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In 1822 John Pugh made his will Testament and charged his son and heir, also called John Pugh, to provide an annual widow’s annuity of £5 for his wife Sarah out of the income from his “Freehold property of Cwm in the Township of Weeg Dolver”.  Whether the family of John Pugh junior lived at Cwm Weeg at the time is not known but we do know, that another John Pugh died on the 23rd March 1823 at Cwm Dolfor aged 3 years. This little boy was likely to have been the son of John Pugh junior, grandson of John Pugh of Maenllwyd. John Pugh of Maenllwyd died in the same year on the 18th of October but his widow, Sarah Pugh, still lived at Maenllwyd in 1842, when she is mentioned as owner occupier on the Tithe map and schedule.

Some time following his father’s death, John Pugh junior (in later documents referred to as “John Pugh of Penaron”) was struck with further misfortune when a block of 3 houses and a pub which he owned in the centre of Kerry village, burnt down in a fire. This block of properties originally consisted of 3 dwelling houses and a Blacksmith Shop and had been bought by Richard Pugh, our present John Pugh’s grandfather, from Jane Amis, the widow of Richard Amis, blacksmith, in 1769.

At some time after this purchase, the smithy yard was changed into an Inn, called the “Boot Inn”

In order to be able to rebuild all 4 properties after the fire, John Pugh jr. had to borrow large sums of money and mortgaged his real estate, including Cwm Weeg, as security. At the time he also owned the lease of the neighbouring farm of Pant Moel.  He became unable to serve his debts in the late 1830s and this led to his insolvency.

On the 7th April 1842 his real Estate was entrusted to two of his main creditors: John Evans of Glanmiheli and William Pugh of Ceulanau. John Evans was appointed as Trustee by the Court of Insolvency, William Pugh was his son. At the time of the 1841 census, John Pugh jr. was 65 years old and lived at upper Ceulanau with his son William.

In 1841, Cwm Weeg itself was farmed by a young tenant, the 22 year old Samuel Powell. He was unmarried and lived at Cwm Weeg with his 55 year old mother, a younger brother and sister, aged 14 and 15, a female house servant aged 14 and 3 farm labourers aged 13, 15 and 30. There was also a 9 year old boy called Richard Jones, probably a relative of the Powells. Samuel Powell did not only farm Cwm Weeg with 82 Acres but also Pant Moel which at the time had 59 Acres.

Following John Pugh’s insolvency, the whole Trust Estate (consisting of Cwm Weeg, Pant Moel, land on Criggin Common and the Boot Inn, Smithy and 3 dwelling houses in Kerry village) was put up for auction at the Herbert Arms in Kerry on Thursday the 18th of July, 1841 and Cwm Weeg (then called “Cwm Dolver”  Farm) was purchased by Mr John Naylor for £1,250. As Cwm Weeg farm consisted of 82 Acres at the time, this amounted to a price of £15 per Acre, including the house. Cwm Weeg thus became part of John Naylor’s Brynllwarch Estate, itself part of the Leighton Estate totalling just over 10.000 acres.

 

1861 Census

At some time before the late 1870s Cwm Weeg was then sold on to Mr Lewis Lewis, owner of the Tannery in Newtown, either to Lewis Lewis the elder, who died in 1861, or to his son, Lewis Lewis the younger. Lewis Lewis the elder had made a large amount of money out of the Newtown Tannery during the American civil war and invested some of it in land, building up his “Dolfor Estate”. Certainly in 1879, when the neighbouring farms of Pant Moel and Upper Weeg where sold, Cwm Weeg already belonged to the Lewis family.

Eventually, Cwm Weeg passed to the grandson, Hugh Lewis, and then to his widow, Eveline Martha Lewis, who shared the estate with her daughters, Katharine Medina Lewis and Jeannie Lewis Lewis.

