Early spring is definitely the best time to visit abandoned places. Later in the year, boskage and the ferocious growth of brambles/nettles makes exploring and photography difficult.
This spring we set off for Beaumaris and found the place very easily. It must be the worst kept secret in Wales - there is a well-worn path to the place and it appears to be a popular venue for young folk, explorers and homeless folk, despite being hidden in dense woodland. There's a long avenue, presided over by several gatehouses and a bridge over the main road. Once into the grounds proper, the gardens present a tangled picture although it is possible to pick out the ruined temple, water features and ornamental walks among the vigorous tree growth.
|One of the gatehouses on the driveway.|
Nearer to the house, or what remains of it, we found the stable block and coach house. The number of doors gives an indication of how wealthy the owners must have been.
The house is a teetering shell of a place, very dangerous, with the plaster decoration crumbling from the brick walls. One feature I found most impressive were the cast iron joists holding the walls together, supporting invisible floors which had long since rotted away. Graffiti covers the walls, something I love to see, especially on an old mansion like this. I know folk get very heated about graffiti, but to me it adds to the atmosphere and so often contributes a note of humour, even when that was not the original intention. No doubt, back in the halcyon days of the mansion, the owner would have been a magistrate and would have put away a good few local youths in his time. Not these youths, anyway.
I always feel ambivalent about "stately homes", mansions and their builders. In my early teens, I was sent away to a posh school in a grand country house, full of young toffs. Having a northern English/Scottish accent, I was vilified by the little lordlings. Of course, I developed a robust defence which ensured I was left very much alone after a few unfortunate incidents, but since then I have always disliked the idea of a "ruling class" and all that goes with that ethos. That's probably why ruined places like this delight me. I will acknowledge that many people were provided with jobs as a result of these folk and that in their own patronising way they were a stabilising influence within the community, but the prosperity gap between the people who could build something like this mansion and the ordinary folk of Beamaris was vast. The Bulkeleys seem a relatively civilised bunch, not having gone in for slavery like the folk over at Penrhyn, although if old accounts are to be believed, they did dabble in a bit of poisoning- the grasping for the family fortune became a little intense at times. Finally, death duties helped to suck the little remaining life out of the place.
|The old kitchen, where cooks and maids worked long hours to provide food for the house.|
Now the broken windows of the Bulkeley's mansion gaze emptily over the fields above Beamaris. Yet, I imagine that the place has as much fascination, if not more, than it ever has. Old photographs show a rather charmless place, neat and tidy but much like any other rich man's pile of bricks. Now nature's artistry has added something else, something special that we can all appreciate. By the look of the wealth of material on the web about the place, it seems that many folk have been doing just that, for at least the last thirty years.
Much has been written on the forums and blogs about this fascinating ruin, mostly filched from Wikipedia, so I won't add to the white noise by repeating the same mantra. Here's the link for the history.
Finally, there are many more photos on my Flickr stream of the explore here.