This image shows Esgair Llewelyn in Powys, one of the oldest farmhouses in Wales. It was built as a cruck-framed upland hallhouse c.1500. It would have originally had an open fire in the middle of the hall floor, but the building was remodelled in the 16th and 17th centuries to incorporate stone walls, fireplaces, and inserted ceilings, as well as additional domestic spaces. Further modifications in the 19th century included a slate roof and new windows, as well as the addition of stairs to chambers on the first floor where, today, several intact built-in beds survive amid the house’s crumbling remains.
The Grade II-listed building, which features in a new BBC documentary about Wales’ most vulnerable historic sites (for details, see below), has been uninhabited since 1909, but owner and farmer Edryd Davies has been working hard to preserve it with his father, Gruff. As Edryd tells presenter Will Millard (pictured) in Hidden Wales: Last Chance to Save: ‘Dad bought it, and he was quite keen to keep the house on its feet, just putting a few slates back, and we’ve just carried on with it.’
According to Richard Suggett, a historian and senior investigator at the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales (RCAHMW) who appears in the programme, the farm would have originally housed pastoral farmers with cattle; when the cameras visited, however, Edryd was busy shearing sheep. As Will comments, though: ‘What makes Esgair Llewelyn unique is that 500 years after it was first built, it’s still used for the same thing – a place to shelter and eat after a hard day working on the farm.’
Hidden Wales: Last Chance to Save is available on BBC iPlayer at www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m0014zsh/ hidden-wales-last-chance-to-save. For Richard Suggett’s report on Esgair Llewelyn, see Coflein, the online database for the National Monuments Record of Wales (https://coflein.gov.uk/en/site/29163/).
Text: H Blair; thanks to Richard Suggett and the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales for additional information (Crown copyright: RCAHMW) Image: BBC Cymru Wales/Lazerbeam Productions Editor’s note: For readers of CA 387 who were expecting to see an image of the Rutland Roman villa in this issue, we have agreed to cover it in even more detail later in the year, following further fieldwork on the site – watch this space for more news.