Situated close by the village of Llangernyw, Wales, Hafodunos Hall was designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott between 1861 and 1866 for Henry Robertson Sandbach, whose family had bought the estate in 1830. The new house replaced one which had been built in 1674, although the site had been occupied since at least 1530. Scott was amongst the most important of the Gothic revival architects and proponent of the Gothic style in domestic architecture. Hafodunos is second only to Kelham Hall, Nottinghamshire in Sir George Gilbert Scott’s domestic output, and the only example of his country house style in Wales. John Oldrid Scott was later employed in 1883 to design the elaborate conservatories.

It is a Venetian-inspired Gothic style house, predominantly of two storeys with an attic, built in soft red brick with diaper work and extensive stone dressings to windows and doors. The garden front is the most impressive side of the house, with the octagonal rotunda to the right, the entrance front tower at the back and the conservatories and service quarters to the left. Inside the house the most notable features are a series of plaster bas-reliefs designed by John Gibson and Bertel Thorvaldsen, the international sculptor who was also close friends with the Sandbach family. Five other Gibson marble reliefs from the house, and a free standing Nymph by Richard Wyatt, are now at the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool.

Since leaving the hands of the Sandbach family during the early 1930’s, Hafodunos has had a succession of owners and different uses from being a private girl’s school to an old people’s home. It finally shut down in 1993 and no suitable long term use was found. Dry rot had become the major problem, spreading rapidly through the servant’s quarters into the main house. By 1998 Conwy Council was contemplating serving an Urgents Works Notice but unfortunately the owner died leaving the estate in debt. Hafodunos was put on the market again and was eventually bought in 2001 by a Colwyn Bay development company called SFJ Limited. During the late spring of 2004, SFJ's Managing Director, John Rochelle, unveiled plans for the main Hall to be restored and converted into a country house hotel and for a development of ninety lodges to be built in the grounds of the Estate. This plan attracted fierce opposition from local residents.

On the night of 13th October 2004, the house was the subject of a devastating fire which gutted the main block. However, the conservatories and service wing remained virtually untouched. A brief structural survey revealed that the remaining elements of the main building were essentially sound but required some stabilisation and recommended a temporary roof be erected.

Following further years of neglect and vandalism, the Hafodunos Estate ended up in the hands of Receivers, who put it up for sale in April 2008. The Estate Agents, Walker Singleton of Halifax, invited offers from potential purchasers who had 'substantial capital' with which to restore the main building. The Guide Price was thought to be in the region of £500,000 and the estimated cost of complete renovation was thought to be in the £8m region.

As of 2008, the Estate includes the Gate Lodge (Listed Grade II), Carriage Drive, Hall (Listed Grade I), Keepers' Cottage (Listed Grade II), Games Pavilion, Gymnasium/Theatre, approx 20 acres of fields, formal gardens (Listed Grade II), woodland and a Walled Garden (Listed Grade II).

As of June 2008, the sale process is still ongoing.

Further Information

Mark Baker has released a book on the history of Hafodunos. Entitled "Hafodunos Hall - Triumph of the Martyr".

External links

* [http://www.hafodunos-hall.co.uk Hafodunos Website]

* [http://www.countryhousebiographies.co.uk/ Country House Biographies]

* [http://www.flickr.com/photos/davellandudno/sets/72157604861257020/ Extensive photo tour of the Hafodunos Estate]

* [http://www.bbc.co.uk/wales/northwest/sites/history/pages/hafodunos.shtml BBC Website page on Hafodunos]

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