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Hafodunos Hall
Plas Hafodunos, Llangernyw (1895) NLW3361604.jpg
Hafodunos Hall
Hafodunos is located in Wales
General information
Type Private House
Architectural style Venetian-inspired Gothic
Address Llangernyw, Wales
Coordinates 53°11′18″N 3°41′47″W / 53.1883°N 3.6964°W / 53.1883; -3.6964
Current tenants Vacant
Construction started 1861
Completed 1866
Destroyed partial damage 13 October 2004
Owner Private Owner
Technical details
Structural system Brick and Stone
Design and construction
Architect Sir George Gilbert Scott

Hafodunos Hall is a Gothic revival house located near the village of Llangernyw in Wales. Designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott, it was built between 1861 and 1866 for Henry Robertson Sandbach, replacing a house that had been built in 1674. The house, of Venetian-Gothic design, is considered Scott's second-most important country house after Kelham Hall, Nottinghamshire and arguably his most important Welsh building. Subject to a devastating fire in 2004, the ruins are being restored. The Hall is a Grade I listed building, with many of the buildings and structures in the grounds having their own listings.[1]


The Sandbach Family[edit]

Hafodunos Hall was designed in a Gothic revival style by Sir George Gilbert Scott, and built between 1861 and 1866 for Henry Robertson Sandbach, whose family had bought the estate in 1830. The new house was built to replace a much older hall which had been built in 1674. The site had been occupied since at least 1530 but the remains of both previous houses are untraceable. The Sandbach family sold the house in the early 1930s but still farm part of the estate; most recently Antoinette Sandbach has entered public life as the MP for Eddisbury in Cheshire and still lives in what was once the estate foreman's house.[2]

George Gilbert Scott[edit]

Main article: George Gilbert Scott

Scott is well known for being one of the most important of the Gothic Revival architects of his time, especially for the Gothic style in domestic architecture. Hafodunos is the only example of his country house style in Wales and the second domestic structure that was built by Scott, the first being Kelham Hall in Nottinghamshire. One of his sons, John Oldrid Scott, who was also an architect, was later employed in 1883 to design the elaborate conservatories.

After the Sandbach family[edit]

The Sandbach family sold Hafodunos during the early 1930s, and it has subsequently housed both a girls' school and an old people's home. The hall was requisitioned in the early 1940s by the Kent House school for Girls (Sale Manchester) allowing its pupils to escape the effects of World War II. The gymnasium/theatre and games pavilion were added to the grounds during the school years to extend the facilities. The school closed in 1969 and then became an accountancy college in the 1970s. It was subsequently owned by Caer Rhun Hall.[3][4] After the school shut down, Hafodunos Hall was converted into a residential home for the elderly. This saw the addition of a lift to the main corridor in the house. The residential home was shut down in 1993 for failing to meet required standards and no suitable long term use was found. The building then fell victim to dry rot which had spread rapidly through the servant’s quarters into the main house. In 1998 Conwy Council were contemplating serving an Urgents Works Notice, however the owner had died leaving the estate in debt. Hafodunos was put on the market again and was eventually bought in 2001 by a property developer from Colwyn Bay. During the late spring of 2004 he unveiled plans for and hotel and adjoining caravan park.

The Fire[edit]

On the night of 13 October 2004, Hafodunos Hall was the subject of a devastating fire which gutted the main block of the house. The conservatories and service wing were saved from the fire and remained virtually untouched. Along with forty other historic sites in Wales, the property was featured on the ITV Wales television channel, and identified as at risk from vandalism, damage and neglect.[5] Two men from North Wales were sentenced for the arson attack: Christopher Szabo, 22, from Eglwysbach, was jailed for three years, and Adam Kaluzny, 20, from Llandudno, was sent to a young offenders' institution.[6][4]


