Saturday, 15 July 2017

119 Parc-le-breos

119 Parc-le-breos
Parc le Breos near Parkmill was a medieval deer park established early in the 13th century; the boundary of the original hunting park extended for 6.7 miles.  Its name is from the Norman de Breos family, some of whom ruled Gower despotically during the 13th and 14th centuries.  Subsequently the estate passed through hereditary lords - the Earls of Worcester and then the Dukes of Beaufort.
Around 1860 a substantial farmhouse was built about 1,200 yards north-east of Giant’s Grave, on the Duke of Beaufort’s land.  In 1865 it was rented by Edward Barton, who became a churchwarden at Penmaen Church, where after his death in 1873 two stained-glass windows were placed in his memory.  By then the estate, called Park le Bruce, had been purchased by Henry Hussey Vivian, owner of the vast Hafod copper-works and later first Lord Swansea.  He embarked on enlarging and transforming the farmhouse into the country residence Parc le Breos, and built a dwelling for the farm bailiff. 
In 1869 workmen digging for road stone uncovered Parc Cwm long cairn, just south of Cathole cave.  This early Neolithic cromlech, also known as Giant’s Grave, is evidence of human settlement from earliest times.  John Aubrey Vivian, only child of widower Hussey Vivian’s second marriage to Flora Cholmeley, had been born in 1854 in London, and was brought up at the Vivian mansion Parkwern in Sketty, where his mother died in 1868.  Quiet and unassuming, Aubrey Vivian settled at his father’s country retreat Parc le Breos, and became its owner after Hussey Vivian died in 1894.  Aubrey Vivian was a magistrate, governor of the village school, like his father a member of Swansea Harbour Trust, and a patron of Swansea Choral Society.  A high churchman, he made several gifts to Penmaen Church, including a lectern, an altar cross and a pair of candelabra.  But only four years after Hussey Vivian’s death, while he was staying in London with his aunt Miss Dulcie Vivian, he died suddenly of peritonitis in February 1898.  He was buried at Penmaen Church, where he had served as a churchwarden.
Later that year Parc le Breos was purchased by Aubrey’s uncle, Graham Vivian of Clyne Castle, who maintained the house just for shooting parties – the estate was known for woodcock, with as many as 52 having been shot in a single day.
Descriptions from that time describe Parc le Breos having a terrace, with parterres and rose-gardens, and kitchen gardens having cucumber and melon houses, with a photographic dark room inside the house itself.  The Home Farm had a tramway for moving dung, with a water turbine for driving the machinery.  After Graham Vivian died in 1912 it passed to his nephew Admiral Algernon Heneage-Vivian, who lived there for a few years after the First World War with his first wife and their three daughters, before they moved into Clyne Castle, when once again Parc le Breos was used mainly by shooting parties.  During the Second World War, RAF personnel and Polish airmen occupied the house, until in 1952 it was sold in a poor condition to settle death duties. 
It was purchased in October 1953 by Tom and Gladys Edwards, who used the land for market gardening, and parts of the house for rearing chickens and turkeys, breeding finches, and even a pig sty!  By the early 1960s their son John and his wife Olive began a pony trekking business, with Robbie, a wedding gift, being the first horse to work there.  The house has been gradually renovated, with run-down parts rebuilt in a tasteful manner, restoring old features and uncovering even older ones during restoration.  A 1912 postcard showed the original Victorian weatherboards, so these were remade to bring the house closer to how it used to look.  
This former hunting lodge has been converted into a guest house of character now offering home-cooked food in superb surroundings.   

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