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History Of Nanteos Mansion

history nanteos mansionNantoes Mansion was built by the Powell family between 1738 and 1759 near Aberystwyth.

The Powell family were a rich local family, whose wealth stemmed from their resource rich lead and silver mines at Cwmystwyth and Llywernog.

The house was built in the “valley of the nightingales” which has been inhabited for at least 700 years, with several dwellings being built throughout this long period.

Built by Thomas Powell, it is a wonderful example of a Palladian style home, which was a popular style at the time. The house was constructed using locally quarried stone, and although the original architects are not known, it is evident that they copied the fashionable London styles of the time, influenced by well known designers like Sir John Vanbrugh who designed Blenheim Palace.

However, before Thomas Powell could see his vision completed, he passed away and the project was passed on to his brother, the Reverend William Powell. William lived at the finished Nanteos Mansion with his wife Elizabeth Owen. Elizabeth was showered with gifts by her husband, and it is said that when she died in the late 1700′s she came back from beyond the grave the night she died in order to hide her valuable possesions. They have since never been found, and it is reported that she is one of a number of ghosts who call Nanteos their home, as she roams the corridors looking for her gifts.

The original mansion building was actually built on the site of another house which was built there many years previous. This previous house sat on top of cellars which dated back to the 10th century, and these were incorporated into the new mansion house. During the 1990s the local Police force used the mansion for training purposes and the police dogs were sent down into the cellars, only to be found cowering in one corner as if sheltering from something. It is thought that the cellar is the final resting place of a number of monks who fled to the site of Nanteos Mansion in the 1500s as Henry VIII led his crusade against the Catholic Church, and they are reported to wander the dark cellars. Although never substantiated, it is also said that there is a tunnel running from the cellars all the way down to the lake in the grounds of the estate.

One of the legends surrounding the site of Nantoes is that it was the final resting place of the Holy Grail, now known as the Nanteos Cup. The arrival of the Grail in Wales is an interesting story, which sees Joseph of Arimethea fleeing persecution in Jerusalem by heading to England with the Holy Grail, out of which Jesus had drank at the last supper. Joseph found salvation at Glastonbury Abbey, and as a token of his appreciation gifted the grail to the Christian Monks who were to look after it with their life. Centuries later when King Henry VIII waged war on the Catholic Monks, they fled the Abbey with the Grail to the now ruined Strata Florida Abbey in Ceredigion. After Henry VIII laid waste to Strata Florida the monks headed to Nanteos Mansion where the cup was hidden for many years. However, the Nanteos Cup when examined was found to be a 500 year old kitchen cup made from Rowan wood, which is native to Wales. However, many still believe the legend, and it adds an air of mystery to the place.

The Grade II listed stable yard was built in the 1830′s. This impressive stone courtyard is accessed from a wonderful neo classical archway, and contains a total of eight stables and two large coach houses which all look out onto a cobbled courtyard. A number of people have reported hearing horse drawn carriages rumbling along the road from the mansion house to the stables and coach houses. Further developments in the mid 1800s saw an eastern wing was added to the mansion house which includes an amazing glass ceilinged room, which was at some point used for billiards.

The grounds of the Nanteos Estate extended right across the valley as seen from the house, and it is thought that they were designed by a number of people including John Davenport who formed the lake for Warren Hastings at Daylesford House in the Cotswolds as well as George Repton, son of Bloomsbury Square architect Humphry Repton in the late 1700s and early 1800s. The lake which sits to the west of the west of the Mansion House was designed with the intention of being part of a cascade although it was seen through. However a number of parts of the cascasde still remain and can be seen on the estate. There is another lake at the far eastern end of the valley, which has sadly been neglected to the point where it has over grown.

In its heyday the estate spanned over 30,000 acres which took in many of the surrounding farms and villages too. A three acre walled garden located within the grounds was used to produce the majority of the food eaten by the people of Aberystwyth. From the walled garden it is possible to see the remains of an old stone kennel, which was used to keep the hunting dogs. Hunting was a way of life for the residents of Nanteos, and there were hunts on a regular basis.

The house eventually left the hands of the family in 1951 as the death of the mining industry saw their fortunes decline at a significant rate, and the last owner Margaret Powell died and was buried at St Padarn’s in Llanbadarn Fawr.

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4 Responses to “History Of Nanteos Mansion”

  • Jane Blank says:

    I remember being enchanted by Nanteos as a small child when it was open as a stately home. The wonderful music room, the lost jewels, bottomless lake ( yes, right, Mum!) and the ghosts, were superb.
    I’m now a writer working on a bi-lingual film, ‘Nanteos,’ and a novel with the same title.I’m setting them at the time of the Rev. William Powell and the fight with Lewis Morris over Crown rights to the silver and lead mines.
    Plenty of dark secrets, tight bodices and creaking leather.
    All prospective film makers,agents and publishers, please contact Academi or my web site!

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    Rating: +3 (from 3 votes)
  • Reelf says:

    Dear Jane,
    I can hardly wait for the novel ! Though I’m from Germany, I’m very interested in Welsh history and Wales in general.
    Any idea when the novel will be published ?

    With regards,

    P.S. Is the estate / the woodland still open to the public ?

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    Rating: +2 (from 2 votes)
  • maria robertson says:

    i lived at nanteos at the age of 15,i worked there my first job, and i loved it but there were scary moments,believe me,there is a story regarding the lake the grey lady appearing, dogs graves in the garden the headless horse man , i believe relatives going back to the powells were called Merrilies , who bred peckinese dogs,were the last to live there during 1960′s, i worked for rose and jeff bliss, who had two sons micheal and tony, boys would be in their 50′s now.regards Maria.15/04/2012

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    Rating: +5 (from 5 votes)
  • Reelf says:

    Hi Maria,
    very interesting facts ! I wonder how far Jane’s film / novel is by now. Would love to see / read it !


    VA:F [1.9.17_1161]
    Rating: +2 (from 2 votes)

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