by Huw Jones, FUW Meirionnydd county executive officer
I was thrilled and honoured to be part of the official re-opening of Yr Ysgwrn at the beginning of September, and also to have the chance of chatting for a while with Gerald Williams (Hedd Wyn’s nephew).
For some time now, the new look farmhouse and the outbuildings in Trawsfynydd has been open to the public following recovery of the site through careful conservation and development.
During the event, there were fantastic presentations from Carwyn Jones, First Minister of Wales; Baroness Kay Andrews, Chair of Wales Lottery Heritage Fund and Ifor ap Glyn, National Poet of Wales.
There was also an “In Character” performance - Hedd Wyn, which was a one man show, where a young actor Sion Emyr brought the story of Hedd Wyn alive for us. I really enjoyed the experience, and I thank Snowdonia National Park for the chance of being there.
Of course, the story of ‘Yr Ysgwrn’ is well known to everyone for being the home of the bard Elis Humphrey Evans, or as we know him better under his poetic name Hedd Wyn.
This traditional hill farm became famous in 1917 after Hedd Wyn won a chair for his ode ‘Yr Arwr’ in Birkenhead National Eisteddfod, six weeks after he was killed in the War.
The farmhouse is home of the Gadair Ddu (Black Chair) and it’s probably one of the most notable pieces of furniture in Wales. It’s called Y Gadair Ddu (Black Chair) because it was covered with a black cloth during the Chairing ceremony at the National Eisteddfod in 1917, hence the name, Black Chair.
The event held by the National Park was of course to coincide with the 100 year anniversary of the Eisteddfod in Birkenhead and obviously it was a very memorable event.
Following Hedd Wyn’s death, people from near and far were welcomed to Yr Ysgwrn, and it was the wish of his mother, Mary Evans, before she died that the family would “keep the door open”, and Gerald, Hedd Wyn’s nephew, was the last of the family to do so before transferring the farm over to the National Park Authority.
The Snowdonia National Park bought Yr Ysgwrn in 2012 in order to safeguard the farm for generations to come. A grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Welsh government were secured in order to carry out significant work on the farm and buildings.
The farm extends to 168 acres of agricultural land with grazing rights for 300 sheep on the neighbouring common. The farming element of the farm is now under the care of a tenant.
The special work that has gone on there allows someone to get a feel for the past, and the home where the poet was raised. A reception desk, interpretation centre and café was opened in the old cowshed below the house, Beudy Llwyd. I’ll have to visit again!