In March 2017 the contents of Glyn Cywarch, Talsarnau, were sold at Bonhams auction house in London – the material relics of four centuries, dispersed within hours to the highest bidders. Glyn Cywarch was a very old house, built in 1616, which passed by marriage from the Wynn family to the Owens of Brogyntyn and thence descended to the family of Ormsby Gore, Barons Harlech.
Recent cataloguing of the Longueville solicitors’ collection has revealed an inventory and valuation of the contents of Glyn, dated August 1876, property of the late John Ralph Ormsby-Gore, first Baron Harlech. The inventory of 124 pages is gloriously detailed. It itemises all the household furniture, carpets, window draperies, glass, china, plated articles, linen, blankets, quilts, wines, spirits, garden tools, plants, pheasant-keeping equipment and other effects. It presents a snapshot of each room, frozen in time at 1876. Some descriptions can be matched with the lots which were auctioned in the Bonhams sale of 2017.
The oval top old oak table with fall down leaves on a strong frame and spiral supports in the drawing room at Glyn must surely be Lot 3 on the auction website. The inlaid bureau filled with drawers and divisions, sloping fall down front, lined with green baize is a good match for Lot 89. Could one of the 3 sundry scent bottles be equivalent to Lot 492?
Perhaps the décor at Glyn seemed antiquated to William Richard Ormsby-Gore, second Baron Harlech. When he succeeded to the title he undertook a comprehensive scheme of refurbishment. An account book in the Brogyntyn estate records lists all the new items that he bought from Richard Jones, general draper and family grocer, New Shop, Dolgellau, 1877-1878. It includes table cloths, toilet covers, towels, bedding, muslin, chintz, pink glazed lining, tartan, Brussels carpet, crimson tapestry, a butter scale and a set of fire irons.
Do any of those items still grace the ancient house of Glyn? Or were they, too, sold to beautify some other home, far from Wales?
Longueville Collection Vol. 389
Brogyntyn Estate and Family Records EH3/3
Hilary Peters, Assistant Archivist
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