Grounds of Y Plas, Machynlleth

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An extensive estate was developed around Plas Machynlleth (now known as Y Plas) by John Edwards (d.1789) and his descendants. In 1919 a fete was held here to celebrate peace after the First World War.

John Edwards’ son, Sir John Edwards, expanded the grounds after marrying Harriet Herbert, a widow from Dolforgan, Newtown. Her daughter, Harriet Averina Herbert, had inherited from her father a house and grounds called Llynlloedd, just over the road from Y Plas.

Parliament passed an Act which allowed Sir John to give his stepdaughter his land in Kerry in exchange for Llynlloedd in 1831. Harriet Averina sold him buildings in Heol Pentrerhedyn 14 years later. To unify his two grounds, Sir John simply had Heol Pentrerhedyn moved westwards! The buildings were demolished and the whole area was landscaped.

Decorative gates and two lodges were installed at the entrance when the grounds were further enlarged in 1853.

King George V and Queen Mary visited Machynlleth in July 1911 after laying the foundation stone of the National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth. They were accompanied by the Prince of and Princess of Wales. All four planted a tree each in the grounds of Y Plas.

The Rose Garden features a bust of Mary Cornelia (1828-1906), Sir John’s daughter. She inherited Y Plas in 1850, having already married the Marquess of Londonderry. The bust originally stood in Penrallt Street and was made in 1907 by Countess Fedora von Gleichen, first female member of the Royal British Society of Sculptors.

During the First World War, Lord Herbert Vane-Tempest (who owned Y Plas) allowed parts of the grounds to be ploughed for food production. This was held up as an example to other wealthy landowners as concerns grew about food supply, with German submarines disrupting imports.

In July 1919 the grounds hosted Machynlleth’s peace celebrations. Sports events included a tug-of-war between ex-soldiers and another between soldiers and civilians. There was also dancing and a fancy-dress carnival parade. Bonfires were lit in the evening on hillsides around the town.

The estate was broken up in 1931, with parts sold to pay tax bills. In 1948 the Marquess of Londonderry gave the community the remaining ground, later used as football and rugby pitches and for construction of Bro Ddyfi Leisure Centre.

In 2018 Machynlleth Town Council and local residents created a First World War memorial garden at the Rose Garden which includes a commemorative poppy bench.

Sources include ‘Plas Machynlleth, A Historical Guide’, by James Barfoot, 1996

Postcode: SY20 8ER    View Location Map

To continue the Machynlleth in WW1 tour, leave the grounds of Y Plas and go northwards along the main road to the prominent clock tower
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