Historic Carmarthenshire Homes and their Families
1ABERLASH, Llandybie
3BLAENAU, Llandybie
4CARREG AMAN, Llandybie
5CILYRYCHEN, Llandybie
6CWM COCH, Llandybie
7DERWYDD, Llandybie
8DYFFRYN, Llandybie
9DYNEVOR, Llandyfeisant
10GLYN HIR, Llandybie
11GOLDEN GROVE, GELLI AUR, Llanfihangel Aberbythych
12MYDDYNFYCH, Llandybie
13PARC Y RHUN, Llandybie
14PIODAU, Llandybie


'Historic Carmarthenshire Homes and their Families', written by Francis Jones, was published jointly in 1987 by Carmarthenshire Antiquarian Society and the Cultural Services Department of Dyfed County Council. The book lists all the grand houses, past and present, of the county and includes several in the parishes of Llandybie and Betws. Until 1911 Ammanford had belonged, for ecclesiastical purposes at least, to the parish of Llandybie, whose southern boundary extended all the way to the river Amman. By 1911 however Ammanford, which had once been a tiny hamlet at the southern edge of the parish, had seen its population grow explosively as people poured into the valley in search of work in the rapidly developing tinplate and mining industries.

The population of Cross Inn, which was renamed Ammanford in 1880, and became the administrative district of Ammanford Urban District Council in 1903, was tiny. The Reverend Rhys Powell was ordained in 1811 as the minister of Cross Inn Chapel (renamed Christian Temple in 1865) and he describes the population of Cross Inn as being around 300 during his term. Yet in just 100 years this would grow to 6,000 people with the most spectacular growth being from 3,000 in 1901 to 6,000 in 1911.

A major reorganisation of the ecclesiastical parish was therefore undertaken and in 1911 Ammanford was transferred from Llandybie to the much smaller parish of Betws, creating the new parish of Betws cum Ammanford (Betws with Ammanford).

'Historic Carmarthenshire Homes and their Families' lists 12 of these houses in the parish of Llandybie but only one in Betws, itself an indicator of the relative wealth of the two parishes. Time has not been kind to these houses, some of which have been demolished completely with not a trace left to even hint at what former glories were once there.

Some have made it through to the present as farmhouses or private residences, though much reduced in grandeur, and with no remnants of their owners' former wealth and political power. For these houses were the outward appearances of a powerful social class known variously as the gentry or squirearchy. These families, who had also once owned all the land in their immediate vicinity, derived their considerable wealth from rent income paid by their tenant farmers. But another source of income was becoming increasingly important in the south-east corner of Carmarthenshire – coal. Although coal wouldn't be mined in industrial quantities until the 19th century, the deposits found on these landowners' estates were still being exploited in sufficient quantities for domestic use to enable the gentry families of the Amman and Gwendraeth valleys to increase their wealth even further.

The great period of house building in southern Carmarthenshire occurred in the late-seventeenth century, when Britain had finally settled down to stability after the upheavals and uncertainties of the Civil War period (1642-1649) and the subsequent Cromwellian interregnum from 1649 until the restoration of the Stuart monarchy in 1660. Now the gentry families could build for the future, and they spared no expense in doing so. A distinctive architectural style of this period enables these buildings to be identified and dated fairly easily, for their distinguishing features are steeply-pitched roofs and external chimneys constructed at each end of the house.

Piode Fawr House and farm, Llandybie. The 17th century steeply pitched roof and external chimneys are clearly visible. The house was demolished in the 1980s. Painting © Lorna Parry 1971.

As agriculture gave way to industrialisation throughout the nineteenth century; as manufacturing, trade, the stock market, finance and the professions replaced farming as sources of wealth, the gentry slowly but surely disappeared from view and influence. By the twentieth century industrialisation had effectively put paid to the squirearchy as a social class and the fabulously wealthy around us today receive their millions (and even billions) by other means. Coal was now being mined in unimaginable quantities to fuel the boilers of the industrial revolution and the hearths of a rapidly growing population. And this growth was being financed, not by individual gentry families, but by large, even multi-national, limited companies with vastly larger amounts of capital at their disposal than these 'old money' families could muster.

From 'Historic Carmarthenshire Homes and their Families' we have extracted the entries for houses in the immediate vicinity of Ammanford plus another two – Golden Grove and Dynevor House in nearby Llandeilo – which figure in other parts of this website. The location given for each house is for the parish in which they are situated, not the village, for some houses listed as being in Llandybie are in fact in today's Ammanford (these are indicated by 'Ammanford' in brackets). The entries that follow are as they were printed in 1987 so the fortunes of some of the houses may have changed since then.

