This week’s curiosity is a grotto in Wales and not the variety where you might find Santa. The Cilwendeg Shell House Hermitage is an ornamental grotto found in Pembrokeshire.
Originally built in the 1820s for Morgan Jones the Younger who inherited the Cilwendeg estate, this unusual building was recently restored to its former glory by the Temple Trust and is open to the public.
The inside of the grotto is decorated with native seashells, minerals and coloured glass fragments carefully arranged in patterns over the walls and ceiling. The floor is decorated using the knucklebones of sheep and oxen which were originally acquired from the estate farm at the time of building. More than just a quirky building, the grotto is a work of art and a great historic building. The grotto was more than likely used for holding tea parties and entertaining by the estate’s family. The decoration was intended to shimmer in the sunlight and delight the guests.
Cilwendeg Park is located to the east of the village of Boncath in Pembrokeshire. The Cilwendeg Shell House and the Capel Colman Church (which was also part of the Cilwendeg estate) are both open for public viewing on Thursdays from the first week in April to the last week in September, 9am – 6pm. Admission is free but site donations are always warmly welcomed.
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