the Welsh House : a house lost in time

15-09-26_Canon EOS 7D_16-29-41-3It was dark when we arrived at The Welsh House. Not the patchy, streetlight-smattered dark of the town, but the silent pitch black of the countryside. To quote Dylan Thomas (who lived and wrote but a few miles away), it was “starless and bible-black.” Tumbling out of the car into the evening, we were guided by the bright glow of a window against the sky. When we opened the door of Bryn Eglur, we stepped not in, but back. Back, to a simpler, quieter time. Back to lime-washed walls and elegant wooden furniture, to Welsh blankets and Welshcakes, to a small parlour warmed by a fire. Back, to a house lost in time.

 

15-09-26_Canon EOS 7D_16-16-59-315-09-26_Canon EOS 7D_19-15-46-3 15-09-26_Canon EOS 7D_17-22-50-3the welsh house parlour15-09-27_Canon EOS 7D_16-26-40-3 15-09-26_Canon EOS 7D_19-29-14-3 15-09-26_Canon EOS 7D_20-04-26-3 15-09-26_Canon EOS 7D_19-27-11-3 15-09-27_Canon EOS 7D_19-23-38-3 15-09-26_Canon EOS 7D_17-04-28-3 15-09-26_Canon EOS 7D_19-39-09-3 15-09-26_Canon EOS 7D_16-05-32-315-09-26_Canon EOS 7D_16-03-42-3 15-09-26_Canon EOS 7D_20-22-36-315-09-26_Canon EOS 7D_21-12-06-3Bryn Eglur (meaning ‘Clear Hill’) was built in 1755 as a simple tyddyn (a smallholder’s cottage). It saw centuries of life, love and loss until 1965, when it was abandoned, standing empty for decades. In 2005 Dorian Bowen bought and rescued the cottage, carefully preserving and sensitively restoring it, a true labour of love. Inside Bryn Eglur, the past and the present are easy companions. The cottage has been painstakingly restored, and yet with the barn converted to a light and spacious kitchen, and the dairy to an elegant contemporary bathroom, tradition and comfort co-exist in perfect harmony. The layers of paint on the cottage’s woodwork are the strata of its history. Each scratch or mark contains a secret and a tale, their shades and textures left untouched.

Awakening there on our first morning – the children in the traditional wooden box bed, us under a tumble of soft white linen – the dawn light glowed golden outside the window panes. The boys and I clattered down the stairs, pulling on wellies over pyjamas and tiptoeing out into the dewy garden to watch the sun come up over the adjacent field. The boys fell in love with what they called the “wild and magical” garden: running free across the lawn, splashing in the stream, puzzling the tangle of the maze, climbing the trees, collecting treasures (pottery, pebbles, a bird’s skull…).

Meanwhile, I fell head-over-heels for the house, not least for its utterly perfect light, which streamed through each window. There is something so soul-affirming about spending time in a space where everything has been carefully and impeccably selected. There were freshly-picked flowers from the cutting garden on the table. A cherry-red Rayburn and blankets to match. Wooden stick-backed chairs made by Dorian’s own hand. As I sat at the kitchen table, coffee in hand, listening to the children’s voices in that wild and magical garden, and watching the sunlight dance on the table, I felt more peaceful than I have for far too long.

On the wall in the bathroom is a framed copy of Desiderata. Its words serve as a credo for this wonderful house, and all who stay here: “Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.” In this busy, modern, ever-connected world, it’s often difficult to go placidly. At the Welsh House, however, that peace may be found.

{Our stay at The Welsh House was gifted to us but all thoughts and opinions are my own.}

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