Historic Carmarthenshire Homes and their Families
1 ABERLASH, Llandybie
3 BLAENAU, Llandybie
4 CARREG AMAN, Llandybie
5 CILYRYCHEN, Llandybie
6 CWM COCH, Llandybie
7 DERWYDD, Llandybie
8 DYFFRYN, Llandybie
9 DYNEVOR, Llandyfeisant
10 GLYN HIR, Llandybie
11 GOLDEN GROVE, GELLI AUR, Llanfihangel Aberbythych
12 MYDDYNFYCH, Llandybie
13 PARC Y RHUN, Llandybie
14 PIODAU, Llandybie
15 PLAS LLANDYBIE, Llandybie

and their Families

Francis Jones CVO, TD, MA, FSA,
Wales Herald of Arms Extraordinary

Published by
Carmarthenshire Antiquarian Society and
Cultural Services Department,
Dyfed County Council


1. ABERLASH, Llandybie (Ammanford)
West of Myddynfych and one mile south of Llandybie village. 'An old respectable mansion of a family named Evans (Rees, Beauties of South Wales, 322.) The first-known Owner-occupier of Aberlash was William Evans whose daughter and heiress Esther (1634-1710) married Thomas Bennett of Laleston, Glamorgan (d. 1703). Their daughter Anne Bennett (1674-1735) married Illtyd Evans, senior (1698-1746) who settled at Aberlash. He was followed by his son Illtyd Evans junior (1723-1776), and he by his son Thomas Evans senior (strong supporter of the Griffith Jones circulating charity schools), father of Thomas Evans junior, who died without issue, leaving the estate to his aunt Jane Evans who married in 1775 Thomas Howell of Carmarthen, attorney. In October 1805 Aberlash was sold to the tenant Colonel William McClary, a notable farmer. Mrs Jane Howell left a daughter Jenetta Illtyda (1776-1821) who married Dr Henry John Lucas (1773-1840), two of whose grandchildren were Sir Charles Prestwood Lucas, and Mary Anne Lucas who married the first Lord Glanusk and had issue.

Grid Ref SN 6205 1338
Present condition: now a farmhouse.
Sources: Carms. R.O., Aberglasney Colln.; N.L.W. G. E. Owen Colln. 2002-2005; Roberts, Hanes Plwyf Llandybie.

Marked as Plas y Bettws to the east of Ammanford on Colby's Map of 1831. The first to settle there was David William, natural son of William (Gwilym) Jenkin of Gower. His will was dated 1563. His son William David of Bettws was Deputy Steward of the Lordship of Cydweli, and High Sheriff in 1607. His descendants continued at Bettws for a further three generations, the last of whom, David Williams, sold the estate, after which the house and demesne was held by tenants. A descendant of the Williams family, through the distaff, was the deputy-herald Hugh Thomas (died 1720). In much later days, Plas y Bettws was also called Maesyquarre, and although many alterations were made, it still retains a panelled hall. A monkey puzzle tree of generous proportions that grew there is said to have been bought by Charles Darwin – it would seem an appropriate purchase in view of the tree's name.

Grid Ref SN 6517 1213
Sources: Carms. R.O., G.G.B III [Freichfras] 106; Local History Survey 1956; Buckley, Sheriffs, I; Clark, Glamorgan Genealogies 212; Star Chamber Procs. 165; Francis Jones, 'Hugh Thomas, Deputy Herald', Trans. Cymmrodor. 1961, I, 45-71.

3. BLAENAU, Llandybie
Between the villages of Llandybie and Penygroes. In 1713, the owner of the property, the Revd. James Jones, rector of Cound, Salop, granted a lease of Bleyney Mawr in Llandyble to John Jones of Myddynfych, Esq. By mid-18th century it was the home of the Davies family, and marked on Bowen's Map as 'Blayney, Davies, gent.' Mary daughter of Thomas Davies of Blaenau (d. 1783, aged 78) married the Revd. Theophilus Davies, vicar of L their daughter Mary married John Prothero and had an only son John Edward Prothero, surgeon RN., who died in 1836 and his only son Dr David Prothero died at Blaenau in 1869. The residence was described in 1815 as 'a respectable old mansion', in 1840 as 'a handsome old mansion'. An observer noted in 1866, 'Blyne or Blaenau, residence of the highly respectable family of Davies is at present property of David Prothero, Esq., M.D. The Protheroes of Blyne are one of the most kindhearted families in South Wales; they are always ready to give a helping hand to the poor and needy.' During the present century it became a ruin. Fortunately, in 1980, excellent photographs of its exterior and interior were taken by Mr Thomas Lloyd of Court Henry, for, alas, in 1982 the building was completely razed.

