Small won­der that po­ets pros­per on the beau­ti­ful Traws­goed es­tate

The Daily Telegraph - Saturday - - Property - Clive Aslet

Ihave been visit­ing Traws­goed, an­ces­tral seat of the Vaugh­ans. The Vaugh­ans be­came Earls of Lis­burne in the 18th cen­tury and built an el­e­gant house, en­cas­ing an ear­lier one. Along came the Ed­war­dians, with their shoot­ing par­ties, and pumped iron. A slip of a man­sion was trans­formed into the In­cred­i­ble Hulk, the sort of place that can only be run with an army of staff. The in­evitable hap­pened; it fell on hard times. One end has been turned into a flat, through an out­fit called Stately Hol­i­day Homes, and there I stayed, wak­ing to misty views of what is still a very beau­ti­ful park.

The rest of Traws­goed will soon be con­verted, it is hoped, by a new owner. The Earls have de­parted, al­though the Hon John Vaughan, who works for Sav­ills, is still to be seen there, with his brothers.

It was a Lord Lis­burne who built the Vic­to­rian church in the vil­lage of Llanafan. An­other, more sin­gu­lar con­tri­bu­tion made by the Lis­burnes is the Women’s In­sti­tute cot­tage. A col­lec­tion of pho­to­graphs held by Ceredi­gion County Coun­cil shows ladies in print dresses and cloche hats, more than equal to keep­ing the old-fash­ioned cot­tage with its hur­ri­cane lamp over the bare ta­ble spot­less. It is as pretty as ever.

Tucked away be­hind Aberys­t­wyth, the sur­round­ings of Llan­fan are pic­turesque. A cou­ple of miles away, Thomas Johnes cre­ated the dra­matic land­scape park of Hafod, all cav­erns and wa­ter­falls, in the late 18th cen­tury. In the Vic­to­rian pe­riod, John Murray’s Hand­book for Trav­ellers in South Wales and its Borders spoke se­dately of the “ro­man­tic scenery” of the din­gles. You might think that the best crea­ture to ask about the his­tory of the place was a sheep — and cer­tainly there would be plenty to choose from.

But this sog­gily ver­dant coun­try also has an­other di­men­sion. The Ro­mans sailed round the coast and built a fort here, be­cause of the min­er­als. The lead mines con­tin­ued into the 20th cen­tury, leav­ing long, grey bibs where no plant will grow be­low the mine open­ings on the hill­sides. The count house, which be­gan life as an ac­count­ing house for the Lis­burne Mine com­pany in 1834, is on the mar­ket with Evans Brothers of Aber­aeron for £279,500 (01545 570462).

To­day, Mid Wales is more a place for los­ing your­self, or per­haps dis­cov­er­ing your­self. You could do this on the Traws­goed es­tate, where a five-bed­room cot­tage with 20 acres is be­ing of­fered by John Francis of Aberys­t­wyth for £449,995 (01970 612310). If there is only one of you — two at a pinch — Jim RawRees, of Ceredi­gion, has the very thing: a pocket-sized, white-walled cot­tage with one bed­room for £125,000 (01970 617179).

The 20th-cen­tury poet T H Jones was born in an iso­lated shep­herd’s cot­tage near Llanafan. I can be­lieve it: the views from some of th­ese cot­tages and farm­houses would bring out the poet in any­one. Be­sides, the Swyddffynon mill, with for­mer grain kiln that could be con­verted and an acre of gar­den, comes with an ask­ing price of £298,000. A poet, al­though per­haps not a shep­herd, might even be able to af­ford it.

Clive Aslet is Ed­i­tor at Large of

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