North West Wales

Poet Hedd Wyn's home safe after Snowdonia authority takes ownership

Yr Ysgwrn
Image caption The house is currently being re-roofed after its deteriorating condition caused concern

The home of poet Hedd Wyn has been secured for the nation by the Snowdonia National Park Authority.

Yr Ysgwrn is a Grade II* listed building near Trawsfynydd and houses the bard's famous 'Black Chair' posthumously awarded to him in 1917 for his poem Yr Arwr (The Hero).

Hedd Wyn had entered his poem to the National Eisteddfod 1917 but did not live to know he had won.

The house is open to the public by appointment.

A heritage centre and agricultural unit could be developed on the site of his home.

The house was secured with grants from the Welsh government and the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF), and will be looked after by the Snowdonia National Park Authority.

Wales' First Minister, Carwyn Jones, said he was delighted to announce the place had been safeguarded on St David's Day.

"Hedd Wyn, his work and his tragic death give him a special place in both the history and culture of our nation," he said.

"It is all the more poignant as we approach the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War and we remember the sacrifices made by so many," he added.

Had the National Eisteddfod been held at its usual time of year in August the bard might have learned of his success, but in 1917 the festival was held in September.

Dr Manon Williams the NHMF trustee for Wales called securing Yr Ysgwrn's future a very important project.

"Like so many, Hedd Wyn paid the ultimate price and came to symbolise the loss of an entire generation," she said.

"His poetry, together with other writing inspired by his death, stands as a poignant testament to the culture of his age," she added.

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

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

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".

"By transferring Yr Ysgwrn to the cautious care of the park authority I know that my promise to my grandmother will be kept and respected and that Yr Ysgwrn and the Gadair Ddu will stay together as an unit," he added.

Depending on further grant aid the park authority would like to develop a heritage centre which will focus on the life of Hedd Wyn, WWI, poets and writers from the period, social life in rural Wales at the turn of the 20th Century, life on a mountain farm, biodiversity and sustainable land management practice.

Around 3,000 people visit the house each year, by appointment only.

This will continue for at least the next four years, when the park authority plans to finalise future plans.

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