The Cambrian News – 8th August, 2002
Text Courtesy of David Brown
New hope for jewel of a house by Elen Meredith
One of Meirionnydd’s most historic houses is to be restored to its former glory after years of neglect and planning disputes, say developers. Nannau Hall at Llanfachreth, described as the ‘jewel in the Meirionnydd crown’, fell into disrepair after numerous failed attempts to develop it as a recreational venue. But, in March of this year, Jason Cawood, a keen property restorer from Rugby, applied to Snowdonia National Park Authority for planning permission to reconvert the listed building into a private house and the application was granted last week.
Built in the late 18th century by the Vaughan family, at one time one of most powerful families in the county, the hall and the estate were sold off in the 1970s. Since then the property has been a hotel, a country club with squash courts, a time-share complex and, most recently, a caravan site with permission to pitch up to 100 caravans and four log cabins. After being left empty for many years the inside has become ravaged by dry rot and unauthorised demolitions had been carried out internally by a previous owner.
Geraint Lewis from Llanelltyd, who is Mr Cawood’s agent, said: “It’s just a shell at the moment, nothing but bare stone walls. Listed items of great value have been taken from the house over the years but the new owner hopes to return it to its original splendour. We’re in touch with the Georgian Society and, thanks to the Ancient Monument Commission at Aberystwyth, we have pictures and documents showing the house as it was. In particular, the coving, wall-panelling, doors and fire-places will be reproduced as closely as possible to the original Georgian style.”
“A lot of damage has been done to the place: It’s great to see someone restoring the place to a condition that it’s worthy of for the purpose making it a family home again.” However, the biggest challenge facing the builders will be protect the bats that live in the roof and cellar of the house. “As bats are a protected species, we’re not allowed disturb them so we can’t start work in these areas until after September when they will hibernate until April,” said Mr Lewis.
After a period of consultation, the work should start this year and will be completion within two years, according to Mr Lewis. Dolgellau councillor Dyfrig Siencyn, who is also a member of the National Park Authority approves of the move: “I welcome any move to safeguard the use of this historic building for the future.”