Stately Homes and Castles - Wales
A small C17th manor house
is a delightful small C17th stone manor house set high on
the wooded hillside above Porth Neigl beach, hidden from the
road by a stone wall and tall box hedge.
The house was bought by the three Keating sisters in 1938 who lovingly restored it from a ruinous condition and planted the garden. They donated the house to the National Trust and continued to live in it until their death. They are buried in the churchyard at Llanfaelrhys.
The car park is just down the road from the house. The only sound was the crows in the trees above. We walked up the secret driveway through fuchsia, azaleas, camellias and ferns for our first glimpse of the house, a simple stone building with slate roof and slate veranda along the front.
There is a small lawn in front of the house with flower borders. The gardens drop down the hillside in a series of terraces with paths and neatly trimmed box hedges. The air was scented with old fashioned roses. The gardens were a mass of colour with irises, sisyrinchium, foxgloves, aquilegia, pink corydalis, geraniums, helebores, yellow Welsh poppies, allium… The garage was covered with the lilac blooms of Wisteria.
It is an interesting house inside as is a mix of late Georgian meets early C20th, avoiding the 'over the top' clutter of the Victorian age. It is left untouched since the last Keating sister died in 1981. My only regret is that photography is not allowed inside the house.
Inside the door is a lovely late Georgian style living room with wooden posts supporting the ceiling. Furnished with dark wood furniture it has a gate leg table, chairs, chests, dresser with blue and white china, display of pewter, grandfather clock, spinning wheel, log fire place.
Behind it is the kitchen with beamed ceiling and stone floor with a peg rug. Facing north this must have been a cold and damp room once the open fire had been replaced by a small gas hob and oven. There was a stone sink but no water supply to the kitchen. In the centre is a large table set for a meal with blue and white china. Under the window is a scrubbed work table with rolling pin, mixing bowls, lemon squeezer. Next to it is a folding tea table with an old electric kettle, 1920s toaster and biscuit tins. On either side of the fire place are two wooden chairs. One has a small wood footstool to keep the feet off the cold stone floor.
On the other side of the doorway is a room with huge fireplace with an iron cauldron and the remains of spits. There is an old pantry built into the thickness of the wall. This was later used as a sitting room and now has a drop top desk, tables, chairs, gramophone, small sewing table with a lift off top containing reels of thread.
Stone and wooden steps with a grandfather clock lead to the first floor. The room at the back was used as a small office and is lined with books and has a desk with inkstand and typewriter.
There is another sitting room at the front of the house with easy chairs, bookcase, drop leaf desk, radio and wooden corner cupboard. There is a chest of drawers inlaid with two lions holding round shields. In the corner of the wall above the pantry is a stone spiral staircase to the floor above.
Next to it is a small single bedroom with a patchwork quilt on the bed and a hand knitted bed jacket. There is a fur coat hanging up and handbag casually discarded on an easy chair. The dressing table set is inlaid with mother of pearl and there are hat pins stuck in a cushion, glove stretchers, shoe horn and oil lamp. Over the bed is a rather risqué print of St George rescuing a damsel.
Stairs with water colours painted by the Keating sisters lead up to the second floor. This has another single bed with a patchwork quilt cover. Furnished with a large cupboard doubling up as wardrobe and shelf space as well as a chest of drawers, small settee and two easy chairs.
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