Burton House

Burton House is an 18th century former coaching inn. Its history is roughly divided into four centuries, each of which is covered below.

18th Century

The oldest part of Burton House dates back to 1706.

Little is known about the house in the 18th century - what it was called, what it was used for, even the exact size of the house, although it was a lot smaller than it is now.

The house was almost certainly built and owned by Samuel Burton of Vronlace, Llandegley, who died on 12 March 1724 leaving his estate to his only son Edward Burton (who was born at Vronlace in 1701).

In 1726, Edward Burton was High Sheriff of Radnorshire, and shortly afterwards purchased land in Llanddewi and moved to Llanddewi Hall. Edward was also a churchwarden at Llanddewi Church, a magistrate, and in 1768 one of the commissioners for the Land Tax in Radnorshire. Edward did not have any children, so when he died on 7 June 1774 his estate (which included several properties in Llandegley) was bequeathed to his relative Edward Burton of Shrewsbury (who was only 17 at the time) to keep the land in the Burton family.

Three external walls remain of the original house, and these are built of a mixture of stone and slate with a rubble interior. One internal wall also still exists, which is timber framed.

As you can see in the photo, the original roof height was lower than it is now.

Bathroom Wall

In the latter half of the 18th century, Llandegley became popular with visitors due to the presence of a strong sulphurous spring. The book "Journey into South Wales in the Year 1799" by George Lipscomb states:

The road soon brought us to the village of Llandègles: and a painted post on the right hand pointed to Llandègles Wells, - a sulphureous vitriolic water, which arises in a field near the road. The spring is immediately conducted into a small building, now dilapidated, in which is a reservoir, which serves as a bath for the few persons who resort hither. The water is covered with a brown scum, is of a very dark blue, or rather blackish colour, and emits a strong and most abominable stench, as of rotten eggs. Its taste is not, however, so disagreeable as might be expected, the impregnation of the vitriol being but slight.

It is possible that the house became an inn at this time, but there is no direct evidence for this. Indeed, Carey's New Itinerary (1798) lists the Fleece Inn in Penybont (now the Severn Arms) but only mentions a church in Llandegley.

19th Century

Edward Burton of Shrewsbury lived in Shropshire for most of his life. In 1789, he married Dorothy Blakeway and they went on to have four children. Edward was a Major in the Shropshire Militia, and in 1802 was the Mayor of Shrewsbury.

At about the same, the first evidence of an inn in Llandegley comes in a book entitled "The Scenery, Antiquities and Biography of South Wales, from Materials Collected During Two Excursions in the Year 1803" by Benjamin Heath Malkin, which describes Llandegley as follows:

The village of Landegles consists of very few houses, but those few are rather interestingly placed; while the obliging manners of the people, in furnishing local information, with a degree of intelligence rather superior to what might have been expected from their condition, almost make a stranger regret, that the accommodations of the little inn are insufficient to admit of his lengthening his visit. I have more than once remarked the decency of manners, approaching almost to politeness, that distinguishes the lower classes of inhabitants in the principality. I do not know that Radnorshire yields to any county in this particular; and the attentions an Englishman experiences are not less acceptable, for being proffered in the English language. The address of the hosts and the families, both at New Radnor and Landegles, but particularly the latter, was highly to their credit, though they were in both cases very small farmers, with very little besides civility to offer the guests. Here especially, and in a very considerable degree elsewhere, I observed the grace with which the women perform the office of attendance at table, always presenting any article demanded with that sort of self-collected obeisance, so much noticed by travellers through France in damsels of the same description. In both cases, this superiority of deportment is probably acquired by the universal and frequent practice of dancing.

On 1 July 1811, the springs at Llandegley were mentioned in a Hereford Journal advert, together with the first known landlord of the inn:

Llandegley Wells, Radnorshire. The Public are respectfully informed that these Wells have been of late frequented by many genteel Families, and great benefit has been derived from the use of the Waters both in Drinking and Bathing. The strong mineral and other properties they possess, give them peculiar efficacy in all Scorbutic and Eruptive Complaints, and when combined with the fine air of the country in which they are situated, cannot fail to render these Wells highly interesting and beneficial as a place of public resort. N.B. Those who may have occasion to visit this salubrious spot, may be very comfortably and commodiously accommodated with Board and Lodging, by William Parton, who is constantly provided with a good Larder, and excellent Ale and Spirits.

