Sunday, May 12, 2013

Wild Wales: the Bulkeley family and Baron Hill

Driving north from Beaumaris on the Isle of Anglesey, one can’t help noticing an obelisk on a prominent hill. We stopped briefly to photograph it and continued on our journey to Bodorgan. Upon returning home to Canada, some days later I began to search for information about the obelisk. I found out that the 90 foot tall Bulkeley Monument on Cremlyn Hill was unveiled on 1st June 1882. It is described in the Cadw (Historic Environment Service of the Welsh Assembly) report as: 'Hard ashlar, probably Penmon stone, on panelled plinth with a moulded base and cornice, standing on a square stone platform.' 1   It was built to commemorate Sir Richard Bulkeley Williams Bulkeley, 10th Bart who was born in 1801 and died 28 August 1875, after having “dominated local government and politics in Anglesey for half a century.” 2

Photo by Annette Lloyd Thomas 2013

Upon further investigation I found that the nearby Bulkeley estate, Baron Hill , has been derelict since the 1940s. We had noticed one of the gates and stopped to take photos but did not realize the connection to the obelisk and how close we were to exploring the large estate left untouched for over 60 years and now overgrown by woods.

Photo by Annette Lloyd Thomas 2013

Baron Hill was built in 1618 and underwent a massive rebuild in the Neo-Palladian style in 1776 by  architect Samuel Wyatt. Death duties during the First World War eroded the Bulkeley fortune to the extent that they could no longer maintain the estate. During the Second World War the house was occupied by the Royal Engineers. Legend has it that Polish prisoners set fire to the place in the hopes of being moved to better accommodation. Much to their chagrin, they were subsequently housed in tents on the grounds of the ruined mansion.

In recent years, the construction firm Watkin Jones has employed architects Willacyhorsewood to design the multi-million pound transformation of the Baron Hill Estate into 43 luxury apartments.3 An application for planning permission was reviewed by the Isle of Angelesey County Council on
1 December 2010 (12.3 – 12C368A – Baron Hill, Beaumaris). I am presently unable to discern the status of the application.

These amazing photos of the Baron Hill Estate, below, are reproduced here with the kind permission of North Wales photographer David Roberts.

Rear Facade and Portico 
Photo by David Roberts

Front Facade
Photo by David Roberts

The Temple
Photo by David Roberts

To see more, go to David Roberts Flickr set here

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