|Location||Conwy county borough, United Kingdom|
Bodysgallen Hall is a manor house in Conwy county borough, north Wales, near the village of Llanrhos. Since 2008 the house has been owned by The National Trust. It is a grade I listed building, and is currently used as a hotel. This listed historical building derives primarily from the 17th century, and has several later additions. Bodysgallen was constructed as a tower house in the Middle Ages to serve as defensive support for nearby Conwy Castle. According to tradition, the site of Bodysgallen was the 5th century AD stronghold of Cadwallon Lawhir, King of Gwynedd, who had wide ranging exploits as far as Northumberland.
Cadwallon Lawhir's 5th century AD residence ruins are extant atop a woodland knoll above the present Bodysgallen Hall, but as early as 1835 was in ruin and totally overgrown by thorns. According to the ancient record of Caernarvon, Bod Caswallon (Bodysgallen) was one of those townships called Tre Welyog, meaning it was a unit of hereditary land (gwely) held in common by members of a wider family unit in medieval Wales, which often became divided and subdivided among heirs to the fourth descent; with the passage of time some of the smaller landholders might be "bought out" and become tenants of a larger estate. This possibly might have been one of three gwelys, originally belonging to Gloddaeth.
Cadwallon Lawhir heritage
The site was first occupied, according to tradition, by Cadwallon Lawhir, (sometimes confused with another early Welsh leader Caswallon, which led in the 18th century to the false etymology Bod Caswallon "dwelling place of Caswallon" for Bodysgallen). Cadwallon Law Hir (literally "Cadwallon Long-hand", possibly a reference to the extent of his authority) succeeded to the sovereignty of North Wales in the year 442 AD and lived till 517 AD; however there is no evidence for or against him having a court at Bodysgallen.
The 1620 block, built by Robert Wynn, finds its main entrance on the northwest exposure and has a 19th-century three story gabled porch bay addition. On the ground floor the porch bay has a four-central headed doorway by first floor (second floor in USA vernacular) features of a transformed window and three mullioned windows to the attic. Behind the porch, this doorway retains its original door and latch. On the southwest exposure the bay nook windows on both ground and first floor are of 17th century mullioned construct.
Seventeenth century history
Robert and Katherine Wynn were owners of the property in the early 17th century. They developed the present day building core characterized by its severe rectilinear architecture with pink limestone mullions. The initials K.W. and R.W. appear in the 1620 date stone on the southwest gable. The largest rooms of the 17th century addition (and yet today) are the ground floor or terrace level low hall and the great hall immediately above. Both rooms feature an unusual southwest corner construction of an unusual bay which has windows on the south and west and a fireplace on the north side of the bay. Both fireplaces feature over mantles that display heraldic arms. In the great hall, these arms display the shouldered form rendered in Plas Mawr, an Elizabethan townhouse in Conwy founded by a branch of the Wynns. Thereon is revealed the motto of the Mostyns.
Mostyn and Wynn families
Richard Mostyn, The High Sheriff of Caernarfonshire owned Bodysgallen in Elizabethan times. The Motto of the Mostyns family, Auxilium Meum a Domino, is inscribed on the arms above the nook great hall fireplace, below the painted plasterwork of the 17th century heraldic coats of the Wynn's and the Vaughan's of Corsygedol. It was upon the marriage of Richard Mostyn's daughter Margaret to Hugh Wynn (born 1620) that Bodysgallen along with Berthdu passed to the Wynn family. Richard Mostyn's son, Colonel (and governor) Roger Mostyn, is thought to has added the northwest wing to Bodysgallon, while Rogers's son, Dr. Hugh Wynn, Prebendary of Solisburg, is responsible for the northeast wing which had a date stone of 1730.
When Dr. Hugh Wynn died in 1761, his daughter Margaret, (not to be confused with her great-grandmother Margaret Wynn née Mostyn) inherited Bodysgallen to add to her estates of Berthdu and Plas Mar. Subsequently this latest Margaret Wynn in 1776 married Sir Roger Mostyn, 5th Baronet (a descendant of the Elizabethan Richard Mostyn) and thus returned Bodysgallon to the Mostyn lineage after 156 years of Wynn ownership.
The first recorded history of the site is in the mid 14th century in the "Record of Caernarvon." The core element of Bodysgallen Hall is the late 13th century watchtower, intended to assist in defense of Conwy Castle. This five-storey tower is made of on site quarried pink sandstone with grit dressings and slate roof. The square tower has a five story ascending anti-clock wise (non defensive) spiral staircase with one small room emanating at each floor. Independent masonry analysis of the spiral staircase within the tower dates it to late 13th century. The staircase becomes narrower with height. The treads are 60 cm wide at the top with maximum tread depth of 31 cm. Amending the core tower are later additions of global wings, but with consistent vernacular style:.
Bodysgallen is situated on the west facing slope of Bryn Pydew hill within a broadleaf forest ecosystem between the first and second ridges south of the Great Orme and Little Orme headlands. Surrounding lands, still owned by the estate, exhibit sheep pasture and forests probably not very different from conditions one millennium earlier. Thus it was natural to develop the gardens in a terraced form consistent with the surrounding forests. Fenton noted as late as the year 1810 that Bodysgallen was "embosomed in woods of Noble growth, which are suffered to luxuriate their own way, without any fear of the axe". The original garden design dates to 1678 and is credited to Robert Wynn, son of Hugh Wynn, the original Wynn owner. (The centerpiece sundial bears the date 1678.) Robert laid the principal garden out in Dutch fashion, a sunken, high walled garden that actually became popular throughout England, Scotland and Wales in the early 17th century. Today this garden consists of a low growing topiary maze.
Below and to the east is the larger walled rose garden; other prominent garden features are the rectangular lily pond pool and a series of smaller herb and perennial gardens below the pineapple stone cottage and to the north. A croquet lawn is found to the north of the main building.
- Rev. Robert Williams, The History and Antiquities of the Town of Aberconwy and its Neighbourhood, (1835)
- Record of Caernarvon, Bibl. Litt. 19-21
- Geiriadur Prifysgol Cymru (University of Wales Dictionary), vol. II, p. 1629
- Professor Rhys (ed.), "Pennant's Tour in Wales," Vol. III (1883)
- Ward Lock Guides series, "Llandudno and North Wales," (1950)
- History and architecture of Bodysgallen Hall, North Wales, C.Michael Hogan and Amy Gregory, Lumina Technologies, (2006)
- Conwy Authority Council, Listing Details, Bodysgallen Hall, Pen Tywyn Road, Record number 3334, Civic Offices Colwyn Bay (1950)