April 10, 2022 6:00 pm

For over 60 years, her name has been synonymous with typical English country house style. So it’s understandable that Laura Ashley isn’t always aware of her true form, Wales.

The legend of Merthyr Tydfil, the Dowlais girl, was born in 1953. As her 28-year-old secretary, Laura lived with her husband Bernard in a small basement in Pimlico, central London. Inspired by her exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum, she worked on a silkscreen made by her husband in her kitchen and learned how to transfer colors to her cloth. Then their first order was 20 scarves from John Lewis, which led her on the path to fashion immortality.

When we set out on a road trip around Wales with the undulating fields and magnificent valleys of Brecon Beacons around, we were at Laura’s first resting place at the Llangoed Hall Hotel, which was listed in the 5-star Grade II. I found something in the heritage. The village of Llyswen on the banks of the River Wye.

Llangoed Hall
-Credit: Julian Calverley

Llangoed Hall Snooker Room

Llangoed Hall Snooker Room
-Credit: Julian Calverley

On the wall behind the glass in the garden room is something like a revered relic. It’s a gray and white striped tabard (apron) that looks pretty normal and appears to be repaired at one point with a safety pin. This was clearly Laura’s first garment ever made in that Pimlico kitchen and was the first step on her path to revolutionizing the look of a British middle-class home.

The connection between Laura and Llangoed Hall came through her husband (then Sir Bernard), who bought this magnificent Jacobean-style mansion shortly after his death in 1985 and opened it as a hotel in 1990. Her unique romantic fabric design is everywhere, along with its country house-style plush sofas, antique furniture, and beautiful pots full of flowers.

Located on the upper floors of the North Wing, the elegant rooms are certainly Ashley-inspired, with rich fabrics, deep and comfortable sofas, and four-poster beds. After an adventurous excursion to the river through the vast gardens, I needed sherry to help calm my nerves. I noticed that I was surrounded by a group of excited young cows.

Llangoed Hall's Laura Ashley Suite

Llangoed Hall’s Laura Ashley Suite
-Credit: Julian Calverley

Shina, a charming manager of Lllangoed, was enthusiastic about guiding the hotel and was very proud of the art collection as evidence of the hotel as a whole.

The hotel artwork is incredible, from huge formal oil paintings to intimate and economical pencil drawings. At the heart of the Llangoed collection are the stunning paintings of the British Modern Movement (1880-1930), led by James McNeill Whistler and his disciple Walter Sickert.

Sir Bernard imagined the atmosphere of an Edwardian house party at Llangoed Hall. There, guests arrive tired of the hardships of the world of travel and work, engrossed in the host as if they were actually friends, and not just a visitor who rents a room and patronizes. restaurant.

“I want a great handsome house. With classic proportions, full of comfortable antiques and photos, you can stay in the gallery on your way to dinner,” explained Sir Bernard. “In the winter there is a fiery firewood fire, and in the summer the breeze from the garden gives off a sweet scent of the house.”

At dinner, he created a contemporary dish equivalent to the Edwardian mix of “The Best British Cuisine, Complemented by the Discovery of the Continental Grand Tour.” Rich Comte cheese tart, tender venison loin and sweet vanilla panna cotta fit the bill perfectly!

The next destination, the Mansion House Hotel in the beautiful village of Slan Stefan, was an hour’s drive away. Here you will find the impressive ruins of Norman Castle on a wooden hill. The mansion house itself is in its most illustrious location in a five-acre garden on the cape overlooking the mouth of the Twee, with stunning views of the river flowing towards the sea. The sunset here is very nice.

Husband and wife teams David and Wendy Beaney (she is from Carmarthenshire) – their four kids also tip and help – bought this Georgian home in 2012 and loved it In the middle of returning to its original glory and adding one or two modern touches. Local staff welcome you and make it a very relaxing place to stay.

All rooms are named after the Welsh hill farm and our Buri in the annex of the main building was not disappointed with the particularly comfortable beds and highly efficient showers. We ate at the wonderful Moryd restaurant with 2 AA rosettes. The highlight was the line-catch sea bass with pesto, balsamic potatoes and black garlic butter.

We refreshed Carmarthenshire culturally and spiritually with the cheerful voice of young Richard Burton reading a classic recording of 1954’s “Under Milk Wood” echoing in Audi’s sound system.

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