Bach y graig
Bach y graig House was the earliest brick house in Wales. Built in 1567 by Sir Richard Clough1, second husband of Katherine Tudor of Berain. Richard made a pilgrimage to the Jerusalem, became a Knight of the Holy Sepulchre2 and returned to Great Britain where he accumulated a considerable fortune and was knighted, becoming Sir Richard Clough.
Bach y graig House was a pyramidal building six stories high, eccentric, ugly and inconvenient. Above a large hall a number of little rooms clustered under the turret or cupola which topped the lot. The painted glass windows included the arms of the knights of the Holy Sepulchre, with a heart, including…
his own and his wife's initials; and beneath, 'Cor unum, via una;' the arms of Elystan Glodrudd; and those of Sir Thomas Gresham, and of several kingdoms with which these munificent merchants traded. There are, besides, some broken wheels, with a sword, the usual emblems of St. Catherine.
When Hester and Henry Thrale visited in July 1774 accompanied by Samuel Johnson, it had been dilapidated and unoccupied. The floorboards were stolen, the windows broken and boarded-up. The picture of The children of Israel bitten by serpents still present.
Later Hester's second husband Gabriel Piozzi - was seen as a quiet, civil and amiable man and landlord - repaired Bach y graig House…
at a monstrous expense because his little wife was vain of it.
The main house was demolished in 1817 but its other buildings still stand as a farm and guest house3. There is a nature trail through 40 acres of ancient woodland which hosts several ancient species of plants.
It is said that his Satanic Majesty was the not architect of Bach-Y Graig, but merely the contractor, who supplied the bricks and other materials; the clay for the former having been, as is supposed, dug from the bottomless pit, and baked in his own kiln, in the nether regions; the ambitious builder consenting to consign his soul to him, as payment, in case any human eye should see them when in conference together at midnight, in the room alluded to, which had no window.
It is also said that Satan only supplied at once the daily quota, and that when the workmen had used up all the materials each evening, they always found a fresh supply in the morning. But, at last, the builder' lady, wondering that her lord should always retire to this dark room at midnight, with that curiosity which is natural, if not peculiar to ladies, one night peeped slyly through the key-hole, and having caught a glimpse of Satan's person and hideous physiognomy, set up a scream, in her fright; and at that instant, the devil snatched away her lord through the wall, carrying a large portion of the brickwork along with him, in his hurry to secure his prey.
To account for this legend, it is said that Sir Richard was a great astronomer, that he had an observatory at the top of the house, where he used to spend nights together taking observations of the heavens; and while he was thus engaged, and, perhaps, "devoutly looking up from nature to nature's God" the ignorant peasantry thought he was seeking divination, and holding conference with evil spirits.
- 1. died 1570.
- 2. Richard Clough, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Richard_Clough&oldid=309744186 (last visited Apr. 2, 2010).
- 3. Bach y graig Guest House