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Llanerchaeron is a rare survivor of a Welsh gentry estate. It was in 1634 that Llewelyn Parry bought 500 acres of land that included a house and garden. This was the beginning of the ownership over three centuries by 10 generations of the same family. During this time changes were made but kept to the spirit of the land and house.
In 1793 William Lewis, a desendant, had architect John Nash redesign and expand the house. Lewis was a justice of the peace and high sheriff for Cardiganshire. From 1855 to 1917 (died at age 104) the home was occupied by Mary Ashby Lewis, wife of William’s son John. During this time a billiard room was built and a bay window was added to the morning room of the house. A game larder was constructed onto the side of the servants’ wing. John installed a water wheel to run the farm machinery. When Mary died another branch of the family inherited.
This was Thomas Powell Lewes, along with his wife, who lived at Llanerchaeron until 1940. The estate had huge debts at this time, brought on by the rebuilding in the 18th century and by a cousin who used the estate as security against loans. Parts of the estate were sold off to discharge the debts. The house was then modernised, adding electricty and bathrooms. The roof was also remodelled with a skylight added over the main staircase. The stairway to the servants’ bedrooms was removed. (The National Trust removed the bay window and made other changes so the house would reflect Nash’s original design.) Modern farming methods were introduced at this same time.
The estate was inherited by Thomas Powell’s son John Ponsonby, who left it to the National Trust on his death. In the house is the Pamela Ward collection of artefacts and antiques bequeathed by her to the National Trust. She had no connection with the estate.
In the service courtyard are a dairy, laundry, brewery, cheese room, and meat preparation rooms.
In the grounds are a walled kitchen, herb, and flower garden. There are 52 varieties of apples. Produce is available for purchase in the shop. Also in the grounds are a restored lake and a waterwheel. Walks in the grounds are marked out.
The home farm is a working organic one with Welsh black cattle, llanwenog sheep and rare Welsh pigs. There are a number of farm buildings including a threshing barn, cowshed and heavy horse stable, carpenter workshop, cart house and granary and carriage house courtyard. In one building there is a collection of historic agricultural, domestic, mechanical and craft items.
Ciliau Aeron, Llanerchaeron
2.5 miles southeast of Aberaeron
One mile off the A482, Ceredigion
Tel. 0 1545 570 200
Open: weekends in Jan, Feb, March, also last week Feb and March, April-Dec, daily; house 11.30am-5.30pm; farmland, shop, cafe, and garden 10.30am-5.30pm
National Trust property; special events; parking; produce for sale; small number of NT items for sale; café; picnic areas
Text and photos © by Barbara Ballard