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This guy


This is beautiful Llanwenarth House, which inspired the hymn All Things Bright and Beautiful. It’s a 16th C building with a largely 18th C interior.

Or was. It was bought by a property developer who gutted it and redid it, inside and out, to modern (and bad) taste. Not surprisingly, he did all this without planning permission, because he totally would never have gotten planning permission to vandalize an historically important building like that.

All this happened last Summer and it would have been a story but not a very big one, but for one thing: when they dug up the new patio and turned over the stones, they found writing on the back. He’d used headstones from a local disused children’s cemetery, leaving a host of Victorian unfortunates in unmarked graves. None of the sources were very specific about how he got them or induced the workmen to chop them up. I suppose one good villain was all the story required.

As it happens, making unauthorized alterations to a listed building is a criminal, not a civil, offense. We know this because we live in a listed building. Every time I wad up a newspaper and stick it in a drafty crack, I think to myself, “self — you could go to jail for that.” Or gaol, as they call it here. They can’t spell for shyte.

Welp, today the news comes that the legal process has done its evil work and dude has gone bankrupt defending himself. I’m not usually a fan of lawfare, but in this case, I’ll make an exception.

Phun phact: Cecil Alexander, who wrote All Things Bright and Beautiful, was a woman.


Comment from dissent555
Time: February 12, 2016, 12:41 am

I can see the jacuzzi as an updated Roman era bath, but I draw a line at what happened with the headstones.

Comment from smedley
Time: February 12, 2016, 1:57 am

In the dead pool some one pick Barry Manilow

Comment from Rich Rostrom
Time: February 12, 2016, 2:26 am

Around 1900, “Cecil” was reasonably common as a girl’s name (about 1/6 as common as a boy’s name), and nearly as common as “Cecile”.

Cecil Woodham-Smith, author of The Reason Why (a first-class work of military history) was a woman.

There was also Cecil Cunningham, who can be seen in many 1930s movies, usually playing a grande dame.

BTW, “Cecily” is almost totally unknown in the modern era (since 1880), though it was used in the Middle Ages (e.g. the Duchess of York during the Wars of the Roses, Cecily Neville).

Comment from Feynmangroupie
Time: February 12, 2016, 3:12 am

Cecily sounds like an adverb, as in: the developer cecily ripped out centuries-old paneling while the smuggled immigrant child workers looked on, in fear.

I’m torn between my firm robber baron tendencies to assert that being a rich tool with horrific taste isn’t illegal, and as he bought the damn place he can burn it down for all I care, and a recognition that places of historical significance would have been hacked apart and sold to the highest bidder were it not for the protection of the law.

Comment from Can’t Hark My Cry
Time: February 12, 2016, 12:21 pm

Let me be clear–I am absolutely not defending Mr. Davies. BUT, I have always been bemused by the tension inherent in “preservation” of a structure that has been inhabited for centuries–during which the successive owners have happily altered and replaced what previous owners did to it, generally because it didn’t suit their taste or their living style rather than because it was no longer functional. Suddenly, at a late stage, either because of something notable that occurred there or, more often, just because, we decide that its current state must hereafter be sacrosanct. I understand why it happens, and I think on the whole that I am in general glad that it happens; but I also recognize the mild underlying absurdity, not to mention the second-order effects, such as putting it beyond the financial ability of the current owners to maintain.

Comment from Deborah HH
Time: February 12, 2016, 1:31 pm

I am ashamed to say how old I was before I realized that gaol was jail. Bob wire and bar ditches are another embarrassing story.

Re: listed historical properties. Is there any financial benefit to the homeowner for buying the property? Tax breaks or reduced interest rate on mortgage? Free architectural advice/supervision on updating utilities, windows, et cetera? Since you discovered that your home has hex symbols on some of the timbers, does that increase its historical-ness? Is that information added to the historical documents?

In the case of the Llanwenarth House, weren’t local authorities somewhat culpable, too? How can that much remodeling occur without someone noticing?

Comment from Wolfus Aurelius
Time: February 12, 2016, 4:07 pm

Comment from Deborah HH
Time: February 12, 2016, 1:31 pm

I am ashamed to say how old I was before I realized that gaol was jail.
I know when I realized it: when I read Rebecca. I’d been seeing it in Sherlock Holmes stories, I think, and in John Dickson Carrs, but never connected the two until I pronounced “gaol” out loud — not “Gay-Oll,” which is how it looks, but “jail.”

Comment from Ric Fan
Time: February 12, 2016, 4:45 pm

What’s that smaller building to the left of it? It’s at least 2 stories.

Comment from mojo
Time: February 12, 2016, 4:46 pm

The Nat. Trust tends to have a very tiny sense of humor, true. Infinitesimal, one might say, to the point of non-existence.

What did they bang Mr. Remodel with? Fines? Jail? Both?

Comment from mojo
Time: February 12, 2016, 4:52 pm

PS: Hex marks? What’s this? Do you have hooked crosses on your roof-beams, Weas? When did this happen?

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: February 12, 2016, 6:58 pm

I don’t know bar ditches, but bob wire and whelps are two that brought me adult embarrassment. And coalall.

Stringent protection of listed buildings is a new thing here — half our house was stuck on in the Seventies, though pretty sympathetically done. I must say, libertarian though I am, I’m in favor of strict controls on altering listed buildings — in principle.

In practice, the people in control of doling out permissions are seriously bugfuck crazy. Very inconsistent in the things they do and don’t allow, and some of their rulings are just nuts.

I recently had this long conversation with two of my neighbors who also live in listed houses. We agreed (naturally), by maintaining these places to the standard they insist upon, we’re doing a very expensive service for the nation. You’d think we’d get some kind of recognition. A tax break or low interest loans or something, but no.

Comment from Ric Fan
Time: February 12, 2016, 8:47 pm

I use to watch these brit docs of people restoring these listed houses. There was always long long delays because they had to get planning permission for numerous steps.

Comment from Ric Fan
Time: February 14, 2016, 4:02 pm

I think the small annex to the left is a kitchen. It would explain the multiple chimneys. It does not explain that why it is 2 plus stories. Any ideas?

Comment from Ric Fan
Time: February 14, 2016, 4:04 pm

The NPS official in DC who was head of historic preservation decided to remodel his historic house without permission and against the rules he pushed on others. He got a fine but he did not lose his job which is typical for the NPS crooks.

Comment from Mrs. Peel
Time: February 15, 2016, 2:32 pm

Had this baby been a daughter, she would have been named Cecily Elizabeth. But it is another boy, and for the life of us, we cannot think of a name we both like that works with our last name and with our first son’s name (the yelling test is critical – “Boy 1! Boy 2! Stop throwing dinosaurs!” Many names fail this test). Got about three months to go to find something…

(We actually did find one we both liked, but then my sister started dating a guy named that. So much for that plan.)

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: February 15, 2016, 9:04 pm

Aw, congrats on the second sprog, Mrs P! Good to see you again…

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