Page last updated at 09:08 GMT, Sunday, 9 November 2008

Royal history of Charles' estate

The cover of Mark Baker's book
Mark Baker turned house detective to complete the book

Prince Charles may have only recently bought his first home in Wales, but its royal connections go back centuries, an historian has discovered.

The original owner of Llwynywermod in Carmarthenshire was related to the second wife of Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn.

Mark Baker, of Prestatyn, Denbighshire, unravelled the history of what was once one of Wales' finest homes.

A Royal Home in Wales - Llwynywermod is being published to coincide with Prince Charles's 60th birthday on Thursday.

Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall stayed at their new Welsh farmhouse home near Llandovery for the first time this summer, and threw open the doors to more than 100 guests.

The estate of about 200 acres was bought by the Duchy of Cornwall in 2006. Mr Baker, 23, a postgraduate student in Cardiff who has already played house detective at a number of Wales' historic houses, has spent two years trawling through dusty archives and old records to unearth the secrets of the royal's Welsh residence.

LLWYNYWERMOD FACTS
Ruins of the original mansion on the estate
Its original owner William Williams was related to Anne Boleyn
Estate is linked to the Physicians of Myddfai, 13th Century healers, who lived in the area
Sir Erasmus Griffies-Williams, one of the most famous owners, was chancellor of St David's Cathedral
Sir Erasmus's eldest daughter was shunned by the family for her interest in spiritualism at the turn of the 20th Century
The wormwood plant, which grew on the estate, is believed to have been used during medieval times as an antidote to poison

The original mansion is now largely in ruins but Mr Baker unravelled the lives of some of those who have lived there down the centuries.

"I have uncovered that [the house] goes back to about the 13th or 14th Centuries when it was owned by relatives of Anne Boleyn, Henry V111's second wife.

"And the Griffies-Williams family in the early 18th century were quite close to the royals and received a baronetcy.

He discovered was that Sir Erasmus Griffies-Williams, one of the most famous owners of the estate - which was then called Llwynywormwood - was a chancellor of St David's Cathedral.

"He was about to become bishop but died very suddenly. He was also working on a Welsh-English dictionary when he died suddenly in 1870."

The Carmarthenshire estate flourished during this time, and the main house doubled in size.

But Mr Baker said everything began to fall apart when Sir George Griffies-Williams' wife Anna Margareta died after an attack of influenza.

"It seems that she was bled too much and she protested, but died nevertheless. I think he was racked with guilt."

Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall
The royal couple first stayed at their Welsh base this summer

"After that the house fell into decline and very typically of Welsh estates, it got broken up."

Mr Baker said the house's renaissance only began about 10 years ago when the previous owner John and Patricia Hegarty bought the farm and land for 352,000.

They began a restoration project before selling the estate to the Duchy of Cornwall in 2006.

Mr Baker said that now only the medieval kitchen and about 60% of the walls of the original mansion of the estate remained, but he hoped it could be restored under royal ownership.

"It really is one of the lost houses of Wales," he said.

The official launch of Mr Baker's book is at the National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth on 22 November.

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SEE ALSO
Royal couple welcome neighbours
25 Jun 08 |  South West Wales
Royal couple move into Welsh home
23 Jun 08 |  South West Wales
Prince cleared to extend retreat
10 Jul 07 |  South West Wales
Objection to prince's house plan
07 Jun 07 |  South West Wales
Prince's plan for his Welsh home
23 Apr 07 |  South West Wales
Charles meets his new neighbours
16 Mar 07 |  South West Wales
Warm welcome awaits royal couple
22 Nov 06 |  South West Wales
In pictures: Charles' Welsh home
22 Nov 06 |  In Pictures

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