Llandough Castle 4302

Llandough-juxta-Cowbridge, Wales

Brief Description

The oldest parts of the house date from the 15th century. There were periods of development of the gardens, maily between 1803 and 1818 under the occupancy of the Prices, and in the late-19th century, when William Harkness was head gardener. The site continued in good repair until after World War 2, at which time the land was divided and much of the remaining garden was left to return to the wild.

Detailed Description

The gardens can be described now as lost. A few woodland walks, water features in the woods, mature trees and stone walls survive.
History

Detailed History

The oldest parts of the house date to the 15th century. It was mainly occupied by tenants in the 18th and 19th centuries. The first owner-occupier for 200 years was Sir Sidney H. Byass, who bought the property in 1914.

John and Jane Price became the castle's tenants in 1803, and spent a great deal on improving the site. In 1804, the grounds were noted as including a court in front of the house (81 feet x 75 feet), a kitchen garden (150 feet x 129 feet), a drying ground (80 feet x 80 feet), formerly a bowling green, a pleasure garden (120 feet x 96 feet) and a second kitchen garden stated to be ‘wild and out of repair'. It is assumed that these areas were walled, and John Price is known to have planted peach trees (short-lived) within the walled enclosures. Price also planted several trees around the grounds, including oak, Scots pine, larch, sweet chestnut and beech.

John and Jane Price both died in 1818, and the new tenants were the Morgan family. There is little information regarding changes to the gardens during this time, but between 1835 and 1837 the property was sub-let to the Bishop of Llandaff. The Bishop removed several large trees and hedges, and re-instated lawns. Flowers were also planted in front of the house. This paved the way for other changes in the gardens.

William Harkness, who died in 1900, was responsible for much of the transformation of the gardens. Hilary M. Thomas (see references) notes: ‘In the words of one correspondent he "established the lovely gardens of flowers, fruits, vegetables, hot houses, pineries, vineries etc." and laid out woodland walks and miles of "waterfalls in babbling brooks" in Castle Woods'. Harkness was a gardener on the site in the 1860s, and head gardener from 1869 until shortly before his death.

The Ebsworth family occupied the castle in 1911. A contemporary account described a rose garden, wild garden and sundial garden around the house. Nectarines, peaches and vines were grown in glasshouses against the south-facing walls.

The house and gardens were at their peak in 1914 when bought by Sir Sidney Byass. Sir Sidney died in 1929, and his wife left the property, but the grounds were well-maintained by the successors to William Harkness, Richard German and Jack Evans. During the 1930s, the house was used as an instruction centre for boys with poor health as a result of working in the mines. During this period, the gardens continued to be well-maintained by Jack Evans, and a wide variety of fruit, vegetables and flowers were produced.

The castle and gardens were radically changed after World War 2. The central part of the house was demolished and the servants' quarters at the east were converted into flats. Some parts of the garden were left to go wild, including the kitchen garden, and other parts were sold off for house building or alongside conversion of outbuildings.

References

References