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Gwylfa Hiraethog Shooting Lodge

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Awdurdod Unedol (Lleol)Conwy
Hen SirDenbighshire
Gwylfa Hiraethog (the watch tower of Hirathog) was the shooting lodge of the first Viscount Devonport, Hudson Ewbanke Kearley, whose main estate was Wittington House in Buckinghamshire. The lodge stands in a remote moorland location 496m above sea level and in the late nineteenth century was claimed to be the highest inhabited house in Wales, with some of the finest views of the British Isles.

The history of the lodge goes back to the early 1890's, with the first phase a wooden chalet, imported in prefabricated sections from Norway. Three Norwegians are reported to have come over to erect it, and it is said to have been screwed into the rock. In 1908, at the same time that Viscount Devonport's main home in Buckinghamshire was remodelled and enlarged, the wooden chalet was incorporated into a new stone built lodge, from the balcony of which, Lloyd George famously addressed a large crowd. This was subsequently enlarged in 1913 by the architect Sir Edwin Cooper and photographs show an imposing Jacobean style mansion, comprising a three gabled front with cross wings, long mullioned windows and a stone flagged roof. It was built from local stone with Gwespyr stone dressings, and was cement faced.

Viscount Devonport put the Gwylfa Hiraethog estate up for sale 1925. The sales catalogue describes the lodge as a shooting box and residence comprising 11 principal bedrooms, two secondary bedrooms together with servant's quarters. Following the sale of the estate, the lodge became the home of the estate gamekeepers and was finally abandoned in the 1960s, since when its condition has rapidly deteriorated. It currently survives in a very ruinous state with the front elevation partially intact to first floor height, the rest at ground floor level, with the internal portions of the house masked by substantial demolition rubble. The inscribed Devonport coat of arms from above the front doorway has been relocated to Cwm-y-rhinwedd farm (NPRN 280058).

Louise Barker, RCAHMW, August 2009.

Hubbard, E 1986 The Buildings of Wales ? Clwyd.
Lloyd, T 1989 The Lost Houses of Wales: a survey of county houses demolished since c.1900
National Library of Wales: Sales Catalogue - Gwylfa Hiraethog Estate (Denbighshire No: 20)