Grid Ref SN 6000 1400
Sources: Carms. R.O. John Francis Cc,Ilt,. 23, 24; Llandybe p.r and tombs; Lewis T. D. W.; Carms. Mornumental Inscriptions; Rowlands, Historical Notes 55, 57; Rees, Beauties.

4. CARREG AMAN, Llandybie (Ammanford)
Half a mile south of Cross Inn (now Ammanford). In 1779 (and earlier) Carreg Aman Uchaf (7 acres) and -isaf (44 acres) formed part of the Dynevor estate. Later these properties were sold to the Jones family who built up the Carreg Aman estate. The family's ancestor David John ap William Edward (vivens 1792) owned some small properties in the hills north of Ammanford, and once attended a sale of Carreg Aman, where the auctioneer was clearly partial to some local bidders. Noting that the unknown hill-farmer was resolutely leading 'the field', the auctioneer stopped, am addressed the stranger – 'I do not know you. Have you any sureties that you will be able to pay?' 'Yes' was the reply, and holding up a large bag full of golden sovereigns, 'these are my sureties'. His son John Jones succeed him, and the family continued to increase their estate. One of the last of the family was my old friend, Major Godfrey Morgan Morris, T.D., D.L. While serving in North Italy during World War II, he was severely wounded and captured by the Germans. His parents had no news whatsoever of him for over nine months. While anxiously waiting, a touching event occurred. Throughout active service he had carried with him his Welsh Bible, which was afterwards found on the battlefield by a young officer from Glamorgan who later brought it home and handed it to an aquaintance who travelled to Ammanford and returned it to the anxious parents. Major Morgan-Morris was an only son, and after his death in 1970 at the age of 56, the Carreg Aman estate passed to his first-cousin, Mrs Marcia Rowlands.

Grid Ref SN 6298 1210
Present condition: demolished 1950 for housing estate.
Sources: Carms. RD., Morgan-Morris Colln.; Dynevor Estate Map book.

5. CILYRYCHEN, Llandybie
Half a mile south of Derwydd, and a mile north of Llandybie village. Home of Meredydd B Mawr, a Royal officer whose son David ap Meredydd Boule of Iskennen was selected in 1415 to accompany Henry V's troops to France. About 1550 Cilyrychen was owned by Thomas ap Rhydderch son of Griffith ap Nicholas of Dynevor, thereafter forming part of the Dynevor estate, and was leased to yeomen. It became well-known for its limekilns which continued to operate to within the present century. In 1735 John Owen lived at Cilyrychen and in 1749 a lease was granted to him by George Rice, Esq., with power to build and use two limekilns there, to quarry stones on waste ground on the property for burning lime and for manurement of the said land, but not selling the same cheaper than it is sold at other kilns in the neighbourhood'. Lime proved profitable for John Owen was able to send his only son to Westminster School and Oxford, who took Holy Orders and became vicar of Llandeilo-fawr. In 1798 a map was made by M. Williams, of Cilyrychen (255 acres) and a ground plan of the house and outbuildings, and on the slope of a hillock called Dinas (30 acres) was a 'Warren House'. The Owens were followed by tenants called Thomas, one of whom, David Thomas, graduated at Jesus College, Oxford, and became vicar of Margam 1856-1871, and of Gossington, Oxford, where he died. In 1862 David Thomas held a lease of Cilyrychen lands, and Richard Kyrke Penson of Ferryside held a lease of the stone quarries there.

Grid Ref SN 6153 1714
Present condition: farmhouse.
Sources: Carms. R.O. G.G.B. II {Llewelyn ap Gurgant); N.L.W. Dale Castle Ms. 21; College of Arms Gilfach. Ms. V, 817 W. W.H.R. 1, 77, II, 34.

6. CWM COCH, Llandybie
About a mile from Penygroes school, 'a neat little mansion, property of Protheroe of Blaenau', so described in 1866. About 1870-1890 a Miss Protheroe and Miss Jones lived there and ran a wool club ('clwb gwlannen') for selling shawls, blankets, etc. They were called 'The Ladies of Cwm Coch' and on Sunday mornings attended Gorslas church, and in the evening Llandybie church, to which they travelled in a coach and four. They started a Sunday School class at Cwmcoch, and it has been held there ever since.

