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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 May, 2003, 10:46 GMT 11:46 UK
Rhayader's Victorian shrine
Dolmynach House
The owner wanted the house preserved as an example of a period home
The future of a house whose contents date back to the Victorian era could be resolved almost a decade after its owner died.

Dolmynach House in Rhayader was bequeathed in trust to Powys County Council when its owner, Leila Williams, died in 1994.

Interested groups from the town and local people are meeting on Wednesday night to discuss what to do with the property.

It was stated in Miss Williams' will that she wanted the terraced house, which stands near Rhayader town centre, to be preserved as an example of a period home.

The building houses a treasure trove of artefacts dating back to the early 1890s when the house was built by Leila's grandfather, Rhys Edward Lewis.

The meeting has been set up so that we can get ideas together about what we can do with the house
Lloyd Lewis, working group's chairman

But the local authority has been at a loss as to what to do with the property in the nine years since Miss Williams died because it believes it could cost hundreds of thousands of pounds to turn it into a visitor attraction.

A working party has been set up which includes county council officers as well as Rhayader organisations such as the town council, Rhayader 2000 and Community Arts Rhayader and District (CARAD).

Visitor attraction

The working party's chairman is Lloyd Lewis, whose great-grandfather, Rhys Edward Lewis built the house.

"The meeting has been set up so that we can get ideas together about what we can do with the house," said Mr Lewis.

"The county council are the sole trustees at present but it is possible that the trusteeship could be enlarged to include other groups."

Powys County Council recently commissioned consultants to conduct an appraisal into what can be done with the property.

Possible options include selling the property and its contents or allowing the townspeople or a recognised museum to run the house as a museum or visitor attraction.

Dresser in Dolmynach House
The house contains a treasure trove from the Victorian era

Mr Lloyd believes it is possible for the building to be used as a visitor attraction.

"The house could be very helpful to the area's tourist trade because it would be somewhere for people to visit in the early evenings after they've been cycling or walking in the Elan Valley," he said.

Dolmynach House was built by Rhys Edward Lewis in the early 1890s and was used as a bakers and grocery shop providing goods in the period when dams along the Elan Valley were being built.

After Mr Lewis's death the house belonged to his daughter, Emily, who ran a furniture shop there with her husband, Llywelyn.

After they died the house passed to their daughter, Leila, who remained unmarried.

This modern-day Miss Haversham then kept the house as a shrine to her relatives.

And like the Dickens' story, the house contains stopped clocks and cupboards and wardrobes containing musty bed linen.

While the building slowly deteriorates, Wednesday's meeting will discuss ideas about how best to use the house and its contents for the benefit of the people of Rhayader, as Miss Williams intended.

Peter Cox, of CARAD, which is the legal museum authority in Rhayader, said even if it was decided to extend the trusteeship to other groups it would take at least another year of research to discuss the property's future.

"There may well be objections to developing the house as a visitor attraction because of disabled access and parking issues," he said.

A county council spokesman said that turning the house into a visitor attraction could cost hundreds of thousands of pounds.

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