The plough and the plas
Our emblem combines two elements which are central to our research priorities and important for understanding the history of the landed estate in Wales.
This delicate agricultural tool was an integral component on Welsh estates for hundreds of years. It represented a primary mechanism through which people connected with the land and was synonymous with the care and cultivation of property. In medieval times, the employment of agricultural imagery in Welsh praise poetry was commonplace, with patrons regularly honoured for their good management of the land and the provision of sustenance for the surrounding community. The plough continued to make an immense contribution to the economic viability of estates long into the twentieth century. We thought it fitting that the plough form a central part of our brand: it represents the fact that an estate was not just about the interests, activities and influence of landowners, but also about the lives and experiences of thousands of individuals who lived and worked on the land.
Over the course of late and post medieval history, the plas or Welsh country house represented an important feature of the landscape in all parts of Wales. They were the powerbases – the centres of governance, culture and politics – situated at the heart of Wales’ landed estates, and the residences of the gentry, squirearchy and aristocracy: the uchelwyr of Wales. They were important architectural structures and statements, often dominating their surrounding landscapes. Some of these buildings are still in the possession of their ancestral owners; others are cared for by organisations such as the National Trust; far too many have been demolished or are in serious risk of decay and obliteration.
The plas which features in our logo is based on the appearance of one such house which has succumbed to demolition: Ynysmaengwyn in Tywyn, Merionethshire. This exceptionally fine brink house was rebuilt from 1758 on a site which had played an important role in the locality for centuries. In medieval times, and long after, its residents were fervent patrons of the Welsh bardic order and in spite of several failures in the male line, its succession of occupants – noticeable the Wynn and Corbet families, and John Corbett (1817–1901) – continued to contribute towards the functioning of the surrounding area from the 16th century onwards. Sometime after 1951 the estate was given to the council, who were unable to maintain the upkeep of the building. The house was used for army training and firefighting practice before eventually being pulled down in 1965. Collections relating to the Ynysmaengwyn estate are held at the National Library of Wales and the Meirionnydd Record Office branch of Gwynedd Archives.
We believe that Wales’ country houses form an important part of our national heritage and can play a critical role in showcasing the diverse histories of the localities in which they are situated. Through research, engagement and collaboration we are committed to unlocking that potential.