South East Wales

Dyffryn House, Vale of Glamorgan gets £600,000 award

Dyffryn House interior
Image caption The rooms will be refurbished and reopened after a 16-year closure

A stately home in the Vale of Glamorgan has been awarded a £600,000 lottery grant to refurbish its main rooms.

The work on Grade II* listed Dyffryn House will restore its late-Victorian interiors designed in French Renaissance and English Baroque styles.

The grant will also be used to employ an interpretation and learning officer and to train volunteers.

The house near St Nicholas has been closed to the public since 1996, but is due to reopen to visitors next year.

The three-storey mansion was built by coal tycoon John Cory in 1893 and is considered to be one of the most important houses of its period.

It is the centrepiece of the 55 acre Grade I listed Dyffryn Gardens, now run as a tourist attraction by the Vale of Glamorgan council.

The gardens currently attract 52,000 visitors a year and are regularly used for events.

They also include an arboretum and an observatory run by Cardiff Astronomical Society.

The Heritage Lottery Fund previously awarded a total of over £6.15m to restore the gardens' features and landscapes in 1997 and 2005.

Dan Clayton Jones, chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) in Wales, said: "This award is the final piece in the jigsaw of the restoration project at Dyffryn.

"The house is one of the most important to have survived from the period and reflects the enormous wealth amassed by John Cory over 100 years ago.

"We are delighted that the HLF grant will reopen the house and reunite it once more with the gardens as it was originally designed, creating one fantastic space for visitors to enjoy."

The council hopes the reopening of the house will double visitor numbers to the gardens within 10 years.

Rhodri Traherne, the council's cabinet member for economic development and regeneration, said: "Bringing the house back into use as part of the visitor experience at Dyffryn will be a significant development in making this an important heritage destination, benefiting not only Dyffryn but the region as a whole."

Image caption Dyffryn House was the home of 19th Century mining magnate John Cory

Staff at the attraction hope to build on the enthusiasm of 25 committed volunteers and more than 300 members of the Friends of Dyffryn Gardens to increase involvement of the local community.

People of all ages will be encouraged to volunteer as researchers, flower arrangers, and tour guides in full Edwardian costume.

Site curator Geraldine Donovan said a volunteer open day will be held on 5 May for people wanting to get involved.

"From the interest expressed so far by both friends and the community, we are confident that we will attract the new house volunteers which are essential to the project's success," she said.

The restoration work is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2012 to be followed by a series of events, activities, exhibitions and school visits.

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