Hafodunos Hall, Llangernyw

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Hafodunos Hall was designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott, architect of other grand Victorian buildings such as the Midland Grand Hotel at London St Pancras station. He designed many Welsh churches but Hafodunos was the only secular building of his erected in Wales. The photo of the hall c.1885 is by John Thomas and shown here courtesy of Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru – the National Library of Wales.

Photo of Hafodunos Hall c.1885The Hall, completed in 1866, incorporated new technology such as central heating and running water. The property’s history goes back much further. The name Hafodunos means “summer dwelling of one night” and is associated with a legend that St Winifred rested overnight here in the 7th century while en route from Holywell, where she had been beheaded but restored to life by St Beuno, to Gwytherin, where she was buried. It’s said that a monastery was built here.

The Hafodunos Estate was established in about the early 13th century by the Lloyd family, which descended from Tudwal the Lame, youngest son of Rhodri Mawr (9th-century King of Gwynedd). He got his epithet after his injuries at the Battle of Conwy in 881, where his service was rewarded with a gift of lands.

A manor house was built at Hafodunos in 1674 and remained in the Lloyd family until 1830, when slave-owner Samuel Sandbach of Liverpool bought the property. His son, Henry Robertson Sandbach (1807-1895), played a central part in Llangernyw’s Victorian development. When the British government abolished slavery in 1833, it compensated Henry for the loss over of 2,400 slaves in British Guiana. He received c.£130,000 (over £15m in today’s money) while the slaves themselves received no compensation.

Henry ordered the demolition of the old manor and erection of Scott’s new hall. His first marriage, in 1832, was to Margaret Sandbach, who was a poet and patron of sculptor John Gibson. Henry commissioned a memorial window to her after she died of breast cancer in 1852. The gardens outside the new hall were landscaped according to the ideas which she never had the chance to implement.

After the Sandbach’s ownership ended in 1933, Hafodunos Hall was used for various purposes including an accountancy college and girls’ school. It lay empty for many years from 1993, and was badly damaged by arson in 2004. It has undergone restoration since its purchase in 2010 by Dr Richard Wood.

Sources include the Centre for the Study of Legacies of British Slave-ownership

Postcode: LL22 8TY    View Location Map

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