Grid Ref SN 5935 1392
Present condition: demolished early 1960's, open cast coal site.
Sources: Carms. R.O., Acc. 232; Rowlands, Historical Notes.

7. DERWYDD, Llandybie
1 1/2 miles north of the village, on a slope overlooking the upper reaches of the Marlais. It is a remarkable fact that the Derwydd estate changed hands six times through the marriage of heiresses, so that the present occupier is a descendant of the earliest known owner of the property. The first reference to the first owner of Derwydd occurs in 1550 when Rhydderch ap Hywel ap Bedo lived there. By his wife Margaret daughter of Owen Philipps of Cilsant, he had an only child, Elizabeth, who married John Gwyn William Philip of Piode, and they too had and only child, Sage, who brought the estate to her husband Sir Henry Vaughan of Golden Grove who came to live at Derwydd. High Sheriff in 1620, Sir Henry died in 1660. Their daughter Rachel Vaughan married her kinsman John Vaughan of Derllys (d. 1722) who was succeeded by his son Richard Vaughan of Derwydd who died without issue, leaving Derwydd to his niece Elizabeth Lloyd, whose mother was Richard's sister. Elizabeth Lloyd brought Derwydd to her husband Sir Thomas Stepney of Llanelly, and it passed to their daughter Elizabeth Bridgetta Stepney who married Joseph Gulston in 1767, and the property has remained ever since in their descendants, and is now the residence of Mr Ralph Alan Stepney Gulston. It is a large impressive house, in good state of preservation, parts of it dating from the 16th century. In 1670 it contained 18 hearths, so that it was among the largest houses in the county at that time. Extensive alterations were made in the latter half of the 19th century, when part of the earlier fabric was demolished. An interesting piece of furniture still in the house is Sir Rhys ap Thomas's bedstead, c. 1500, with carved tester.

[Note: Derwydd Mansion was eventually bought at auction in 1998 by a wealthy businessman whose residence it has now become, though without most of its historic – and valuable – contents which were dispersed in a separate auction held by Sotheby's on the lawn outside the house. Unlike Newton House, Dynevor, and Golden Grove, both open to the public, the mansion's formidable walls and locked gates proclaim 'private property, keep out' to all who pass.]

Grid Ref: SN 6126 1783
Sources: Carms. R.O., Derwydd Coll.; R.C.A.M. (Carms.); Arch. Camb., 1893, 154-163; C.A.S. Index, several refs.; Carms. Miscellany; S. Wales Daily News, 2 & 9 Sept. 1911, illus.; Francis Jones, 'Vaughans of Golden Grove', Trans. Cymmrodor., 1974-5.

8. DYFFRYN, Llandybie (Ammanford)

Dyffryn Road in 1916 with Dyffryn House at the right. The house was demolished in 1977 and in 1980 a new council estate was built on the field at the right of the photo.

Near the west banks of the Loughor, near Ammanford. Marked as 'Dyffryn Price Esq.' on Kitchin Map 1754. 'The stately mansion of Dyffryn in Llandybie district, seat of … Lewes Esq.' – Rees, S. Wales 1815, 312. From pre-1700 it belonged to the Price family. William Price of Dyffryn died c. 1715 when his will was proved. His eldest son Arthur Price (1680-1757) left Dyffryn to his nephew William Jones son of John Jones of Myddynfych who had married Ann, sister of Arthur Price. William Jones, High Sheriff 1772, died in 1805 and Dyffryn was left to his relative William Lewes son of John Lewes of Llanllyr, Cards., by Rebecca Price. It remained in the Lewes family thereafter. A sale catalogue of 1882 describes the house containing entrance hall with an old black oak staircase, dining, drawing and breakfast rooms, study, two other rooms, kitchen, scullery, dairy, pantries, etc.; on the first floor, 6 bedrooms; with attics containing 4 servants' bedrooms; outhouses, gardens, etc., with demesne of about 78 acres. Dyffryn was occupied c. 1920 by Colonel W. N. Jones, M.P. A sale catalogue of 1934 gives similar information. A notice of sale of the Dyffryn estate in 1873 shows that its properties lay in the parishes of Llandybie, Llanon, Llanelly, Llanedy, Bettws and Llanddarog.

Grid Ref SN 6216 1280
Present condition: demolished c. 1960.
Sources: Carms. R.O., Cawdor Colln.; John Francis s.c. 571; N.L.W. Llanilyr Dds.; Llysnewydd Dds.; T.C.A.S.F.C., vol.12, 1917-8,17, & vol. 15, 1921-22, 24.

