Yesterday saw a good turnout for the Anglesey Antiquarian Society’s last excursion for 2016.These trips are always interesting; visiting historic sites around the island, often places that you wouldn’t normally be able to access. The tours are led by knowledgeable guides, and there are usually several visitors in the group who can spot interesting features and contribute additional bits of information to complete the picture.
We visited Bodior House near Rhoscolyn on a blustery, soft rain type of day. We were glad to get in out of the rain, into the main sitting room, where our guides Robin Grove-White and Andrew Davidson introduced us to the house.
This is a gentry house, first built in the 16th century. A tablet over one of the windows bears the date 1529, and another below that window has the initials J.O.O., for the estate owner John Owen. The Owen family were descendants of a Welsh clan leader, Llywelyn Aurdorchog, who was from Denbighshire but also owned land around Rhoscolyn. The house and estate passed down through the family, often through the female line, who married other local landowners, with the result that land holdings were combined. The estate eventually passed to the Lewis family of Plas Llanfigael, and a later marriage to the Hampton family of Henllys, near Beaumaris, resulted in the owners being known as the Hampton-Lewis family. It is now owned by the Bulmer family, of cider-making fame, who use it as a summer retreat.
Although built in the 16th century, the house has been modified and extended many times through the centuries. It would have originally consisted of the main sitting room, just inside the main entrance, with a room on either side, and additional rooms on the story above. It has been extended a couple of times at one end with a service wing with kitchen and utilities rooms, plus numerous bedrooms and baths.The last remodelling took place in 1848 (commemorated by another dated plaque above the main entrance), so the house retains its 19th century character, including the carved main staircase in the sitting room, and the early Victorian fire surrounds in many of the bedrooms, some decorated with enamelled slate.
After the brief introduction by Robin and Andrew the group were given free rein to explore the house, with no areas off limits, before regrouping in the sitting room to discuss the features of interest that were spotted. We looked for evidence of the differing periods of extension and remodelling, as shown by variations in the timber & stone flooring and styles of doorways and windows. There were some interesting and intricately carved furnishings and some period pieces, like the wind-up gramophone.
A particularly fun aspect of the exploration was looking for evidence of the vocation of the current owners. Books about the Bulmer family and cider-making were in many rooms, apple-shaped cutting boards were in the kitchen alongside bottles of Bulmer’s cider, ready for the next cider casserole, and crates marked “Bulmer’s Hereford” were in some of the unused rooms. The many objects on shelves and walls throughout the house included an inordinate number of green woodpecker items: paintings, carved wooden figures and taxidermy specimens. It seemed curious until I remembered that the green woodpecker was the symbol of Bulmer’s Woodpecker Cider!
After the debriefing sessions some of us went on to explore a nearby tidal mill, the subject of my next blog.