Welcome to Dinefwr Park, home to Newton House and Dinefwr Castle. We visited on a drizzly day in July, with my cousin and her daughter. Cows lounged in the field along the roadway, looking very much at home.
We learned that these are no ordinary cows; they are White Park Cattle, an ancient breed of horned cattle that have been around for a very long time - more than 1000 years!
Our guide told us that during World War II, the cattle's white colour stood out at night and helped the enemy bombers locate their targets. An attempt was made to first paint the cows green, then later to cover them with camouflage blankets, but these efforts failed as the cattle didn't recognize each other and began acting strangely. So the cattle were shipped to Canada, first residing at the Toronto Zoo, then later to the USA. A well-traveled breed!
Lord Rhys (Rice) built the original Newton House in 1660. Traces of it are still visible, but most of the current structure dates to 1850. Capability Brown was consulted about the landscaping, resulting in beautiful views from the house. Financial difficulties resulted in unfinished work. If you look carefully at the arches on either side of the doorway, you'll notice the right side is much more detailed than the left.
From the formal drawing room and the dining room one's eyes are drawn to the medieval deer park, one of the most important features of this site.
A herd of fallow deer graze peacefully in the misty landscape. This scene has changed little for hundreds of years.
This stack of old books appealed to me.
Financial troubles forced the sale of the property in the 1970s, after which it fell into ruin. Some of the upper floor support beams were cut out and used for firewood. Today's reconstruction reveals what life was like in 1912. The basement reveals what life was like below stairs, with clothes to try on, a silver safe to peer into, and the butler's room to explore (I thought immediately of Mr. Carson).
I wish I could have tucked a few of these plant pots, available in the gift shop, into my luggage.
We took a tour of the house and saw some sections not open otherwise. Guided tours are a wonderful way to learn some of the stories about the houses we visited.
The tea shop is located in the former billiard room, complete with fireplace. I enjoyed a delicious Courgette (Zucchini), Garlic and Stilton Soup and a Cheese Scone.
After lunch we walked up the hill to Dinefwr Castle, built in the 12th century by an earlier Lord Rhys.
A view from the battlements shows the extent of the castle.
The views over the valley are extensive and would have been very useful to see if anyone were approaching the castle, be he friend or foe.
A view of Newton House from the castle.
Tim, my cousin and her daughter.
While touring the ruins, I felt the similarities between this 12th century castle, and the one in Les Andelys - Chateau Gaillard, built by Richard the Lion-Heart, about which I wrote earlier. The designs were similar, but the building materials very different. Here is the dark stone of Wales, whereas Chateau Gaillard is constructed of golden limestone.
I hope you've enjoyed this brief tour of Dinefwr - both a castle and a house. It's been just two months since we visited which seems short, but much has happened since then. I like going back over the photos and my travel journal. Tim and I reminisce and it makes the pleasure of the journey linger.
Linking to Mosaic Monday, hosted by Maggie of Normandy Life.