Hafodunos Hall, Llangernyw, North Wales

Situated close by the village of Llangernyw, Hafodunos Hall was designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott between 1861 and 1866 for Henry Robertson Sandbach, who’s 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 Thorwaldsen, 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 R J 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 were 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 developer. During the late spring of 2004 he unveiled plans for hotel and Caravan Park, but on the night of 13th October the house was the subject of a devastating fire which gutted the main block. However, the conservatories and service wing remained virtually untouched. It’s future is now uncertain.

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