Aber Artro Hall, near Llanbedr

Aber Artro Hall, near Llanbedr

Photo of Aber Artro Hall in 1913Several remarkable families have lived in this large house, which was remodelled in 1910. The photo shows the frontage in 1913.

In 1888 Patrick Shaw-Stewart was born here. After graduating from Balliol College, Oxford, he joined Barings Bank – becoming a managing director there aged 25. He joined the Royal Navy in 1914 and received the Legion d’Honneur and Croix de Guerre for his work with French forces. He was killed in France in 1917 and is remembered as a war poet on the strength of a solitary surviving poem. Our page in his memory is here.

Meanwhile Arts & Crafts architect Charles Edward Bateman had been engaged to rebuild the hall for new owner Mrs Antonia Marian Gamwell, a widow who remarried and became Mrs Owen. The grounds were also altered, exploiting the land’s natural fall towards the river Artro. Mrs Owen received the Royal Red Cross, First Class, in 1917 for her work as commandant of Aber Artro Auxiliary Hospital, which she had opened in her home to treat wounded soldiers.

Her daughters, Marian and Hope Gamwell, volunteered to drive ambulances in France and Belgium in the First World War. Sometimes they carried German casualties. Mrs Owen donated a large car which was fitted with several baths to form a mobile bath-house, where grateful troops washed and had their clothes laundered.

Photo of Gamwell sisters in 1964Soon after the war, Marian and Hope (picture left) trained as pilots. Their brother, Major Frederick Whittington Gamwell, had flown during the war with the Royal Naval Air Squadron and received the Greek Military Cross. The unmarried sisters farmed in Northern Rhodesia. Their botanical research is recalled in Gamwellia flava, an African plant. As the Second World War began, they returned to the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry, where Marian became Commandant. She was also involved in the recruitment of female agents to assist the anti-Nazi resistance in occupied countries.

After the Gamwells’ tenure, the hall lay empty for a few years until 1928, when the Cooke family moved in. The family firm, which made explosives at nearby Penrhyndeudraeth, had benefited from increased demand for munitions in the FWW.

Today the hall is a private residence (no public access). For details of the next charity opening of the grounds, please contact: paul.morgan@lineone.net

With thanks to Paul Morgan, Ian Singer and Kevin Titley

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Postcode: LL45 2PA