History of Ty-Mawr Farm
From 1093 – mid1500s: Norman to Tudor times
The earliest evidence we have relating specifically to Ty Mawr dates to 1584 when the house was called Talyllyn House. At the time Hugh Powell resided here, as Lord of the Manor of Llangasty Talyllyn. However, it is possible that the house dates back further. Some sources suggest that the manor of Llangasty Talyllyn was once given to Reginald Walbeoffe by Bernard de Neufmarche, a Norman warlord who conquered Brecon around 1093. De Neufmarche had seized the land from Bleddin ap Maenarch, a native Welsh lord. It is unclear whether or not this refers to the actual house here, or to the manorial parish of Llangasty Talyllyn on the south side of the lake. A motte (an earthen castle mound) is situated very close to the house, showing signs of Norman activity in the area immediately surrounding the house.
After the Norman Conquest, it was part of Cantref Mawr, owned by the Lordship of Brecon, and later sources (such as court records, as mentioned below) refer to the manor as Croft Y Yarll or The Earl’s Croft. This suggests a direct link to that lordship, however, there is no other evidence to support this at the moment. After the Act of Union in 1536, the administration of Wales was divided into shire counties, and independence of lordships weakened. There was some local independence on a parish-level, and the Manor of Llangasty Talyllyn, i.e. Talyllyn House, was like many other manors the centre for the court where local parish disputes were heard and settled.
1584 – early 1700s: The Powells, Williams’ and Parrys
In 1584 Hugh Powell was the Lord of the Manor of Llangasty Talyllyn. In that year Powell was taken to court by a woman called Blanche Parry. Blanche Parry was an important servant to Queen Elizabeth I and was a close confidant, and owned the rights to fishing on Llangorse Lake. Powell had built illegal weirs to fish, and the court decided these should be demolished and he should pay Parry £5 in damages. The witness statements for the court hearing show Powell’s ancestors owned the house at least 50 years previously, in 1534. The documents of the hearing are kept in the Public Records Office.
We have lots more information from the 17th and 18th Centuries when the house was still being used as the court for local disputes. In the mid-1600s, the house was owned by the Williams family, who inherited the house through Thomas Williams’ marriage to Margaret Powell (the last Powell heir). Edward Williams was the Lord of the Manor for numerous court hearings from 1669-1695. In 1695, he died without an heir, and so the Manor of Talyllyn was left to his sister Rachel. She was married to Joshua Parry, who as the male head of the family became Lord of the Manor. Joshua Parry was descendent of Blanche Parry, who had been in a dispute with Hugh Powell over a hundred years before! A glass wine bottle seal with Joshua Parry’s name on it has been found during excavations here at Ty Mawr.
The mid-1700s: Richard Davies and Philip de Crespigny
Through marriage again, the house passed onto the Davies family of Cwrt Y Gollen, during the mid-1700s. Richard Davies had gained a very large estate, including the neighbouring manor of Blaenllynfi. He sold the house in 1794 at Mr Christie’s auction house in London (now the world-famous Christie’s). We have a copy of the advertisement for the sale of the house, and in this, it is described as “a good old stone built and slated Mansion House... to which the present Proprietor meant to have added a regular Building” and that the estate circles 20 miles, containing over 2000 acres of land! This shows the size of the estate massed by Richard Davies. The man who bought the estate was Philip Champion de Crespigny, who was a well-known member of the upper class and owned lots of property in Britain. It was de Crespigny who finished the building work mentioned in the advertisement, which forms the buildings which stand at Ty Mawr today.
DeCrespigny also owned a lot of lands, as well as the huge estate he purchased from Richard Davies. De Crespigny and his son Charles Fox Champion de Crespigny were at times the High Sheriff of Breconshire.