The 1871 census

1871 Census

Tenants came and went throughout this period and at every Census, which was undertaken once a decade, the occupiers are different until in the 1881 Census, when Cwm Weeg was unoccupied. It is likely that major repairs were undertaken in this period. Some time in the 19th Century, the stone wall of the North West gable and a large part of the south west wall of the kitchen and the north East wall of the former room above the cellar must have been replaced with brick. Presumably at the same time, the guest bedroom chimney stack would have been inserted with brick and it is unlikely that the house would have been habitable during these building works. There is a reference to the Lewis Estate records in the Powys Archives held in Llandrindod Wells from the late 19th Century: “Cwm Weeg, Kerry. A stock rearing farm of 82 acres let at a rental of £80 per year. The farm is isolated and has a poor approach. A considerable amount of money has been spent on repairs to the house and buildings and these are now in fair order. The Tithe is £6. 3. 6 and land tax nil.”

At the time, Cwm Weeg was estimated at £1,250 (the same sum which John Naylor had paid in 1841). For comparison, the whole of the Tannery in Newtown was worth £2,720, two houses in Severn Square, Newtown were estimated at £650 the pair and a cottage could be bought for £30. On the one hand, this means that a year’s rent for Cwm Weeg cost more than the purchase price of a couple of cottages, which seems rather a lot compared to today’s standards. On the other hand, £80 represents 6.4% of the estimated value of Cwm Weeg, which does not seem exorbitant.

1891 census

1891 Census

The farm remained in the possession of the Lewis family until 1958 but in the first decade of the 20th Century, a new family of tenants started farming at Cwm Weeg.

1911 census

1911 Census

Abraham (called Abae) Jones came from Mochdre. He was 42 at the time of the 1911 Census and his wife Emily was 35. They already had 8 children but by the time Abae was 80 and Emily was 73, when a photo was taken of the family during a wedding, Easter 1949, they had managed to raise 13 children at the Cwm. [see photo below] This alone was quite an achievement but what is quite astonishing is that all the children survived into adult hood despite 2 world wars. The Jones Family of Cwm Weeg is the main reason why so many of the present inhabitants around the Dolfor area have some family connection to “The Cwm” and many know of at least one grandparent, aunt or uncle who were born there.

Jones Family, Cwm Weeg
Easter 1949

 

During our early days at Cwm Weeg, a number of Abraham and Elsie’s children were still alive and came to a couple of our large garden open days. One of them was “Uncle Tom, the Smithy” from Dolfor, who had fond memories of his childhood at the Cwm. There was always plenty of good, homemade food, including home cured bacon from pigs reared on the farm and I have heard since, that they also “brewed a good beer at Cwm Weeg”. To this day, the boundary of the former garden has a number of Hop plants growing into the old hedgerow and as Hops do not seem to grow as wild plants in the Kerry hills, this is likely to be a remnant of home brewing.

Jones family wedding 1936

 

There was of course the ancient bread oven which is still visible in the kitchen today but when we bought Cwm Weeg, there was also the remnant of a “bake house” attached to the south west corner which to this day forms part of the foundation wall of the Conservatory.

Abraham and Emily’s eldest daughter was Elsie Jones and she married William Pryce George in …… The married couple could afford to buy Cwm Weeg when the Lewis family finally sold the residue of their Dolfor Estate on the 25th March 1958 and after a long period of tenancy, Cwm Weeg again became owner occupied.

William Pryce and Elsie had …..children and the Farm was farmed by Sidney in the 1970s but farming at Cwm Weeg came to an abrupt stop when Sidney, who had a history of depression died tragically in 1979. He was the last farmer occupier at Cwm Weeg and even though the farm and house where bought at auction in October 1979 by the farming brothers David and Gwyn Jarman of Llanllwchaiarn, the house with just over 4 Acres of land was separated off and sold on to a young couple, Brian and Elizabeth Weston, Brian a toolmaker and Elizabeth a teacher in March 1980.

Since then Cwm Weeg house and the old Cwm land have gone their separate ways.

The Westons lived at Cwm Weeg for 7 years during which time they had 3 children. After a number of rather severe winters the access to Cwm Weeg becomes a hard struggle on foot through snow drifts, they decided to sell.

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