9. DYNEVOR, Llandyfeisant (Llandeilo)

Newton House, Llandeilo, drawn in 1987

Near Llandeilo, overlooking the vale of Tywi. There are two architectural items to be con sidered. 1. The old stone castle, on a wooded bluff overlooking the vale of Tywi; this had always been Dynevor Castle, Dinefor, Dinefwr, Dynevor, and known by no other name. 2. The mansion, on a flattish plateau, half a mile from the castle and nearer to the town of Llandeilo. In medieval times a number of houses were built here and given the name Newtown, and known to the Welsh as Y Drenewydd. The earliest reference to it is in 1297 when it was New Town, and in 1300-1 the New Town was also called 'the lower town'; in 1360 the 'town of Newton' contained 46 burgages, and was constituted a free borough; here too, was built the dwelling house of the Rhys family that had come from Crug nearby. In 1440 Gruffydd ap Nicholas acquired a lease of the lordship of Dinefwr for 60 years, and in 1454 there is a reference to a house of his called Newton. He flourished in the period 1425-56. He was grandfather of Sir Rhys ap Thomas. A detailed description of 'The mansion of Newton standeth within the town of Newton' was made in 1532, which shows it to have been a large commodious structure with 'a tower of stone' and in the storey over it was a chapel paved with Flanders tile. When Sir Rhys ap Gruffydd was executed in 1531, his possessions became forfeited to the Crown. In 1615 James I sold the castle and demesne (which included Newton) to one Richard Budd, who left the property to his nephew William Wase with directions to sell it to Henry Rice of Newton for £344, which was done in 1635, and it remained in the hands of his family until the middle of the present century. The old name of the mansion continued to be used until the beginning of the 19th century, when it acquired the name of Dynevor Castle, and occasionally Dynevor Park. The family name also underwent changes – the name Rhys had become Rice in the 16th century, and continued as such until 26 December 1916 when the 7th Lord Dynevor obtained Royal Licence for himself and issue to use the name Rhys in lieu of Rice. The present mansion was built by Sir Edward Rice in 1660, that date being carved on some of the trusses in the roof, a large cube of three storeys, with ranges of 7 windows. Interior changes made such as plaster ceilings and panelling were probably carried out in 1720 by Griffith Rice. A des cription made in 1803 tells it 'is a large quad rangular structure, with turrets at each corner crowned with domes: it has lately been modernized . . .' (Barber, Tour, 1803, 132). In 1854-7, Victorian-Gothic additions were made by R. Kyrke Penson who limited his work to the castellation, the house being refaced with stone, rewindowed and the present towers added.

[Note: Newton House was purchased by the National Trust in 1990 who have since restored it. It is currently open to the public. Check the National Trust website for opening times etc. on: http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk.]

Grid Ref old castle SN 6115 2173; mansion SN 61442253
Present condition: derelict.
Sources: Carms. R.O., Dynevor Colln.; N.L.W. Dynevor Colln.; Dwnn I and Il; Lewis Glyn Cothi, I; Powell, Blodau Dyfed; Burke, Visitations; Dineley, Progress of Duke of Beaufort; Bridgeman, Princes of S. Wales; Morris, Welsh Wars of Ed. I; Samuel, Llandeilo; Lord Dynevor, History of Old and Modern Castles of Dynevor; Morgan, Story of Carms.; Allen, S. Wales and Mon.; D. W.B.; D.N.B.; W.W.H.R. I & II; CAS Index; Arch. Camb., 1948.

