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Fern Hill, Llangain

Description: Fern Hill

Grade: II
Date Listed: 13 February 1974
Cadw Building ID: 9718

OS Grid Coordinates: 237303, 215695
Latitude/Longitude: 51.8157, -4.3606

Location: Llangain, Carmarthen, Carmarthenshire SA33 5AY

Locality: Llangain
County: Carmarthenshire
Country: Wales
Postcode: SA33 5AY

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Listing Text

Situated to the W of Fernhill Brook, on the N side of a minor road to Llangynog village which is some 3 km to the W.

Small gentry house of the early C19, built for the Davies family, owners from 1760 until 1929. Of literary significance because of Dylan Thomas' poetic evocation of childhood visits to his Uncle Jack and Aunty Ann, tenants at Fern Hill until 1925. Thomas was only 11 when they lost the tenancy and moved to Blaencwm, nearby, but the visits kept for him the aura of a golden age, captured in the poem 'Fern Hill'. In poor condition when sold in 1972, it lost the original windows and doors in 1983-4 and the slate hanging on the rear has also been removed, but the interior remains substantially of the early C19. The story of the 'hangman's cell' is apparently erroneous, though long current as Dylan Thomas apparently knew of it. Fern Hill was never occupied by the official hangman, but possibly by his deputy who was never called on for executions, and would not have used a room at his house for any official purpose. In 1834 it was advertised to let with 'a garden ornamented with a cascade'.

From porch small hall with reeded ceiling border, large plaster rose, 6-panel doors each side and broad elliptical arch with fanlight to stair hall. Stair hall has similar reeded ceiling border, staircase has stick balusters, moulded tread ends and handrail ending in a scroll. Two flights. Front right drawing room has C19 fireplace originally from Pibwrwen, Llandyfaelog (the previous fireplace was like that in the left former dining room, reeded with paterae), and cupboard with panelled doors. Left room has depressed-arched recess with panelled soffit each side of fireplace, picture rail at impost level and right side wall has sideboard recess with flat head and curved angles. Ornate cornice with staff mould entwined with acanthus leaf under small leaf moulding. Cellar has stone flagged floors and ceiling beams and retains 2 original windows, one a 12-paned sash, the other a gothick sash. First floor has 2 doors on landing, one 4-panel, one 6-panel.
In NE wing, former kitchen has iron hooks in ceiling, panelled cupboards in wall, and brick fireplace though stone fireplace and winding stair were mentioned in 1974. First floor has small rooms and corridor to door into NW range.

House, white-painted stucco with close-eaved hipped slate roofs. Two-storey, U-plan house about a narrow rear courtyard, originally L-plan the main front facing the garden to the SE with a former kitchen wing facing NE. The third wing on the NW side of the court was probably a lofted outbuilding, disused and without floor in 1972, converted to garage and kitchen with accommodation over. Garden front has stucco lined as ashlar and 3-window range of plastic windows, replacing tripartite sashes to outer bays and single sash to first floor centre. Centre plastic door replaces 6-panel door with 4 glazed panels. Porch with 2 round columns, 2 half-octagonal responds and flat roof with small modillions to cornice.
Roughcast end wall chimneys. Former sash windows with Gothic tracery, now imitated in plastic. The rear has centre stair tower with hipped roof in angle to NE range. This was slate-hung in 1967 drawing as was windowless rear wall to right. This is above an added later C19 rubble stone and brick structure called the hangman's cell. Flat roof, parapet, centre ledged door and vent loop each side, and small vent loop in row above. Stair tower has first floor window over door now within lean-to on back of NE wing, this is rubble stone and in 1967 had a Gothic window like those on the end walls, but has long plastic window and glazed roof. The main wall above also had a Gothic sash to the left, replaced in plastic, and was slate-hung in 1967. Red brick chimney on left roof hip. Garden side of NE wing has imitation Gothic sash to left and blank opening to right. C20 inserted small window between and ground floor long window below. Door to right.
The NW range, much modernised, has hipped gable to S and plain gable to N, only slightly overlapping end of NE range. Three first floor windows to courtyard, wooden casement pairs before 1983, now plastic, over ground floor door and 2 windows. Left end wall has late C20 garage door. Right end has new door and large window above in former loft door. On rear wall is colourwashed brick lean-to and then, at right angles, former cow-house in colourwashed brick with asbestos sheet roof, two large square 15-pane windows flanking door.

Reason for Listing
Included despite the altered windows as an early C19 minor gentry house with surviving interiors and for the association with Dylan Thomas, one of whose most famous poems is entitled Fern Hill.

Welsh Arts Council: Welsh Dylan (exhibition catalogue);
Min Lewis, Laugharne and Dylan Thomas, 1967, p 91 (drawing of house before alteration by Stanley Lewis);
Hilary Laurie, Dylan Thomas's Wales, p 120 (old photograph).
Carmarthen Journal 21/2/1834;
Information from Major and Mrs Davies, owners.

This text is a legacy record and has not been updated since the building was originally listed. Details of the building may have changed in the intervening time. You should not rely on this listing as an accurate description of the building.

Situated to the W of Fernhill Brook, on the N side of a minor road to Llangynog village which is some 3 km to the W.

Source: Cadw

Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.