Plas Brondanw was the home of Clough Williams Ellis and his wife, Amabel from their marriage in 1915 until their deaths in 1978 and 1984, respectively.
John ap Hywel finished building Plas Brondanw around 1550, and a later member of the family William Williams, made improvements in 1660. In 1807 The Reverend John Ellis married Jane Bulgin, heiress of the Williams estate and from then the two names were joined to make Williams-Ellis.
Clough Williams-Ellis was brought up on other family property. In 1908 he was offered the Brondanw Estate by his father: "Nothing, just then, could possibly have been more ecstatically welcomed by me... The guardianship of a rambling old Carolean Plas set in a wildly romantic little estate among the Welsh mountains, that had been held by my family for over four centuries, was well calculated to inflame me."
Clough's improvements began in 1908 when he took responsibility for Brondanw: "One begins staidly with a new kitchen range and a bathroom, and yet, in a little while, one finds oneself building terraces, orangeries, triumphal arches and planning further works of almost equal urgency."
In the 1930s, the tall house, already tied back to the hill by long railway irons, was tilting even more dangerously and Clough designed a buttress four stories high to hold it back. This reaches up to the roof, straddles the terrace along the base of the house and provides three extra rooms inside. Visitors to the gardens can walk through its arch.
In 1951, a disastrous fire swept through the Plas. The exterior, thanks to the massively thick walls, was left intact and two years later reconstruction was finished and it could be lived in again. Clough erected a monument known as the Flaming Urn to commemorate the fire and the House’s restoration. This can be seen in the Woodland Garden and is framed from the front door of Plas Brondanw by an avenue of trees. Several Country Life articles, reproduced in our Library with the kind permission of Country Life, give wonderful details of Plas Brondanw before and after the fire.
With the kind permission of Country Life, we are able to offer the following articles they have published about Sir Clough Williams-Ellis and his buildings.