Lady of Stone

In order to see this content you need to have both Javascript enabled and Flash installed. Visit BBC Webwise for full instructions

"I was shocked to see years of shameful neglect." Returning this grand old lady's charm and dignity required patience, hard work and commitment.


"I travelled from Liverpool to visit my sister in Wales. At the Arch in Cwmystwyth I was nearing the end of my journey. Gelmast Farm, my destination nestled snugly in the foothills of Pen-y-Garn.

I was shocked to see years of shameful neglect, gnawing into the fabric of a once proud building. A gable end was leaning precariously, roof slates lay on the ground. I felt I had been summoned to witness this bitter decay and I was gripped by an overwhelming desire to give back the lost dignity to this old lady of stone.

The only inhabitant was a frail old man and he begged me to stay and help him. I jumped at the opportunity. I had to shack up in a leaking old caravan alongside the barn. The old man died within a year of my arrival so I found myself alone and honoured to be a caretaker of a kind.

I came to know and respect that building, delving into its secrets and marvelling at its construction. Negotiations with the owners took nearly a year but eventually I purchased the homestead, lock stock and barrel, including a flock of sheep.

Lambing was a horrendous experience and looking after the sheep was a full time job, but nevertheless, I set to work returning dignity to the ancient old lady.

I tamed a troupe of semi wild bantams and encouraged the local wild life to keep me company.

After a lot of hard, physical work the restoration was completed and the house has come alive with the laughter of my grandchildren.

I look at the old girl and I fill with pride and satisfaction as she smiles at me in the sunshine."

By: Tony Murray
Published: January 2005

An interview with the author

Please tell us a little about yourself.
Being at a loose end in my life, I came to Wales visiting. I had lived previously in Liverpool - employed in a factory for 14 years that had no windows so getting away from the smoke and grime was a release. I have taken to creative writing and digital storytelling was a great opportunity.

What's your story about?
About discovering an old building (1803) and renovating it. Along the way I have made many friends and become more learned of nature and its ways.

Why did you choose to tell this particular story?
Because the frustrations of bureaucracy had built up within and telling the story was a release. The precise wording and the coupling of images to suit produced a better effect than just words.

Your comments

"This was a great tale and an inspiration to all. I would like to hear more about Mr. Murray to find out what else he has done."
Steve Snell, Chester.

"Unbelievable, amazing and magical story that brings a tear to my eye. It is the greatest story I've ever heard, this story makes me happy when skies are grey. I've never been so satisfied with a digital story. Fabulous work there dude."
Colin Culkin, Wrexham.

"I'm visiting Wales virtually today and having such a lovely time. This story makes me think about the kindred spirits who love old houses and will do what they can to restore and protect them. It was wonderful to hear this gentlemen's voice tell his story. Thank you so much! "
Estella Alexander, New York, USA.

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.