Plas Brondanw (1550, new wing 1666 with C20 additions, listed Grade II*) was built by John ap Hywel who completed the work begun by his father. The house has never been bought or sold and is now owned by the Second Portmeirion Foundation. Clough's father John Clough Williams-Ellis was brought up here in the 1830s. John Clough's grandmother was Miss Bulgin, heiress of Miss Catherine Williams of Brondanw. It was a condition of her inheritance that she should marry her cousin the Rev. Thomas Ellis and that the name Williams should be joined with Ellis and borne by their descendants.
Clough inherited Plas Brondanw in 1908 and the old house was soon his chief absorbing interest outside his architectural profession: "a passion, and obsession if you like" he wrote in Architect Errant. "Yet it was really part of my profession, it was for Brondanw's sake that I worked and stinted, for its sake that I chiefly hoped to prosper. A cheque of ten pounds would come in and I would order yew hedging to that extent, a cheque for twenty and I would pave a further piece of terrace."
On 10 December 1951 Plas caught fire. "Fanned by a full gale," recalled Clough, "the fire raged through the house with frightening speed, feeding eagerly on the old timber floors, panelling and partitions, so that from miles away the fire-brigade saw the old Plas lit up in all its windows against the night sky as though for some great festivity." By mid morning nothing remained but the massive three-foot thick outer stone walls. Even Clough's spectacles and false teeth had perished as well his eighteenth-century family silver and all his files, papers and records of all sorts. Reconstruction took two years and was commemorated by a flaming urn above the chasm there.
Clough never ceased planting trees and landscaping his garden. "It is warming indeed to see the avenues that I then planted growing so flourishingly and the whole place maturing in ever increasing beauty," he wrote in 1971.
The gardens, five miles due north of Portmeirion at Llanfrothen are open to the public daily all year.
For more Information or to arrange a Guided Visit Please Contact
Gwynedd Roberts on