Fascinating

History

Construction of the House of Rhianfa began in early spring 1849 by Sir John Hay William Baronet of Bodelwyddan and his wife Lady Sarah Hay Williams.

Originally, Plas Rhianfa was built as a dower house for Lady Sarah and was intended to provide both Lady Sarah and the couple's two daughters with a comfortable residence in the event of Sir John's death. Having no male heir of his own, Sir John's title, along with his many properties and ancestral estate at Bodelwyddan, were to be inherited by his younger brother, Hugh Williams.

The Williams drew inspiration for the design of the house from their experiences of travelling in the Loire region of France, and were particularly enamoured with the architectural style favoured in this region during the reign of Francois I (1515-1547). Five castles specifically caught their attention; Blois, Chambord, Amboise, Chenonssaux and Chaumont.

Lady Sarah was a proficient artist and had been trained to draw by Peter de Wint, the eminent English watercolourist and landscape artist whose works now appear in the National Gallery and Tate Gallery, London. Lady Sarah made many sketches of the Loire Valley Castles and these served as the primary influence for the external architecture of the house. However, these sketches were needed to be put into working order and in order to do this successfully an architect was to be employed. Charles Reed Esq., of Liverpool was given this grand task but was made to strictly conform to the original idea and was allowed only to draw the plans of the shell of the house. John Rogers of Beaumaris was the builder who took the contract for the house and built it. Interestingly, after the mere shell of the house was finished, Reed was dismissed and everything relating to the interiors was left to Sir John and Lady Sarah.

It can be seen that Lady Sarah wanted everything in the house to be perfect, so not only was the architecture delicately chosen, so was the name. The name "Rhianfa" (which means lady's habitat or abode) also took much consideration. The name was proposed by the Rev. Williams Hicks Owen, senior Vicar of St. Asaph Cathedral. However, before this name was fully adopted, it was submitted to several distinguished Welsh Scholars who entirely approved it.

In 1859 Sir John died leaving Lady Sarah to live in the house until her own death in 1876 at which point Lady Margaret, one of their two daughters, inherited the property. Soon after this her husband, Sir Edmund, inherited his family estate of Claydon in Buckinghamshire and the couple moved away from Anglesey. Lady Margaret nevertheless continued to maintain her relationship with the Anglesey and North Wales communities. After the death of her husband in 1910, Lady Margaret moved back to Plas Rhianfa permanently, although in 1922 the house became advertised for sale, the reasons for which still remain unknown but a sale never materialised and Lady Margaret remained in the house until her own death in 1930.

Little is known about what happened to the property following Lady Margaret's death, but in 1955 the house was given to her grandson, Dr Andrew Verney, and his wife, as a wedding present, although due to work commitments in London the house was sold soon after this gift in 1957. The house was converted into apartments and much of the land sold off leaving only 3 of the 12 acres in the possession of the estate.

Despite the many changes over time Plas Rhianfa has retained much of its original character and through its restoration by Clarenco the property is still as beautiful now as it was when it was first constructed and still retains much of its original character.

At A

Glance

  • Stunning Grade-II-Listed Hotel, Event Venue & Wedding Destination
  • 22 Lovingly Restored Luxury Bedroom Suites
  • 8 Function Rooms, Including the Ornate Banqueting Hall & Wine Caves
  • Gym, Sauna & Hot Tub, All Available for Guests
  • Landscaped Gardens, Private Beach & Mountain Views
  • Set on the Isle of Anglesey, Making it a Great Place to Explore