|Gwydir, Shrewsbury and Haye on Wye|
Breakfast at Gwydir
Judith Welford (the wife of the couple who own the place) made us toast with jam, scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon (English bacon is like strips of Canadian bacon), sauteed mushrooms, tomatoes, grapefruit, cereal, coffee, tea, milk and orange juice. We ate it sitting in the room that I sat in last night typing up my notes of the day. She had built a small fire in the fireplace and that was just right to knock the chill off the room. North Wales is very cool. I've worn a couple of shirts and my sweater almost every day. It also rains some portion of every day here.
Well, after I'd already taken a bunch of photos, Ox asked if we could and she said "no." So I'm going to post only "room" photos. And none of the things she was particularly concerned about.
Can We Have Our Dining Room Back?
One of the most amazing stories about Gwydir is that in 1921 a lot of the furnishings were auctioned off. One of the things was the entire dining room. Yes, that's right William Randolph Hearst bought the entire dining room. Wood paneled walls, gold painted leather friezes (it looks like wall paper above the paneling), carved doorway, fireplace, windows, the whole thing. It was pried off the walls and shipped to America in crates. When he died it went to the Metropolitan Museum in New York.
Peter and Judith Welford have been tracking down all the items that were sold and to try to get them back. So they contacted the Met and made arrangements to meet with the Museum. They were taken in a car with blacked out windows to a secret location where the Met keeps stuff. It turns out that Hearst never had the crates unpacked. Neither did the Met. So the Welford's were the first people to break the seals on the crates. The Met agreed to sell it back to them.
It's almost fortunate that the items weren't in the house, because a fire in that wing, gutted that room after it was all removed. So the Welfords painstakingly rebuilt the floor and roof and put the beautiful oak paneling back on the walls. The room is just a wonder. There is a great hall (of which the house has several), that I thought looked awfully bare, but it turns out that they are not renovating it on purpose since that room was sold as well. They are still looking for who bought it at the big 1921 auction. If you've seen an oak great room, please call the Gwydir Castle bed and breakfast and let them know you've got part of their house.
We briefly went by Shrewsbury. Brother Cadfael mystery fans will recognize this as the site of the monk turned sleuth's mysteries. The castle that is there now is a late 1700s addition. The original castle walls that King Stephen hung the defenders of Shrewsbury castle from would have been timber. It was a Norman mot and bailey. (That's a tower on top of a steep hill.) It was replaced later with a stone castle built by... can you guess? Oh come on. Who built castles all over this part of Wales? I'm just not going to tell you. If you don't remember, you'll have to go look at yesterday's blog.
That stone castle is gone as well. Only the outline remains at the top of the old mot. The pretty little tower that is there now is just decorative. However, the river still runs past the castle that all those ne'r-do-wells tossed their hapless victims in the Brother Cadfael mysteries. So I took some shots of that. We stopped at a brassiere to have lunch and I had possibly the best turkey sandwich of my entire life. The bread was just melt in your mouth buttery soft.
We spent most of the day in the car driving. When there are no tractors on the road going 30 miles per hour, and there are no loose sheep on the road, one can make very good time on a Welsh road. However, there are many tractors and sheep in Wales. How good that Ox enjoys zipping around curvey roads and that we are all enchanted by the mountain scenery.
Haye on Wye
Regrettably we arrived very late in Haye on Wye. We dashed Maggie to the bookstores she most wanted to go into. Almost all the buildings in the entire town are now used book stores. The streets are just lined with them. After finishing at the Cinema bookstore. (I have no idea about the name) we went into the Castle Bookstore. Yes, that's right, they've converted the town castle into a used book store. While there, the elderly "King of Used Books," Richard Booth, cornered Maggie and wanted to talk about Native Americans and Oklahoma. He's the retail merchant who came up with the idea to convert the town to a used book store and he owns several of them. His wife appears to run the Castle Bookstore.
Ah, the internet has been so rare, that I've stayed up much too late trying to get all my blogs posted. It's time to turn in here at the Cardiff Marriott. Tomorrow we travel to Bath and spend the day.