A Garden Lost in Time.
The story of the house and its gardens spans many centuries. Aberglasney's origins are shrouded in obscurity and recent research has by no means untangled all the mysteries and myths that have grown up around the place.
Five hundred years ago, just before Henry Tudor become Henry VII, there were 'nine' green gardens' somewhere around here, according to the bard Lewis Glyn Cothi, as well as orchards, vines and oaks. The poet was singing the praises of an important dwelling in the parish of Llangathen, and it is highly likely to have stood roughly where Aberglasney does now. Perhaps the imprint of some of those nine medieval gardens coincised with some of the garden enclosures we find around the house today.
The property was not known as Aberglasney until the mid 1600's when the house built by Bishop Rudd and his sone Sir Rice was rated among the largest in Carmarthenshire. It is the survival of the garden structures that they built which makes Aberglasney remarkable today. Over almost four centuries the fortunes of this place and the people who lived here have followed a switchback course, soaring to splended heights at one moment and plunging into depths of debt and decay at another. The nadir came around 1995 when the house was derelict and its unique gardens were drowning in a sea of weeds.
The approach to the house has seen the passing of many generations. No one knows what the house looked like in its early days, but it was graced with a smart new Queen Anne facade around 1710-15 and aggrandized with a portico around 1840. Its windows gazed out over archery butts and croquet lawns in Victoria's reign, Nissen huts in World War II, a building site in 1990s. The lawn was raised to its present level during the work which was carried out between 1710 and 1715.
The late Victorians took this to be a picutresque folly, built to some eighteenth centry whim. Past owners may have regarded it as a folly and it was certainly 'antiqued' when a decorative stone moulding was added around its outward arch, but its origins are a great deal older. On either side of the stonework bears the scars of missing gables, showing that single-story wings once extended in each direction and probably joined up with other buildings to make an enclosed courtyard. Similar structures such as these are known elsewhere and also date from 1600. Newly revealed diaper-patterned cobbling leads from the archway toward the Cloister Garden.