Welsh Architectural Genius and Portmeirion Founder, Sir Clough Williams-Ellis’ best kept secret now open to the Public
Broadheath House, Presteigne, Powys, 4th August 2014:
 
A commission borne of a chance encounter between the Coates sisters (then owners of Broadheath House) and Sir Bertram Clough Williams-Ellis on a train in 1925, found the house and garden subsequently remodeled in the Italianate style which became Williams-Ellis’ signature. 1925 was the same year Sir Clough Williams-Ellis acquired the neglected wilderness situated on the North West coast of Wales which was to become Portmeirion, the renowned Italianate village which has also spawned the uniquely decorated botanical pottery.
 
And now, for the first time since their creation almost 90 years ago, the gardens (Williams-Ellis’ only garden commission in Powys), restored to their former glory, will be open to public viewing under the National Gardens Scheme for charity. 
In mid-July 2014, Lieutenant Colonel Michael Lewis DL presided over the official opening of the Grade II listed gardens. The opening was also attended by Roger Williams MP, Kirsty Williams AM Member of the Welsh Assembly; Presteigne's Mayor, Colin Kirkby and his wife Ruth as well as representatives of the Welsh Historic Gardens Trust; the National Gardens Scheme, local historians, archaeologists and keen garden enthusiasts.
 
The house, originally belonging to the High Sheriff of Radnorshire - Broadheath House – which sits within the gardens, is still the impressive cream stuccoed Georgian building to which Williams-Ellis added a 2 storey extension along with a loggia which overlooks the exquisite, walled, sunken garden. In addition, he appended an unusual italianate, semi-circular annexe to the eastern side of the house. As when they were first landscaped, the formal gardens extend to an area of more than 2 acres and are divided into 5 distinct ‘rooms': the Italianate sunken garden with its lily ponds and rose beds, flanked to the east by an original timber barn covered in espalliered pear trees; the secret garden (or well garden) enclosed behind tall yew hedging and containing a magnificent magnolia tree among other fabulous specimen trees and plants; the yew tree walk way with summer house; the formal kitchen garden and an orchard with peach house. To the north of the house is a beautiful cob nut orchard bordered by rhodadendron and silver birch and an alamanchea walkway to a beautiful ornate gate leading to fields and views of Wapley Hill Fort beyond. 
 
As well as Portmeirion and his home estate of Plas Brondanw, Clough Williams-Ellis, a fashionable architect in the inter-war years, also designed buildings at Stowe in Buckinghamshire; groups of cottages at Cornwell, Oxfordshire; Tattenhall in Cheshire and Cushendun in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. He also wrote a book titled “England and the Octopus’ protesting at the urbanization of the countryside and loss of village cohesion. It’s outcry inspired a group of society women at the time to form ‘Ferguson’s Gang’. They took up Williams-Ellis’ call for action and spent over a decade of their lives preserving historically important properties and sites with the National Trust.
 
The gardens at Broadheath House, Presteigne can be viewed by making an appointment with the current owners.  The gardens will also be open to the public under the National Gardens Scheme for charity - commencing May 2015.

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