A 16th century mansion in Caerphilly will open as a bed and breakfast after three years of restoration.
Van Mansion, located between Caerphilly town and Rudry, was bought by Christine Tallon and Adrian Cole in March 2017, and will open to guests on Sunday, November 22.
The Grade II listed building has undergone a significant amount of restoration work both inside and out.
Four bedrooms will be opened to the public, with a further two planned next year.
Y Fan – renamed to recognise its original name – was built in the 1500s by Edward Lewis, a sheriff of Glamorgan, where his family lived until 1616 before Sir Edward Lewis transferred his seat to St Fagans Castle.
Much of the building is built from dressed stone taken from ruins of Caerphilly Castle.
The estate later became the property of the Earl of Plymouth and fell into a state of disrepair over the next two hundred years.
While the main house was rebuilt toward the end of the 20th century, and its outbuildings have been developed into houses, it has been kept largely out of public view.
The mansion’s new owners now hope the building will become an asset to Caerphilly and restore an important part of the area’s history.
Christine, who worked in Cardiff before moving to London where she was a partner at a law firm, said they decided to take on the challenge of developing the mansion in order to “quit the rat race” of London life.
She told Caerphilly Observer: “We are both sociable and wanted our time to become our own time.
“Buildings like this need love and need to live. We knew it was going to be a project and the survey warned us that it really was not for the faint hearted.
“Although we have renovated houses previously, those were nothing compared to this. It has been a complete lifestyle change.
“With a property this size, every job takes weeks. You cannot paint a room without putting up scaffolding.”
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The extensive work has been a balance between making Y Fan a home and making it suitable for guests, all in line with Cadw restrictions and under the watchful eye of architects and archaeologists.
Repointing of the exterior has begun, structural issues like damp have been addressed and the interior has been soundproofed and completely redecorated. Each unique bedroom has an ensuite bathroom, WiFi and TV.
Guests will also have use of a large social space with a licenced bar, while food and drink will be sourced locally.
Ensuring the development is in keeping with both the building’s history and the local area has also been a priority.
Work has been carried out by local tradespeople using local materials, while rooms have been renamed after local historical figures like Gilbert de Clare, the Green Lady and Gruffydd the Fair.
Adrian, who worked as a finance director in London, said recognising the distinctiveness of the local area has been an important part of the project:
“Welshness is important. Having come from London, it is clear Wales is a distinctly different place to England, and it has been thoroughly enjoyable learning about the history of the area and getting to know people.
“An added benefit is just how beautiful this area is. From here you can see Caerphilly Castle, up the Rhymney Valley and onto Gwern y Domen.
“For me, this project has been about bringing the building back to life and bringing some history back.”
The initial intention was to open the bed and breakfast earlier this year, but the coronavirus pandemic has added around six months to the project.
This meant Y Fan missed the entire summer season, while business aid has not been an option as trading had not begun prior to the pandemic.
Tourism contributed over £134 million to the county in 2019, with 1.8 million visitors supporting over 1,626 jobs.
As Y Fan finally looks toward to its first full year of trading, there are future plans to develop an outdoor hospitality terrace for afternoon tea and evening drinks.
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