An ancient house intertwined with the history and politics of Wales.
Tregynon, Near Newtown, Powys, Wales, SY16 3PW
Gregynog has existed for 800 years. By the 16th century it was the home of the Blayney family, local gentry who claimed descent from the early Welsh princes and whose courage and benevolence were praised by the court poets. Their coat of arms is the centrepiece of the fine oak carvings in what we now call the Blayney Room.
For hundreds of years Gregynog was one of Montgomeryshire’s leading landed estates, at the heart of the community and the local economy. The Blayney squires gave way to the Lords Sudeley, then Lord Joicey.
After several hundred years of private ownership, in 1913 a huge estate sale saw Gregynog’s farms, cottages and woodlands sold off, many to their tenants. Gregynog Hall might have been demolished had not the wealthy Davies sisters acquired it in 1920 to become the headquarters of their enterprise to bring art, music and creative skills to the people of Wales in the aftermath of the First World War.
The Davies sisters together created one of the most important private collections of art in Britain and donated a total of 260 works to the National Museum Wales in the mid 20th century, where it has become one of the nation’s greatest treasures. However, some of the pictures, a great deal of the furniture, and many, many books still remain at Gregynog.
Their interest in music too was extraordinary and they had not been at Gregynog for long before they had converted Lord Joicey’s billiard room into a music room and formed a choir, mainly from estate employees and their families. (‘Gardener wanted – tenor preferred’, went the advertisement – or so the story goes). This music became a defining motif of the Gregynog during the wars and the Welsh College of Music was largely funded by the Davies sisters.