The lands of the Gorddinog Estate are, these days, a short drive from the A55 between Abergwyngregyn and Llanfairfechan near the border of Gwynedd and Conwy. It has served many purposes over the years, from a medieval house and standing farmhouse to today’s collection of scattered houses.
The medieval hall was once the home of Llywelyn Fawr, when he lived in Abergwyngregyn. He was the sole ruler of Gwynedd in 1200, and these grounds served as his seat of power.
Llywelyn enjoyed an on-and-off relationship with King John, even marrying his daughter Joan. But he will later make a deal with the barons that will force John to sign the Magna Carta in 1215.
Sadly, all remnants of this period were erased by the Platt family when John Platt, an MP for Oldham, began working on the estate. During this time he leased and developed Madryn Farm, while allowing Glan y Mor to remain and removing Cambwell Farm from the estate.
Platt made his money from making cotton machines. Politically he was a radical, supporting the Anti Corn League, a movement seeking to abolish the unpopular Corn Laws, and he would become known as the “Father of the Oldham Corporation”.
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He gave Gorddinog Manor to his eldest son, Colonel Henry Platt, as a wedding present in 1868, while his younger brother Samuel Platt remained at the family manor at Oldham.
It is said that Henry’s marriage to Christ Church was a grand affair. The coach was pulled to the church by Platt’s employees and then taken to Gorddinog.
The quarrymen unleashed a massive barrage of rock cannons, which echoed down the valley. The holey rock can still be seen in the field above Bryn Goleu.
After his father’s death, Henry might have moved to his estate of Bryn y Neuadd. However, given the size of his mansion in Gorddinog, he saw no reason to move.
Instead, Henry sold the Bryn y Neuadd mansion and never involved himself in his father’s business. Instead, he became a banker and lived off the income he earned from properties on the land.
Henry took an active part in the public and social life of the county. He served as a county magistrate from the age of 25 and became Bangor’s first mayor. He was a staunch Tory and unsuccessfully contested the boroughs of Caernarfon in 1900, when his opponent was David Lloyd George.
Henry remained at his mansion until his death in 1914, when it passed to his son, Major Eric Platt. Like his father, Eric remained at the property until his death in 1946. The estate remained active until the death of his widow in 1956 when death duties forced the land to be sold.
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Many locals worked on the estate and extravagant parties were said to have been held there. Inside the house there was a ballroom with a swimming pool below the stage, and a Mr. H. L. North was employed to design and build an Italian-style loggia – an exterior hallway or gallery with a roof fully covered and an exterior wall that is open to the elements.
The house was purchased and remains the property of the Ferranti family. Some changes have been made, such as the demolition of the west wing.
Leaving the A55 and now turning towards Llanfairfechan you will pass the original entrance to the estate. Further afield, what remains of Bryn y Neuadd is an NHS-run mental health facility.