10. GLYN HIR, Llandybie

Glynhir Mansion, Llandybie, drawn in 1987

1 1/4 miles east of Llandybie, above the west banks of the Llwchwr where the waterfall is. The mansion is a two-storeyed double-pile structure and an attic storey with dormer windows, the earliest part being the south east block with a high-pitched roof with morticed collar beam trusses, probably 17th century: the moulded wooden eaves, if original, suggest a date not long before 1700, as are a few reset chamfered beams in a ground floor room; a massive projecting chimney stack on the west gable shows that the house was conceived in the local vernacular tradition. The north block which now contains the main entrance is probably an addition, or a modification of the earlier structure, and is late 18th century in character; it has a large entrance hall and a stair-way. There is some moulded plaster work, and a small vaulted cellar. The final extension was the addition of a 19th century kitchen and offices on the west. Nearby is a polygonal dovecot, and there is a local tradition that the earliest news of the victory of Waterloo was brought here by an obliging pigeon released immediately after the battle. A large subterranean ice-house with masonry retaining walls and a vaulted roof, is situated at a convenient distance from the house. It was sold in 1936 and is now used as a hotel. A sale catalogue of 1936 describes the residence as 'recently renovated', and comprising an entrance hall, dining and drawing rooms, cloak room, butler's pantry and domestic offices, seven bedrooms and two bathrooms, attics, with outbuildings and a walled garden; the nearby home-farm comprised 187 acres. The earliest known family there was that of Powell. Morgan Powell of Glynhir was buried at Llandybie in 1729, and was followed by Rees Powell (who subscribed to printing Drych y Pnf Oesoedd in 1740), and then came Richard Powell, J.P., who died in 1770. Glynhir was then put up for sale, and it was said in the catalogue that 'great improvements were by the late owner made in this demesne'. It was bought by Peter DuBuisson (son of a Hugenot refugee), partner in The Glamorgan Bank, and Receiver-General of the counties of Carmarthen, Pembroke, and Cardigan. He died in 1772 barely two years after the purchase. He was followed by his son William who planted a row of chestnut trees at Glynhir, to commemorate the Battle of Waterloo, and subscribed to the Picton Monument Fund in 1815; he was High Sheriff in 1826, and died in 1828. His son William succeeded him, and was High Sheriff in 1871, and is described as owner of 2,153 acres in 1873. He died without issue in 1894, leaving Glynhir to his nephew Arthur Edmund DuBuisson, a barrister of the Inner Temple, who died in 1930, after which Glynhir was sold. I accompanied his son, Mr W. A. DuBuisson, and Mrs DuBuisson, to see Glynhir in the early 1960s.

Grid Ref SN 6395 1518
Sources: Carms. R.0., Cawdor Colln., Glasbrook Colln., John Francis s.c. 550, C.D.X./144/21; Burke, L. G., 1898 and 1952; Thomas, The Good Old Days and Days of Old; Carms. Antiq., II, I, illus., 11-12, 10-24. III, 222, IX, 143, 147; Neath Antiq., 1936-7; Western Mail, 1 Oct. 1974, illus.

11. GOLDEN GROVE, GELLI AUR, Llanfihangel Aberbythych

Golden Grove Mansion, Llandeilo, drawn in 1987

For four and a half centuries Golden Grove was one of the most important of Carms. residences, its families amongst the most distinguished. The Vaughans descended from the ancient Princes of Powys, settled in Carms. about 1490, and the first mansion was built at Golden Grove at the beginning of Elizabeth's reign. John Vaughan, grandson of the builder was knighted and in 1628 created Earl of Carbery. The 3rd (and last) Earl died in 1713, leaving an only child and heir, Lady Anne Vaughan, who married the Duke of Bolton. On her death without issue in 1751, the Golden Grove estate passed to a distant cousin, John Vaughan, whose grandson John Vaughan, Lord Lieutenant of Carms. died without issue in 1804 leaving the estate to his friend Lord Cawdor now represented by the 6th Earl Cawdor. There have been three successive mansions at Golden Grove:
1. The first was built about 1560-65 by John Vaughan, to which additions were made in later years. As it was assessed at 30 hearths in 1670, it must have been a particularly large house. Jeremy Taylor who found refuge at Golden Grove in Commonwealth times, wrote several books here, and one of the title pages has an engraving, showing a large house amongst trees which is said to have been Golden Grove, but there is no firm proof of this. On folio 223 of Dineley's Progress of the Duke of Beaufort, 1684, there is a sketch of 'Golden Grove, and Dinevour Castle ruines', but the former, a large house amongst trees, is not very clear. Lord Ashburnham's journal for 5 July 1687 contains this entry – 'We saw Lord Carbury's fine seate called Golden Grove; it is in a bottom near this river (Tywy), very well wooded, and seems to be a fine wholesom place' (Carms. Miscellany, ed. A. Mee, 1892). In 1717 Golden Grove is said to be 'in a very large Park which is delicately wooded'. This mansion stood until 1729 when it was largely destroyed by a disastrous fire.
2. After the fire most of the mansion was in ruins. But in the years 1754-57, a new residence was built alongside the old, from which certain surviving items such as floors were incorporated in the new. John Vaughan was responsible for the rebuilding, the work being supervised and directed by his son Richard. When the latter inherited, in 1765, a few more additions were made, and a good deal of decorations to the interior was carried out by the famous Polletti family, plasterers, of Carmarthen. In 1770 a painting was made of the mansion, which shows a large house of two storeys, each with a range of seven windows, and an attic storey with seven dormer windows; the entrance doorway is flanked with two pillars; a large 'wing' of the same height extends to the rear. In 1782-87, a detailed terrier made of the demesne (1,021 acres) contains a ground plan of the mansion – main block (as shown in the painting) with two long wings extending to the rear. Joseph Gulston who called there in 1785 was not too impressed – 'Mr. Vaughan's, about 2 miles from Llandeilo (is) but a small house . . . You first come in a hall, and then a dining room on one side and a drawing room on the other, dressing room etc. All the Pictures are put into a Lumber Garret. Good Gardens'. Another caller was equally censorious. Malkin wrote in 1804 – 'I confess myself not a little disappointed on arriving at the place. . . The house approaches almost to meanness, and the situation is flat and low . . . Golden Grove appears an object of more magnitude, more capable of impression, than when looked down upon from the eminence on either side of the river. It conveys the idea of a fine and desirable estate, and the lands appear rich and well cultivated: but it is neither splendid as a residence, nor interesting as an object of picturesque attraction'. The mansion continued to be used until 1826, after which it was pulled down.
3. In 1826 the 1st Earl Cawdor started to build a new mansion higher up on the slope, about 700 yards south-west of the older one. The architect was the eminent Wyattville whose plans have been preserved. The work was completed in 1834. With their other seat, Stackpole Court (Pembs.), Golden Grove continued to be the Welsh seat of the Earls Cawdor. During World War II it was occupied by the U.S. Air Force. In 1952 a lease of the mansion and surrounding land was granted to the Carms. County Council who used it as an Agricultural Institute. The lease is still in being. In 1976 the 6th Earl Cawdor sold most of his large estates in West Wales and it is now owned by the Electricians' Pension Fund, but the grantor retained his right to the reversion at the termination of the lease of 1952. The mansion is well maintained, as also are the ornamental grounds, particularly the attractive arboretum.

