Cestyll Garden, Cemaes

button-theme-womenCestyll Garden, Cemaes

Here the Wales Coast Path skirts Cestyll Garden, a Grade II-registered Historic Park and Garden. It’s now part of the grounds of the former Wylfa nuclear power station.

Photo of Violet Vivian at Cestyll Garden in 1931
Violet Mary Vivian at Cestyll Garden
© Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Once part of the Carreglwyd Estate, Cestyll House and the surrounding land was purchased by Walter Warwick Vivian - notorious manager of the Dinorwig slate quarry near Llanberis – in 1918 as a gift for Violet Mary Vivian, his niece and ward. She was the main designer of Cestyll Garden. Part of it was designed by her friend, Princess Victoria, daughter of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra.

The upper photo shows Violet in the garden. In the lower photo, Violet is on the right and on the left is Grand Duchess Xenia of Russia (brother of the last Tsar, executed by Bolshevik revolutionaries in 1918). Both photos were taken by Princess Victoria in 1931.

An extensive assessment of the garden in 2018 by Gwynedd Archaeological Trust recorded three elements: a 19th-century former walled kitchen garden; the site of Cestyll House (demolished in 1991 having become unsafe); and the valley garden designed by Violet.

Photo of Violet Vivian and Duchess Xenia at Cestyll Garden
Violet Vivian and Duchess Xenia at Cestyll Garden
© Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

She and her twin sister Dorothy served as maids of honour to Queen Alexandra and her daughters, Princesses Victoria and Alice. The twin sisters were popular at court and in 1905 Dorothy married Earl Haig in the private chapel of Buckingham Palace, in the presence of the King and Queen. Earl Haig was later the controversial Commander-in-Chief of the British forces in France in the First World War.

Violet continued to serve Queen Alexandra until her death in 1925, after which she made Cestyll her home. Princess Victoria frequently visited her here.

Violet local activities included chairing the Bangor Infirmary Ladies’ Committee. She was a leading Red Cross worker, with a focus on district nurses’ welfare. In 1945 she was awarded an MBE for her public service in the region.

She died at Cestyll in 1962, aged 82. Cestyll was inherited by her niece, Baroness Astor of Hever. The valley garden contains several memorials to Violet, Walter and other family members, along with pets.

With thanks to Dr Hazel Pierce, of The History House, Gwynedd Archaeological Trust and the Royal Collection Trust

Postcode: LL67 0DU    View Location Map

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