Llys Owain, Llanfairfechan

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Link to French translationLlys Owain, Park Crescent, Llanfairfechan

Llys Owain, formerly known as Haulfre, is one half of a pair of late Victorian semi-detached houses in Park Crescent. It was totally remodelled by Herbert Luck North in 1905 for the owners in the ‘Modern Style’. It demonstrates that he had a talent for converting older buildings to the Arts and Crafts fashion of the age, as well as designing the new buildings which you can see around Llanfairfechan.

Llys Owain is a private house, with no public access from the pavement. Compare Llys Owain with the house next door to get an idea of the changes Herbert North made. He also enlarged the house, for its new role as a guest house.

By the 1940s the house belonged to David and Mary Thoday. David (1883-1964), was born in Devon, to parents of eastern European origin and became professor of botany at the University College of North Wales, Bangor, in 1923. The university’s Thoday Building commemorates him.

Mary Gladys Thoday (née Sykes) hailed from Rossett, near Wrexham, and was herself a noted botanist, at Girton and Newnham colleges in Cambridge. She assisted David in his research in Africa and Britain.

She was a suffragist (non-militant campaigner for women to have the vote). In 1917 she co-authored a letter from numerous organisations to Prime Minister David Lloyd George which demanded that women be part of the elections to the first post-war Parliament.

Mary was joint secretary of the Women’s Peace Council in the 1920s, and played a leading role in establishing the Welsh branches of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. She died in 1943.

During the Second World War Mary and David invited people who had fled persecution in mainland Europe to live here. Between 1939 and 1945, six refugee families stayed here.

John Thoday, one of the couple’s four sons, was Cambridge University’s head of genetics 1959 -1982, an expert on how environment and genetics influenced evolution. He had been an RAF photographic intelligence officer in the war, attaining the rank of squadron leader. He died in 2008. Cambridge’s drosophila (fruit fly) lab is named the John Thoday Laboratory.

With thanks to Andrew Hinchliff and Pam Phillips

Postcode: LL33 0AU    View Location Map

Navigation next button To continue the HL North Arts & Crafts tour, continue to the end of Park Crescent then turn right into Station Road. Go up to the crossroads and turn right to the war memorial