Steeped in history, Waunifor was once a thriving estate of over 1000 acres. The earliest historical record is in a dispute over legal ownership in court records of 1605. By 1760 Waunifor had become the seat of the Bowen family. Thomas Bowen, the squire of Waunifor built a Methodist chapel for the use of the local populace, close to the main buildings of the estate. The principal families of Waunifor had a history of humanitarian and charity work and would regularly make emergency grants to the poor, helping to set up mutual societies and donating towards repairs to the church and local bridges.
The estate passed by inheritance to the Lloyds, Charles Lloyd was a Justice of the Peace for Carmarthenshire and Cardiganshire (now Ceredigion) and a devout churchman. His descendent Alistair Lloyd wrote in a letter ‘Waunifor was an old house possibly mentioned by Wordsworth, which has been enlarged from time to time’. The poem ‘Simon Lee’ is about a huntsman and could quite possibly be referring to Waunifor in the first few lines as Ivor-Hall.
“In the sweet shire of Cardigan,
Not far from pleasant Ivor-Hall,
An old man dwells, a little man,
Tis said he once was tall.
Full five and thirty years he lived.
A running huntsman merry;
And still the centre of his cheek
Is red as a ripe cherry”.
After the second world war the farms were sold and the estate shrunk to five acres as the farm acreage was disposed of to pay for death duties. Waunifor was a fully working farm estate at it’s peak and the walled garden and bee boles are remnants of the days of self suffficiency. The bee boles are located in a stone wall to the front of The Longhouse, they are alcoves that used to house a coiled straw ‘skep’ which housed the bees. Bee keeping was a common activity before sugar became plentiful, and they were often built close to the house so that swarms could be detected and captured quickly and also close to fruit trees to aid pollination. The eighteenth and nineteenth centuries were the heyday of bee bole construction especially on country house estates.
The Longhouse, previously named Chimney Cottage, dates from 1760 and is a listed building being the oldest cottage on the site. It was once used as servants quarters and used to adjoin the Mansion House kitchens. Once thatched, it was built to a traditional welsh design, possibly as a welsh longhouse which also housed animals in the outer barns. It has a magnificent inglenook fireplace, oak beams and a panelled dining area retaining much character and is one of our most popular cottages.
The Mansion House was the home of the resident family and went through many changes over the years. Part of the original structure has been lost through dry rot and the current owners have extensively renovated and refurbished the remaining rooms. It still retains a cellar which was thought was to have been used as a small prison when the Assizes (travelling courts) were held at Waunifor. In later years the cellars were used to store food and wines.
The buildings were converted into accommodation and many still retain original features and lots of character. Coachhouse Mews used to be the accommodation for the coachman and his family and is situated above several rooms which used to house the carriages and later the owner’s Studebaker car. Adjoining this building is Stable Cottage which used to be where the horses were stabled, and recesses in the wall where the hay mangers were situated are still clearly visible. The buildings where Robin Cottage and Duckpond Cottage now are were originally used to house other farm animals.
The Victorian walled garden produced vegetables and fruits for the estate workers and family and currently is being cultivated as a wild flower meadow. There are a lot of mature trees throughout the grounds which have been part of the estate for hundreds of years.
The Mansion House circa 1900
Bee Boles in the garden wall.