1800 onwards: from the mansion to a farmhouse
It is probably because of the fact that both Richard Davies and Philip de Crespigny owned land and houses elsewhere that Talyllyn House became less important to them, and de Crespigny leased the mansion as a farmhouse from 1800 onwards. A prominent family in the history of the house, the Perrott family, leased the house and farmed the land from 1810. From William Perrott, the farm passed on to his son Rees Perrott. In the documents for the sale of the house, from Charles de Crespigny to James Price Gwynne Holford in 1838, the manor is still referred to as the Manor of Llangasty Talyllyn, Croft Y Yarll, and the house as Talyllyn House. However, on a map showing church tithes (taxes) from 1840, it is now called Great House, or Ty Mawr in Welsh. The layout of the house according to this map shows differences to the buildings now. This suggests that the old Talyllyn Hosue was still standing. In 1842 Rees Perrott had died, and his wife Gladis was now the head farmer, of 186 acres of land according to the census in 1851. So from being an estate worth 2000 acres, it had been reduced to 186 acres in just over 50 years.
1861 to modern times: from farm to the manufacturer of lime products!
From 1861, the tenancy was in the hands of the Jones family. The 1881 Census tells us that it had now become “Ty Mawr Farm”. In 1887, an Ordnance Survey map of the area, to the scale of 25 inches to one mile, was produced and the structural plan of Ty Mawr can be seen. The structure resembles the layout of the buildings today, and so it is clear that the old mansion had been destroyed by this point. In 1920, the Jones’ purchased the house and continued to use it as a farm until they sold it in 1990, their family have been farmers at the house for almost 130 years. After a brief period of ownership by the Brecon Beacons National Park, it was purchased by Nigel Gervis and Joyce Morgan in 1993. The family-run business based here produces traditional and historical building materials and runs courses in how to use them. The historical nature of the business’ product is in accord with the site’s incredibly rich past.
Report prepared by The Brecon Beacons National Park Authority June 2018
This report presents the results of historical research, field survey and excavation carried out on the buried remains of a substantial Elizabethan and later manor house at Ty Mawr, LLangasty Talyllyn, Powys between 1993 - 2001. The background to the various elements of this project is given, in particular, the educational excavation and field studies program designed and carried out jointly by the then Brecon Beacons Park Educational Officer and Archaeologist. To see this report please click here!
- 1090’s Bernard de Neufmarche bequeathed the Manor of Llangasty Talyllyn to Reginald Walbeoffe. There is a Norman motte in a nearby field.
- 1580’s Ty Mawr, then called Talyllyn House, was owned by Hugh Powell, Lord of the Manor of Llangasty Talyllyn. In 1584 Powell was involved in a dispute over fishing rights on the lake with Blanche Parry, Lady in Waiting to Queen Elizabeth I when an Inquiry map was drawn.
- 1644 The house passed from the Powell family to the Williams family.
- 1699 Rachel Williams married Joshua Parry (great-great-grandnephew of Blanche Parry).
- 1745 Mary Parry married Richard Davies of Cwrt y Gollen.
- 1794 House and estate totalling over 2000 acres was sold to Philip Champion de Crespingny for £1600. The house and outbuildings underwent extensive remodelling which was probably never completed
- 1810 It was leased as a farm.
- 1838 The house was sold to James Price Gwynne Holford, owner of the Buckland Estate. House name changes from Talyllyn House to Ty Mawr. At some time between 1840 and 1887, the main manor house was demolished.
- 1920 The farm, with approximately 200 acres, was bought by the Jones family, who had leased it since 1861.
- 1990 Ty Mawr Farm was bought by Brecon Beacons National Park Authority in order to control development on the southern side of the lake.
- 1993 The farm buildings plus 40 acres of land bought by Nigel and Joyce Gervis
- 1995 Ty Mawr Lime Ltd established.
- July 2018 -visit by Robert Champion de Crespigny, (descendant of Phillip who owned Ty-Mawr in 1794) We showed him atlases now in our possession given to us by a friend, they, coincidentally, had a name of their former owner on the inside cover, another de Crespigny – de Crespigny Smiley. Robert knew the atlas owner’s son - Xan de Crespigny Smiley so was able to pass the news on that his father’s atlases had rather extraordinarily ended up at Ty-Mawr, home to one of his ancestors.
- 2019 - Cat slide dormers being reinstated on the south facing roof (image below shows them being removed in the early 1900s) and work in progress putting them back!
- June 2019 - Nigel delivers a lime course at Kelmarsh Hall, Northamptonshire – as he discovered last time he visited in 2009, it is home to more de Crespignys, descendants of Phillip who owned Ty-Mawr. There is a portrait of Phillip in Kelmarsh Hall, at about the age he was when he owned Ty-Mawr!