and which would have delighted their guests.
|Plas Newydd with a view of Castell Dinas Bran on the hill|
|The nearby Valle Crucis Abbey|
Our driver stopped so that we could take a look at the ruins from the coach window!
|The stable block tea room and shop|
|Stone carvings of the three ladies are incorporated into the archway.|
|It was very appropriate to see the resident cat|
as there's a painting of the ladies' pet cats
hanging in the house. I bought a poster of it
since I didn't see the real one.
I will write some more about Plas Newydd next time. I hope you will click onto the links
to read more about Llangollen.