The First Houses of Nannau

The First Houses of Nannau

“Nanney” is derived for the old Welsh name for “Streams” or “Brooks”.

The “Lords of Nannau” pre-date the usage of the surname “Nanney”. Surnames were not adopted in Wales until Tudor times when an English High Court Judge is said to have insisted on their use, as he was confused by the long series of “aps”. So, Gruffydd ap Hywel ap Dafydd ap Meurig ap Hywel Sele, just assumed the name of his house and called himself “Gruffydd Nannau.” Many Welsh families adopted nicknames, or abbreviations, “ap Hugh” to “Pugh”, “ap Rhys” to “Prys” etc.

Both Nanney and Nannau are pronounced “Nan-Eye”. The same applies to nearby town of Dolgellau, which used to be written in the English style of Dolgelly and then Dolgelley, before changing to the Welsh spelling.

The land on which the houses of Nannau were built, is nearly 750 feet above sea level, making them the highest country houses in the UK.

The First Known House (1100s – 1400)

The first known house was built around 1100 by Cadwgan ap Bleddyn, Prince of Powys. This house was probably destroyed by Owain Glyndŵr around 1400 when it was owned by Howel Sele. This house was probably located in The Deer Park:

In 1778, Thomas Pennant says that in his time the ruins of the old house could be seen in Nannau Park, “a mere compost of cinders and ashes”.

And The Cornhill Magazine entry below,

“As to Howell Sele, when the blackened ruins of his burnt castle were cleared away some years ago to build a lodge for Nannau deer park…”

This must refer to Hywel Sele Lodge, although that was not built for four-hundred years after that house was destroyed.

The “In-Between” House? (1400-1581)

I assume there was another house built between the destruction of the house (built by Cadwgan ap Bleddyn) and Old Nannau (which was built in 1581).