North West Wales

Hedd Wyn: Poet's Yr Ysgwrn home receives lottery grant

Yr Ysgwrn
Image caption Yr Ysgwrn has become a place of pilgrimage for visitors, says the Heritage Lottery Fund

The home of World War I poet Hedd Wyn has been awarded nearly £150,000 to help transform it into a museum.

Yr Ysgwrn, a Grade II* listed building near Trawsfynydd, Gwynedd, houses the bard's famous Eisteddfod chair posthumously awarded in 1917.

His home was secured for the nation by the Snowdonia National Park Authority (SNPA) in March.

The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant is the first round in a bidding process for £2.7m towards the project.

The national park now has up to two years to submit more detailed plans to the HLF and apply for the rest of the funds.

The HLF said Yr Ysgwrn had become a place of pilgrimage for visitors from Wales and around the world who want to see the poet's Black Chair, while experiencing the dramatic landscape which inspired so many of his poems.

As well as a museum, there are plans to turn the house into an interpretation centre where people can learn about the historic and cultural significance of the area.

Dr Manon Williams, chair of HLF, said: "Yr Ysgwrn represents so many key themes of our heritage from literature to traditional farming, and we support SNPA's plans to open up the site for a wider audience to explore its compelling story.

"Hedd Wyn is one of Wales' heroes and it is fitting that this project should be developed as part of the First World War commemorations.

"We were impressed with the plans for this rare insight into early 20th Century rural Wales with extensive learning opportunities for people to get involved in their heritage while conserving it for the future."

Dr Williams said the SNPA had been awarded a "first round pass" in recognition of the project's potential and the benefits it could bring to the area and Wales.

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Media captionJennifer Stewart, head of the HLF in Wales, says the hill farm is a 'time capsule'

The house had been looked after by Hedd Wyn's nephew, Gerald Williams.

He said he had promised his grandmother "a long time ago" that he would keep the door open as a way of "paying respect for the bravery and success of my uncle".

SNPA then bought the house with money from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Welsh government.

Mr Williams, 83, said: "Knowing that the park authority has been successful in this application to develop their ideas for yr Ysgwrn is great news.

"It will ensure that the place will be safeguarded for the future, and that information about the life and work of Hedd Wyn will be available to visitors for many years to come."

The long term project would see the barn and pig sty repaired and transformed into an exhibition room, education room and small visitor facility.

Image caption Hedd Wyn died at the Battle of Passchendaele six weeks before the eisteddfod

SNPA chief executive Aneurin Phillips said the authority was delighted.

First Minister Carwyn Jones also welcomed the news.

"Hedd Wyn has a special place in our country's history and securing his legacy is essential if we are to keep his story and experiences alive for future generations, especially as we approach the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War," he said.

Hedd Wyn died at the Battle of Passchendaele six weeks before the National Eisteddfod in 1917, at which he was awarded the Black Chair for his poem Yr Arwr (The Hero).

His life story was the subject of an Oscar-nominated Welsh language film in 1992.

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