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Nannau Old Garden (Hen Ardd), Dolgellau

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Map ReferenceSH71NW
Grid ReferenceSH7429019930
Unitary (Local) AuthorityGwynedd
Old CountyMerioneth
CommunityBrithdir and Llanfachreth
Period18th Century

At Nannau house (nprn 28585), north-west of Dolgellau, there were two kitchen gardens. Hen Ardd (Old Garden) of the 1790s, contemporary with the present house, is located almost 1 km to the south, between the road from Dolgellau to Llanfachreth and the old deer park wall, while the ‘new’ kitchen garden lies much nearer to the house, apparently having superseded the older one shortly before 1838 (700272).

The old garden is rectangular on plan, long axis north by south, comprising a regular four-sided enclosure on the south with a larger, irregular shape conjoining on the north. The walls are of mortared stone, up to 3.5 m high, with wide entrances on the east and west and a narrower one on the south; there is also a doorway by the east end of the cottage. There is a date of 1828 on a stone arch on the east which used to mark the entrance to the garden from one of the former drives which once passed through the garden. Holes through the garden walls allowed branches to be trained and grow on either side, the fruit on each side ripening at different times and so extending the season.
In 1818, the garden had been sub-divided by paths into nine sections though no traces survive. A stream runs the whole length of the garden. There is access to this on the north where a small water garden has recently been made, and near the south entrance where the water is almost two metres below ground level, reached by steps.

After the garden moved, Hen Ardd cottage (within the garden) became the keeper's cottage, and the now-ruined kennels to the north and buildings to the south (perhaps pigsties and pigs' kitchen, possibly a pheasantry), date from this time. The kennels contain a date plaque of 1835. There was once a sundial on the site of a fallen oak (The Howel Sele Oak). There are no signs of any glass buildings on early maps of the garden.

The survival of a few old fruit trees in the old garden, and the 1889 Ordnance Survey map showing part of the attached enclosure to the north of it as an orchard, suggests the old garden remained partially in use for fruit production. A plaque on the wall by the east gate shows a date of 1794, which confirms this time period. The occupied cottage (named ‘Hen Ardd’) also seems contemporary with the garden and main house.

Cadw 1998: Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in Wales: Conwy, Gwynedd & the Isle of Anglesey, 224-9 (ref: PGW(Gd)34(GWY)).
Ordnance Survey second edition 25-inch map: sheet Merionethshire XXXIII.11 (1901)

RCAHMW, 20 June 2022