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Writers drawn to Llanddulas mansion

Plas Dulas
Now derelict, Plas Dulas once had unique Mediterranean gardens

Historic buildings champion Mark Baker looks at the colourful past of Plas Dulas, a 19th century mansion and walled garden in Llanddulas.

The land where Plas Dulas now stands was part of the Garthewin estate of Llanfairtalhaearn. It formed part of a large farm known as Llyndir.

The walled garden survives from this time, along with the barn, stables and coach house.

In the early 19th century the Wynnes sold the land with Plas Dulas on it to Elizabeth Easthope, the spinster daughter of Sir John Easthope.

Elizabeth was very unusual in that she took her father to court over her elder brother's will, which named her as chief beneficiary. She was given a large amount of cash in the settlement, so she bought the property in Llanddulas.

Sir John was a politician and most famously owned The Morning Chronicle, one of the biggest Victorian newspapers. He employed Charles Dickens as a journalist and we think Dickens visited Plas Dulas, though we haven't been able to find complete records.

Elizabeth bought her sister and brother-in-law another property across the road, known as Bodhyfryd.

They were famous collectors of art, and many of their paintings can be seen in the National Museum of Boston and the Victoria and Albert in London.

Evelyn Waugh visited Plas Dulas many times and wrote his book Decline and Fall there
Mark Baker

The house was passed down through the generations. One of the most famous owners was the final member of the family to live there, Professor Richard MacGillivray Dawkins.

He was a famous archaeologist and director of the British School in Athens. He was great friends with author Evelyn Waugh who visited Plas Dulas many times and wrote his book Decline and Fall there.

Waugh was teaching at Arnold House, a private school in Llanddulas, at the time.

Dawkins was also great friends with Noel Coward who visited Plas Dulas and Hafodunos in Llangernyw.

Dawkins had a great interest in importing Greek plants and laid out Mediterranean gardens at Plas Dulas which were unique to north Wales. There's still evidence that his planting and garden design remain in the grounds.

Plas Dulas
Professor Dawkins and his family outside Plas Dulas in the 1930s

After he died in the 1950s, the house was bought by an Hungarian lady, Miss Fekete. She was a Christian missionary and used Plas Dulas as a Christian retreat.

When she died in the late 1990s the house had fallen into a poor state because she was quite elderly and couldn't look after it properly.

She died intestate, so there was a big hunt to find her heirs. In the meantime, a young couple from Rhyl moved in and tried to exert squatters' rights. They planned to restore the house as a community centre.

It would have been ideal for the community to use. It's really what's needed in Llanddulas; a central attraction for people to meet, especially since the A55 split the village in two.

They began to fix the roof and the windows, but were evicted when some distant relatives were found. The house was sold and it's now in the hands of a developer.

Campaign to save historic mansion
27 Aug 09 |  Wales


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