This photo of Hendre Uchaf was taken in 1953 by G. B. Mason, but the garden remained largely unchanged in the 70s and 80s

Hendre Uchaf, Abergele, by Nicola Roberts, Public Engagement Officer

My favourite images relate to a site which holds great personal interest for me- it was the house where I lived as a teenager growing up in north Wales in the 1970s and 80s: Hendre Uchaf, Abergele.

Within the first few weeks of joining the Commission in March 2007, I did the first thing which many of us do when presented with the hundreds of thousands of wonderful images readily available to download from Coflein – I searched for my family home, or a site that holds personal interest.

This photo of Hendre Uchaf was taken in 1953 by G. B. Mason, but the garden remained largely unchanged in the 70s and 80s
This photo of Hendre Uchaf was taken in 1953 by G. B. Mason, but the garden remained largely unchanged in the 70s and 80s

To my joy, I immediately discovered a series of photographs taken by the superb and prolific architectural photographer, G B Mason, who worked for the National Buildings Record (which later provided the core of our own National Monuments Record). From the Second World War through to the 1960s, he took some 11,000 photos of sites throughout Britain often capturing their essence before demolition or renovation. Both these images were taken in 1953 long before I lived there (!) and before the house had been renovated. but I remember the garden remained unchanged with the rambling roses reaching to the bedroom window and the large oak front door with the datestone 1591 clearly set above. I look at that doorway now, with Mr Black, the former owner’s sheepdog sleeping lazily in the afternoon sun and muse how many times I must have run in and out at the time, with little care of the future or its historic interest- it was just a home to me and my brothers and sisters who are now spread across the world!

The main doorway of the house with the 1591 date stone above. The house was finished towards the end of Queen Elizabeth’s reign, three years after the failure of the Spanish Armada
The main doorway of the house with the 1591 date stone above. The house was finished towards the end of Queen Elizabeth’s reign, three years after the failure of the Spanish Armada

Researching the history of Hendre Uchaf, I found that Peter Smith had made a plan of the house and it was included in his encyclopaedic Houses of the Welsh Countryside (fig. 95c). This showed that the houses belonged to a class of early storeyed houses with a fireplace on the long wall. It was included on four distribution maps (Maps 28, 37, 28 and 48a) which gave a potted architectural history of the house. I now know that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of historic houses in Wales but for me Hendre Uchaf will always be special.

Site details: https://coflein.gov.uk/en/site/27312/details/hendre-uchaf

By Nicola Roberts

06/30/2020

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