Wales' First Minister Opens yr Ysgwrn
6 September 2017
Yr Ysgwrn was officially opened today by the Rt Hon Carwyn Jones AM, First Minister of Wales, in the company of Gerald Williams, the nephew of famous poet and First World War soldier, Hedd Wyn
Yr Ysgwrn was the home of Hedd Wyn. He won the Chair at the Eisteddfod in Birkenhead in 1917 for his poem “Yr Arwr” (The Hero), but was killed at the Battle of Passchendaele six weeks before he was posthumously awarded the Chair. Famously, the Chair was draped in black cloth and became known as Y Gadair Ddu or The Black Chair. This has come to symbolise a generation of Welsh youth who lost their lives in the First World War.
Before Snowdonia National Park Authority purchased Yr Ysgwrn, concerns had been raised about its long-term future, but in 2012, with generous contributions from the Welsh Government and the National Heritage Memorial Fund, the Authority was able to complete the purchase for the nation. The Authority received £ 3.1m from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and £300,000 from the Welsh Government to
- repair and develop the historic buildings of Yr Ysgwrn
- repair the furniture in Yr Ysgwrn
- interpret the site based on the life and work of Hedd Wyn, the First World War, the social history of rural Wales at the turn of the twentieth century, the agricultural heritage and Welsh language culture,
- to provide world class education resources
As well as improving access to the site, including paths surrounding the agricultural holding.
During the last five years, as part of the development, work has been undertaken on conserving and improving the house including repairing the chairs and kitchen and bedroom chattels, restoring the house using traditional methods, and opening the first floor for visitors. Beudy Llwyd was developed as a reception building to the site including a reception, café, community room, exhibition gallery and outdoor community space. Here there is an opportunity to learn the history of Hedd Wyn, his family and his community and at Beudy Ty, the story of the losses of the First World War is presented through film and exhibition.
First Minister, Carwyn Jones said,
"It is an honour and a privilege to be here to officially open Yr Ysgwrn, a place which holds such significance in the history of Wales. The peace and tranquility of the Snowdonia National Park here is in marked contrast to the horrors that Hedd Wyn would have faced at Passchendaele over a hundred years ago. Over 3,000 Welsh soldiers died in that battle and Yr Ysgwrn not only remembers Hedd Wyn but it is also a poignant reminder of all the sacrifices which were made during the First World War.
“Yr Ysgwrn has been beautifully renovated and I’m pleased the Welsh Government was able to support this work and that this precious piece of Welsh history is now preserved for future generations.”
On behalf of the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), Baroness Kay Andrews, Trustee and Chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund Wales committee, said:
“It is a privilege to have been able to play a role in bringing the life and work of Hedd Wyn at Yr Ysgwrn – the place which he knew and loved so well - to a new generation, and to do so in the centenary year of his death and of his greatest poetic achievement.
“His death robbed Wales of one of its greatest modern poets, but the Great War robbed all Wales of untold talent. Hedd Wyn stands for all those men who did not return, for the promise that was never fulfilled, and for the family of the nation which honours them.
“By investing more than £6 million of National Lottery money in our communities to explore and tell these hidden stories of the Great War, we are proud to have been able to bring this most poignant and precious heritage to the light of day.”
On behalf of the National Park Authority, Chairman Owain Wyn said,
"I would like to thank the Welsh Government, the Heritage Lottery Fund, and Mr Gerald Williams, for their support, their vision and their enthusiasm over the past five years to ensure that we are officially opening this site today.
Over the years, our staff have worked closely with Mr Williams, and it is a privilege for us to be responsible for caring and protecting this important national property. Our intention is to keep the door of Yr Ysgwrn open and to share Yr Ysgwrn’s permanent messages about culture, society and war and at the same time, increasing the public’s understanding and enjoyment of the special qualities of Snowdonia National Park. "
Outside the main building, walking trails have been developed around the farmland, the piggery has turned into a bat house, a new shed has been built for the agricultural tenant, a biomass boiler has been built, the pig pens have been reintroduced and a new pen from traditional material has been built to be used by the farm tenant. A car park has been built opposite Beudy Llwyd (spaces for 2 buses and 22 cars) and in conjunction with Gwynedd Council, the road up to Yr Ysgwrn has been renewed to provide 2 passing spaces along the lane.
Notes to Editors
- Around 3,000 people used to visit Yr Ysgwrn every year. So far, 4,000 have visited this year.
- The cost of the development work was £ 3.7m, and the National Park Authority will fund the maintenance and upkeep of the centre from now on.
- Yr Ysgwrn has been on the list of endangered buildings for some time and houses one of Snowdonia’s 60 wonders, Hedd Wyn’s Cadair Ddu (black chair).
- In 1991, a feature film was made about Hedd Wyn, which received an Oscar nomination.
- The farmhouse is a Grade II * listed building near Trawsfynydd, and exists since 1830, although the name of Yr Ysgwrn exists on tithe maps since 1519.
Snowdonia National Park Authority (SNPA)
The Snowdonia National Park, located on the western coast of Britain covering 823 square miles of diverse land, is a living and working area, and is home to 26,000 people. As well as being the largest National Park in Wales, Snowdonia has the highest mountain and the largest natural lake in Wales, along with a wealth of beautiful villages such as Betws y Coed and Beddgelert. It was established in 1951, and is the third largest park of the 15 National Parks in the UK. It stretches from Cardigan Bay's High Water Mark in the west, to the Conwy Valley in the east and from the River Dyfi and its estuary in the south to the coast of Conwy Bay as far as Conwy in the north.
Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF)
Thanks to National Lottery players, we invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about - from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife. www.hlf.org.uk. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and use #NationalLottery and #HLFsupported
HLF awarded a total grant of £3,081,100 (82% of total project costs) to Snowdonia National Park for the renovation of Yr Ysgwrn.
About the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF)
The National Heritage Memorial Fund was set up in 1980 to save the most outstanding parts of our national heritage, in memory of those who have given their lives for the UK. It will receive £5 million of Government grant in aid in 2017/18. www.nhmf.org.uk.
Cymru’n Cofio Wales Remembers 1914-1918
Cymru’n Cofio Wales Remembers 1914-1918 is the official programme to mark the centenary of the First World War in Wales. The Programme is coordinated by the Welsh Government, working in partnership with organisations from across Wales and beyond. Its website is a focal point for information on the latest news, projects, events and signposting of information for the commemoration from 2014 to 2018.