Grid Ref SN 5966 1984
Sources: Carms. R.O., Cawdor Colln.; Allen, S. Wales and Mon., illus.; Francis Jones, 'The Vaughans of Golden Grove, I, The Earls of Carbury', Trans. Cyrnmr., 1963, 96-145; 'The Vaughans of Golden Grove, II, Anne Duchess of Bolton, Trans. Cymrnr., 1963, 223-250; 'The Vaughans of Golden Grove III: Torycoed, Shenfield, Trans. Cymrnr., 1966, 167-192, and 149-137; Trans. Cyrnmr., 1964, part II.

12. MYDDYNFYCH, Llandybie (Ammanford)
About one and a half miles south of Llandybie; on the outskirts of Tir y dail, Ammanford. 'Meddynfych blâs' is mentioned in a 14th century poem in Myv. Arch., p. 140. In the late 14th century and the 15th century home of an ancient family descended from Sir Elidir Ddu of Crüg. Griffith ap Sir Elidir was the first to settle at Myddynfych and was followed there by six generations of his descendants, until the 17th century. It was afterwards home of Walter Lloyd, gent., whose two daughters and coheirs were living there in 1696. Later it passed to John son of John Jones of Coalbrook. He married in 1720 Anne daughter of William Price of Dyffryn, Llandybie. John died in 1756, and his son and heir William Jones went to live at Dyffryn. It afterwards had several tenants successively, among them John Lucas in 1786, William Roderick in 1790.

Grid Ref SN 6290 1325
Present condition: in use.
Sources: Carms. R.O., G.G.B. I [ John Francis Dds.; N.L.W. G. E. Owen Colln.; Aberglasney Colln.; Thomas, The Good Old Days, illus.

13. PARC Y RHUN, Llandybie (Ammanford)
About half a mile south of Cross Inn (now called Ammanford) near the boundary with Bettws parish. Lewys Glyn Cothi (d. c. 1486) wrote an ode of praise to Hywel ap Henri 'O Barc y Rhun' ap Gwilym ap Thomas Fychan, whom he called 'prince of Iscennen'. In 1774 Park yr Hun-Uchaf (122 acres) and -Isaf (136 acres) were part of the Dynevor estate.

Grid Ref SN 6239 1132
Present condition: farmhouse.
Sources: N.L.W. Dynevor map book, 1774; Lewis Glyn Cothi, ii, 338.

