Struggling to Survive - Craig Y Nos Castle (Weddings, Accommodation and Ghost Tours) in Wales

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Struggling to Survive

Castle Information & History > Adelina Patti

Struggling to Survive - 1976 to 2000

By 1976 most of the grounds surrounding the castle had been transferred in to the care of  the Brecon Beacons National Authority, creating what is now known as the Craig-y-Nos Country Park.

The castle continued to be used as a hospital for the next 10 years,  while the fabric of the castle (including the theatre) fell further in to a serious state of disrepair.

In the early 1980's a modern community hospital was built on the site of the old Ynyscedwyn iron works at Ystradgynlais, signaling the closure of the hospital at Craig-y-Nos in 1986.  Most of the hospital equipment and domestic artifacts were removed at this time.

The remaining artifacts were sold on site by way of a public auction, the responsibility of the Castle remaining in the hands of the Welsh Office.

Little public money was spent on remedial action to arrest the rapid deterioration of the castle and its theatre.

The castle was offered for sale and several professional surveys were carried out by various interested parties to determine the potential of te castle and assess the costs involved.   All the interested parties proposed commercial ventures, ranging from outdoor activities to high grade holiday accommodation however, the financial and practical aspects, together with the restrictive conditions imposed by the authorities on any rescue operation discouraged any serious offers of purchase; other than for demolition, reclamation of material and the site value. Offers by serious buyers foundered and Craig-y-Nos remained unoccupied for several years, becoming a victim to casual intruders, vandalism and exposure to the weather.

The survival of the castle was now in serious doubt.

Growing concern for Craig-y-Nos by the communities in the upper Tawe valley resulted in the Welsh Office being bombarded with a series of notices expressing serious public concern.  This was echoed by those within the world of music and drama, where efforts were made to persuade the government and other financial sources to intercede, but all to no avail.

During 1988 several coordinated public meetings took place within the community in an effort to preserve a part of their heritage. A voluntary grouped formed called "Friends of Adelina Patti Hospital" who held several public events to show their concern at the lack of official interest in the dereliction of the castle and the inevitable fate of the unique and historical site.  A protest was held on the main road in front of the castle gates, attended by Richard Livesey, the local M.P., and his colleague David Coleman, the M.P. for the neighboring constituency of Neath.  The protest was well supported by several local councils , the National Union of Mine Workers and residents of the local community, all of whom felt a strong connection with the history of the castle.  The group received a letter from the Prince of Wales, wishing them good luck in their endeavors.

Fortunately their efforts did not go unnoticed and Peter Walker, then Secretary of State for Wales, reviewed the situation in the protestors favour and withdrew the stringent restrictions attached to the sale in respect of reconstruction and future use.  The Welsh office upheld  the allocation of Grade 1 listing to the Patti Theatre, to preserve its historical value,  but relaxed the restrictions on the remainder of the castle to grade 2 status.

On the 12th of May 1988 Craig-y-Nos castle and about seven acres of the attached grounds were sold to Mr. David Richard Cecil Jones and the Craig-y-Nos Castle Company Limited.

A determined effort was made to seal the roof of the theatre and extensive repairs to much of the roof of the main building took place.  A great deal of lead was renewed and many of the old x-ray plates that had been used to replace broken slates were replaced with conventional slate tiles, in an attempt to stem the invading rain water and prevent further damage to the interior.  

Much of the timber work, particularly in the theatre, received treatment for dry rot.  As a grade 1 listed area, any rescue and renovation work in the theatre was and still is strictly monitored by C.A.D.W. and the planning authorities.

Structural and interior renovation of the ground floor of the main building began with the conversion of the music or billiard room and the adjoining banqueting hall, once a hospital ward, into a large restaurant and function room.  The task took several months to complete taking care to preserve the original fabric of the building. The original library and drawing rooms, formerly converted into hospital wards, were professionally restored and redecorated, creating the present "Patti" and Nicolini" bars.

Mr. Jones and partners had managed to stem the tide of deterioration but, the restoration of the magnificent buildings, with its remarkable story, required Herculean efforts that entailed financial and practical considerations of depths yet to be plumbed.  Invasion by the weather over a long period of time and its associated effect upon the internal structure made long term planning a nightmare.  Strict planning regulations and an open ended time scale added to the problems.

After extensive ground floor renovations the castle was opened to the public as a venue for weddings, conferences and similar events.  Guided tours of the theatre, adjoining rooms and surrounding grounds were provided by local historian Mr. Len Ley.

Separating the building operations from the visiting public made remedial work on the 2nd and 3rd floors impossible during the early years of the castle renaissance.

In these early years the touring public came  by car and coach to visit Craig-y-Nos, finding the site and its story interesting and unusual. Many wondered why the domestic life and international connections of a star such as Adelina Patti had remained hidden and ill recorded until now.  Although Patti's professional life is well documented, the diva remained childless throughout her three marriages and any domestic papers that may exist, are not publicly available and much of this story is gleaned from published materials and local sources.

Having saved Craig-y-Nos from almost certain ruin, Mr. Jones and his partners continued to repair the fabric of the building and repel the invading weather, maintaining the theatre and ground floors for public use and provided some accommodation.

In February 1995 the estate was sold to Dr. John Trevor Jones and Mrs. Penelope Jones.

The new owners continued with extensive repairs and refurbishment  over the 5 years that followed. The theatre roof was re-slated and much of the buildings old and unreliable central heating system was repaired.  Many of the windows were re-glazed and semi derelict parts of the castle saved from complete decay.

Craig-y-Nos continued to be used for musical events and related activities.  Weddings and conferences were catered for and national antique fairs were held on a regular basis to raise revenue.

After sustained efforts to preserve the castle and secure its future, Dr. and Mrs. Jones decided to sell the estate and place its future in the hands of others.

Continue to the Restoration and Rebirth 2000 - Present

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