Gregynog (Welsh pronunciation: [ɡrɛˈɡənɔɡ]) is a large country mansion in the village of Tregynon, 4 miles (6 km) northwest of Newtown in the old county of Montgomeryshire, now Powys in mid Wales. There has been a settlement on the site since the twelfth century. From the fifteenth to the nineteenth centuries it was the home of the Blayney and Hanbury-Tracy families. In 1960 it was transferred to the University of Wales as a conference and study centre by Margaret Davies, granddaughter of the nineteenth century industrial magnate and philanthropist, David Davies 'Top Sawyer' of Llandinam.
The original mansion was rebuilt in the 1840s by Charles Hanbury-Tracy, 1st Baron Sudeley. Its concrete cladding, designed to replicate the black-and-white timber-framed architecture of Montgomeryshire farmhouses, is among the earliest examples of concrete use in building in the modern era. The Sudeleys were also pioneers of the use of concrete in the building of new cottages and farmhouses on the Gregynog estate, and many Cadw-listed examples can still be seen in Tregynon and the surrounding countryside. At its largest, the Gregynog estate was over 18,000 acres (73 km²) in extent, but the estate was broken up in 1913, leaving the mansion with 750 acres (3 km²) of farms, woodlands and formal gardens. The sunken garden and arboretum are of particular note.
Gregynog and the Davies Sisters
Gregynog was bought by Margaret and her elder sister Gwendoline Davies in 1920 with the intention of establishing a centre of excellence for the arts, crafts and music which would enrich the lives of the people of Wales in the aftermath of the World War One. It became famous for music, fine printing and for the sisters' art collections which they bequeathed to the nation. These can now be seen in the Davies Galleries of the National Museum of Wales, Cardiff. Theirs was one of the most important British collections of French Impressionist and Post-Impressionist painting acquired before 1920. Their advisor Hugh Blaker was the younger brother of their governess Jane Blaker. The French collection was only one aspect of their interests – it hung at Gregynog alongside Old Masters, prints by Dürer, Rembrandt and Whistler, Chinese and Islamic ceramics, contemporary hand-made furniture commissioned by the sisters, Welsh vernacular furniture as well as contemporary ceramics and crafts. Seen as a whole, the sisters' collections are a tribute to the multiplicity and Catholicism of their tastes.
The Gregynog Music Festival, Wales’s oldest surviving classical music festival, was established in 1933 by the Davies sisters, with the advice of their friend and advisor, Sir Henry Walford Davies (later Master of the King’s Music). Many famous names are associated with the Gregynog Festivals, including Gustav Holst, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Edward Elgar and Sir Adrian Boult. The Festival is still held at Gregynog every June. In more recent years, leading international artistes have performed at Gregynog, including Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears. The sisters also established the Gregynog Press, which still exists under the name of Gwasg Gregynog, and is famous for its limited edition hand-printed books with fine bindings and exquisite wood-engraved illustrations.
Gregynog is also home to the annual Young Musicians Competition which attracts participants from all over Wales and beyond.
Since Margaret Davies’s gift of Gregynog to the University of Wales in 1960, the hall has hosted a wide range of conferences, seminars and summer schools from every academic discipline, from International Politics to Welsh Literature to Fine Art, from Geography to Simultaneous Equations. The growing understanding of the ecological importance of the grounds, especially the ancient woodlands, has led to their designation in March 2013 as a National Nature Reserve. The training apiary of the Montgomeryshire Beekeepers Association is also situated in the Gregynog grounds.
The Hall continues to operate as an historic house conference centre and now wedding venue, offering tourist accommodation for visitors to the gardens and grounds. Following institutional changes within the University of Wales the future of Gregynog as a national centre for excellence in the arts, education and culture of Wales is soon to be protected by its establishment as an independent charitable trust.
- Hughes, Glyn Tegai (ed.) "Gregynog" University of Wales Press, Cardiff 1977
- White, Eirene "The Ladies of Gregynog" University of Wales Press, Cardiff 1985
- Ingamells, John "The Davies Collection of French Art" National Museum of Wales, Cardiff 1967
- Sumner, Ann "Colour and Light: 50 Impressionist Paintings in the National Museum of Wales", National Museum of Wales, Cardiff 2005
- Meyrick, Robert ‘Hugh Blaker: Doing his bit for the Moderns’, "Journal of the History of Collections", Vol. 16, No. 2, Oxford University Press, 2004, pp. 173-189
- MacIntyre, Beth "Sisters Select: Works of Art on Paper from the Davies Collection" National Museum of Wales, Cardiff 2001
- Fairclough, Oliver, Anne Sumner, Robert Meyrick, et al. "Things of Beauty" National Museum Wales, Cardiff 2007
- Parrot, Ian "The Spiritual Pilgrims" H G Walters Ltd., Pembrokeshire 1968
- Harrop, Dorothy "The History of the Gregynog Press" Private Libraries Association 1980
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