14. PIODAU, Llandybie
About half a mile west of the village. Piodau and Piodau fach are marked on Colby's Map 1831, and Piodau fawr on modern Ordnance Survey maps. In deeds dated 1660-2, the farm of Piodey Yssa is named but its former site is not known. Piodau (fawr) is an early two storeyed 17th century residence, T-shaped, with a fine oaken Jacobean staircase of two flights with a small gallery on the top floor, and rises from the small hall towards the rear of the house. The doorway has a small rectangular fanlight. The walls are 31/2 feet thick, the main fireplaces are at the gable ends, one chimney is of the protruding type and some 40 feet high. In 1670 the house contained five hearths. The earliest-known owners were the Gwyns, descended from John Gwyn William who lived at Derwydd in 1563 having married the heiress of that house. Their younger son, William Gwyn, was the first to settle at Piodau, and was living there in 1636. His descendants continued for a further three generations, and finally came to a coheiress Jane Gwyn who married Charles Phillips of Plas Llandybie. Jane died in 1741, Charles in 1770, and their daughter and heiress, Margaret Elizabeth Phillips, married Richard Vaughan of Golden Grove, who thus acquired Piodau. Their son John Vaughan became Lord Lieutenant, and died without issue in 1804, leaving the estate to Lord Cawdor, In whose possess ion Piodau remained down to the present century. It had been let to farmers from the first half of the 18th century. During the 1960s it had been acquired by the National Coal Board, and the tenants of Piodau were ordered to leave by October 1971 as plans had been made for open-cast mining in the area which included the farm. The Board agreed not to demolish the listed ancient house (which was in excellent condition in 1971). However, by 1983 the house had become badly decayed, the interior, including the historic staircase, had been vandalised and is now demolished. It is a sad tale.

Grid Ref SN 6114 1521
Sources: Carms. R.O., G.G.B. II [Ideo Wyllt]; Cawdor Coll., Glasbrook Colln.; Smith, Houses of tile Welsh Countryside, plans, figs., sketch; Carrms. Studies, plan Western Mail, 22 July 1971, illus.

15. PLAS LLANDYBIE, Llandybie

Drawing of Plas Llandybie in 1987 (demolished in 1968).

Situated in the village. A late 16th century or early 17th century residence of two storeys and attics; it contained a fine 17th century oak staircase of four flights, with turned balusters, moulded strings and handrails, square newels and turned pendants. At the top of the bottom flight stood a dog-gate formed like a port cullis. There were several 17th century or early Georgian doors, their halves having semi-circular arches and recessed panels: the plaster ceiling and the panelling survived in the parlour, and also remnants of the coved ceiling above the stair well. Outside, and near to the residence stood some large and impressive outhouses. The Plas had been used as a farmhouse for about a century and a half, but towards the middle of the present century the residence and outbuildings had become ruinous, and in 1967 the Llandeilo Rural District Council recommended its demolition, and, sad to say, consequent total demolition was carried out with the utmost efficiency and expertise. Thanks to R.C.A.M. who visited it in 1911, and to Mr Vernon Jones who visited, photographed, and described it in October 1968, we have a record of this interesting and historic house. Owen Brigstocke of Llechdwnni farmed Plas in the second half of the 17th century. It became the property of the Phillips family of Liettygariad. Charles Phillips married in 1726 Jane daughter and heiress of Arthur Gwyn of Piodau. Their only daughter and heiress Margaret Elizabeth married Richard Vaughan of Golden Grove in 1751, and brought Plas to her husband, and in due course passed to their son John Vaughan (d. 1804) who devised it by will to Lord Cawdor. The mansion was untenanted in 1776 when the outbuildings were let to David Fisher upon his paying the window tax: it is called The Great House, outbuildings arid demesne (122a).

Grid Ref SN 6186 1540
Sources: Carms. R.O. Cawdor/Vaughan mapbooks; R.C.A.M. (Carms.) illus.; Thomas, Days of Old; Carms. Misc., I; Carms. Historian, 1968, illus.; Western Mail, 5 May, 1967, illus.

Historic Carmarthenshire Homes and their Families
1 ABERLASH, Llandybie
3 BLAENAU, Llandybie
4 CARREG AMAN, Llandybie
5 CILYRYCHEN, Llandybie
6 CWM COCH, Llandybie
7 DERWYDD, Llandybie
8 DYFFRYN, Llandybie
9 DYNEVOR, Llandyfeisant
10 GLYN HIR, Llandybie
11 GOLDEN GROVE, GELLI AUR, Llanfihangel Aberbythych
12 MYDDYNFYCH, Llandybie
13 PARC Y RHUN, Llandybie
14 PIODAU, Llandybie
15 PLAS LLANDYBIE, Llandybie

Date this page last updated: October 1, 2010