22 November 2010

More questions than answers

Last weekend I decided I would have a day of complete rest and relaxation. What did you do, I hear some of you ask, did you go to a spa for some pampering or spend the day having a bit of retail therapy? No, I decided to try and uncover a little bit more of Plas y Nant's history.

During the past year I've received lots of welcome information about its time as a Christian Endeavour Holiday Home but this is only a small part of its history as the original Plas y Nant was built in 1671 by John Rowlands who was a London banker and in 1692 was the High Sheriff of Caernarfon. Readers of my previous posts will know that there is a plaque in the garden relating to this which had been discovered when the present Plas y Nant was altered and extended by Rev John Parry who, according to the Deeds, bought the place from Sir Richard Williams-Bulkeley of Baron Hill on 6th November 1893. Now from previous research I know that Plas y Nant had become part of the Baron Hill estate through the marriage of John Rowlands' grand-daughter Emma to one of the Baron Hill Mob, as David likes to call them, and I'm really curious as to who lived in it from then until the time Rev John Parry got his hands on it.

So, I decided to have a look on the internet at the census as I thought that this would start to answer a few of my questions - how mistaken was I. In 1841 the Roberts family were listed as living there - father, mother and three children with the father's occupation being a farmer. In 1851 only the three children were listed with the eldest son as the head of the family so I assume that either the parents were out enjoying the bright lights of Betws Garmon the night the census man called or they had died sometime during the previous ten years. Then Plas y Nant does not appear on any census until 1901 when the Rev John Parry is listed as living there with his wife and three servants. What happened between 1851 and 1893 when Rev Parry bought the place? Other properties in Betws Garmon that were empty at the time of the census were recorded as such but Plas y Nant is not listed at all - did the chap doing the rounds not see the entrance to the drive in the dark, was he too scared to go up there on his own or, like now, had a gate been put across the drive in the vain attempt to deter unwelcome visitors?

As I had reached a stumbling block with my research I thought I'd have a break and look at the census information for Llansadwrn where my maternal Grandmother, Nanan, had been born and brought up. I found her family listed in her cottage in 1901 and, surprisingly, found another family listed there as well. Now her cottage was very tiny and both families listed were many in number and both my Mum and myself were amazed that they could all fit in. Mum suggested that maybe this other family were visiting at the time of the census, which could have been possible, but on checking the previous census for 1891 I found that they were listed on that one as well.  Neither of us can recall her mentioning this other family living there and unfortunately she is no longer around to ask. I think I will have to put my research on hold until I have a bit more free time to visit the County archives and delve through various records. Either that or hold a seance and see who pops up with any answers, mind you if my paternal Grandmother popped up she'd have something to say about the state of the skirting boards in my office!


  1. Michelle

    I remember being told that the original house had been destroyed in a fire, which might explain why Plas is not on the census forms.

    Peter the Plasite

  2. Thanks for the info Peter. I now have even more questions in my head! Was anyone hurt in the fire? What condition was Plas y Nant in when Rev Parry bought it? Was it a burnt-out wreck? Was he able to live in it before he did the work? Definitely have to have a trip to the archives!

  3. Fire Service may have a record.......just a thought.