Visiting Abbey Cwm-Hir


In 1834 having bought the 3000 acre Abbey-Cwh-Hir Estate, Thomas Wilson, a lawyer from London, set about building a Hall and creating gardens and grounds. He chose the most beautiful position on the estate to build the house, a shelf on a steep south facing slope overlooking the ruins of the 12 century "Abbey of The Long Valley". He created sweeping terraces and lawns, garden walls containing some of the ornamental stones from the Abbey, fine specimen trees, brought from a nursery in Regents Park in London, to found an area of mixed woodland above the Abbey. A large walled garden was built to supply fruit and vegetables for those working for the estate and a lake with a water flow to drive the village sawmill.Carriageways were pushed through the oak woodlands of Great and Little Park, and the Abbey ruins were improved for the benefit of visitors from Llandrindod Wells and other towns. Such improvement included re-excavating the Abbey pool lying by the River Clwydog used by the cistercians to provide their staple diet of fish. Abbey-Cwm-Hir had probably not known such endeavour in the centuries since the Abbey had been dissolved, the monks with their learned ways had gone, and their former lands had fallen into disrepair.But it all came at a terrible price for Thomas Wilson who fell short of funds through his Radnorshire improvements and a failed business venture in London. He went to Australia, where within a few years he rose again to become the second Lord Mayor of Adelaide!

Current owners, Victoria and Paul Humpherston have lovingly restored and redecorated each of the 52 rooms over the last nine years, into individual design statements with an overall Victorian theme. The Hall is almost totally original in its features, including 23 fireplaces, of which 14 are marble. There are Rococco ceilings in each of the formal rooms, together with splendid woodwork and windows, and a truly magnificent snooker room with vaulted and stained glass ceilings and with wholly original equipment. There are stone and slate surfaces and sinks in what were originally the domestic offices of the house, and a Minton Hollis tiled hallway and sweeping staircase beneath an ornamentally plastered ceiling and stained glass lantern roof. A number of the rooms house other private collections, including an art collection of some 10 major landscapes celebrating Abbey-Cwm-Hir, the hall, the village, the Cistercian Abbey and the valley at different times in history. The hall sits in 11 acres of landscaped grounds with a restored walled garden, lawns and terraces, four courtyards, a lake and waterfall and some of Powys’ most notable woodland. The hall has already been featured on television and in the movies this year. It headed up BBC2 Wales’ third series of Discovering Welsh Houses, and it hosted the filming of a world-wide distribution Bollywood movie.