After the fire Hafodunos and gardens fell into neglect. A book, entitled Hafodunos: Triumph of the Martyr was published by Mark Baker in 2005, detailing the history of the estate. Those remaining sculptures from the house were removed in 2005[7] and the property was put up for sale in April 2008 with a guide price of £500,000 – £750,000. At that time, the surviving features included a gate lodge (listed Grade II), a carriage drive, the ruins of the hall (listed Grade I), a keeper's cottage (listed Grade II), a games pavilion, a gymnasium/theatre, approximately 20 acres (8.1 ha) of fields, formal gardens (listed Grade II), woodland and a walled garden (listed Grade II). The property was eventually sold in January 2010 for £390,000, with the new owners expressing a desire to restore the hall for use as a single dwelling.[8]

As of November 2011 Linda Lamb and Mark Baker are working on a collection of songs based on the poems of Margaret Sandbach of Hafodunos which will be released as an album in 2012.[9] This will also be accompanied by a book based on Sandbach's life.

As of August 2014, considerable work has been carried out on the Grade II listed gardens to restore them to their former glory. In the last 5 years since the change of ownership, the main mansion has been cleared of rubble, and with the help of CADW, emergency works have been done to ensure no further damage occurs to the building caused by weather or time. Plans are in place to continue the restoration of the Grade I listed building to return it to its original design.

Architectural Design[edit]

Hafodunos is a Venetian-inspired[10] Gothic style house, "arguably, (Scott's) most important work in Wales."[11] The house is of two storeys, with attics,[12] and an entrance tower.[11] The materials used to build the house are a soft red brick with a diaper, flushwork design and extensive stone dressings to windows and doors.[12] The south east elevation known as the garden front is the most impressive side of the house, with the octagonal sculpture gallery to the north east, the entrance front tower also on the north east elevation and the conservatories and service quarters to the south west. The Hall is a Grade I listed building, with many of the structures in the grounds having their own listings, mainly Grade II.[13]


The Interior of the hall was as lavish as the exterior. The most notable features are a series of plaster bas-reliefs designed by John Gibson, an international sculptor from Conwy who trained in Rome, and Bertel Thorvaldsen.[14] Gibson was a close friend of the Sandbach family. There are also five more Gibson marble reliefs from the house, and a Nymph statue by R J Wyatt, which are now at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool.[7]


  1. ^ Hayward, Will. "These houses helped shape Wales' history but are now crumbling". Wales Online. 
  2. ^ Batley, Sarah (19 July 2013). "At home with Antoinette Sandbach – Assembly Member for North Wales". Cheshire Life. 
  3. ^ BBC – North West Wales History – Architecture
  4. ^ a b BBC NEWS | UK | Wales | North West Wales | Custody for Gothic hall arson
  5. ^ Wales This Week – Hafodunos Hall
  6. ^ Grandeur and Decline of a Historic Landmark
  7. ^ a b Thieves Target Historic Works In Ruined Hafodunos Hall
  8. ^ Devine. D, (2010) "Historic Hafodunos Hall to rise from the ashes" http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/2010/02/11/historic-hafodunos-hall-to-rise-from-the-ashes-91466-25809985/
  9. ^ 00:00, 14 NOV 2011Updated18:30, 21 MAR 2013. "Techno star to sing the work of 19th century Welsh poet". Wales Online. Retrieved 2016-12-11. 
  10. ^ Hubbard, p. 217-8.
  11. ^ a b Good Stuff (1970-02-04). "Hafodunos Hall - Llangernyw - Conwy - Wales". British Listed Buildings. Retrieved 2016-12-11. 
  12. ^ a b "Hafodunos Hall". Coflein. Retrieved 2016-12-11. 
  13. ^ Good Stuff (1970-02-04). "Hafodunos Hall - Llangernyw - Conwy - Wales". British Listed Buildings. Retrieved 2016-12-11. 
  14. ^ Good Stuff (1970-02-04). "Hafodunos Hall - Llangernyw - Conwy - Wales". British Listed Buildings. Retrieved 2016-12-11. 


External links[edit]