Court Farm Visit

Court Farm Pembrey c1900Our first field trip of the year on Sunday afternoon, 26th April, was blessed by bright sunshine and a cool sea breeze. We were given a guided tour by the Friends of Court Farm of what is now an impressive ruin of a once imposing sixteenth century country manor house. Dominic Conway talked about the history of the house and its former inhabitants, while the architectural design and changes to the house and its outbuildings through the centuries were explained in detail by buildings expert, David Priest.

Traces of its former sophistication can still be seen in the elegant stone window openings and carved stone surrounds of long gone fireplaces. Ivy creeps up parts of the walls and a few roof timbers remain overhead, but it is easy to imagine the privileged lives of the Vaughans who owned the property half a millennium ago.

The farm in those days was part of an estate comprising lands on both sides of the Burry estuary – arable on the Gower, and livestock at Pembrey. It is rumoured that the income of the owners of Court Farm was occasionally supplemented by illicit imports or the proceeds of wrecking. Certainly, the position of the house with its panoramic view of the estuary could hardly be bettered for such a purpose.

This prominent position also led to a more benign function – the building was kept white lime-washed in order to be seen from afar and serve as a guide and signpost for sailors negotiating the treacherous sands of Carmarthen Bay.

The Friends of Court Farm unfortunately do not own the building (it is owned by a trust), but they put a lot of work into preserving it, and hope soon to be able to re-instate the gardens. An archaeological dig is shortly to take place which, they hope, will reveal the presence of a Tudor garden on three levels. This would be a fine restoration project and would no doubt be a great attraction for tourists.

Patricia Neil, one of the Friends, said that the Carmarthen branch of the Welsh Historic Gardens Trust, who are helping with the project, were appealing for anyone with information and knowledge about the Llanelli Allotments to contact the Friends of Court Farm, so if anyone has such information, do please let them know.

We were also treated to tea and home-made cakes, which were quite delicious, and a ghost story which was intriguing!