A follow-up advert appeared the next summer, mentioning that the Inn had been improved, and transport via post chaise was now available:

Llandegley Wells, Radnorshire. William Parton respectfully begs leave to return his sincere thanks to his Friends, and the Public in general for the very liberal encouragement and support he received the last season, and to inform them, that he has lately fitted up his House in a comfortable and more commodious manner, and hopes by assiduous attention on his part, and the known celebrity of the Waters (from the great benefit many genteel Families and others received by their use), combined with the salubrity of the air of the country in which they are situate, that Llandegley Wells will prove highly beneficial and interesting as a place of public resort. N.B. The Inn is adjoining the direct Post Road from London to Aberystwith, is distant from Kington fourteen miles and Rhayader twelve. Neat Post Chaises, able Horses, and careful Drivers.

An almost identical advert appeared in 1824, but this time the landlord is Robert Bolter, and the post chaise fare was quoted as one shilling per mile - to put this into context, the typical wage of an agricultural labourer in this part of the country at the time was about two shillings per day for men and about one shilling per day for women.

Mr Bolter is also mentioned in "The Cambrian Balnea: Or Guide to the Watering Places of Wales" by Thomas Jeffery Llewelyn Prichard (1825), which starts the description of Llandegley Wells with a mention of the Burton Arms:

Llandegley Wells. The inn here, is called the Burton Arms, from the proprietor Edward Burton, Esq. of Shrewsbury; kept by a person named Boulter. As to the assiduities at this inn, with the good manners and character of the people, I can myself bear witness, with the addition, that the accommodations are very superior to those above described, and the "little inn" is larger and kept by different people. The reader may be assured that a few visitors who may wish to drink these waters and reside awhile, may be very creditably accommodated at the Burton Arms, or Llandegley House, as they sometimes call the inn. Mrs Boulter is not only very obliging, and her fare good, but she possesses considerable capacity in making her visitors comfortable; and it is to be regretted that so good a manager has not a better field to exert her talents in. If the proprietor of Llandegley, chose to build and adorn the place a little, it could not fail of becoming the resort of the fashionable and the ailing.

This means that the house was almost certainly extended in the first part of the 19th century to accommodate more staying guests - the reference to "above described" refers to a quotation from the previously mentioned Benjamin Malkin book, where the author complains that the inn was too small to allow him to stay.

An interesting article appeared in The Cambrian newspaper on 15 January 1825:

Singular Occurrence - A correspondent states, a short time since as two women were returning home from a friend's house, in crossing a field belonging to the Burton Arms Inn, Llandegley, Radnorshire, the night being dark, they deviated from the footpath, and the one accidentally stepped into a bog and lost her patten; the next day her husband went to look for it, when to his great surprise he discovered a human skull and several other bones. A coroner's inquest has been held on the remains, and an eminent surgeon was present, who stated his belief that there had been a murder committed upon some person unknown, but how long since or by whom appears to be enveloped in mystery, except compunctions of conscience should cause the perpetrator of the horrid deed to confess the crime, before he shall be summoned to appear before that dreadful tribunal to all those "who forget God".

On 18 April 1827, Edward Burton of Shrewsbury died aged 70 in College Hill, Shrewsbury, and the Burton Arms was inherited by his eldest son, Rev Edward Burton of Oxford. This Edward was a theologian and chaplain to the Bishop of Oxford, and in 1829 became regius professor of divinity at Oxford University. Although he was married, he did not have any children.

Burton Arms remained the village inn as evidenced by adverts in 1829 announcing William Phillips as the new occupier, and advertising dinner, dressed by an experienced cook, including a bottle of wine, dessert and waiters. The cost of the post chaise had now risen to sixteen pence per mile.

Thomas Scott

Burton Arms not only provided accommodation for people visiting Llandegley Wells, but also for those travelling on to the coast.

One such person was Rev Benjamin Scott, a vicar in Warwickshire, who was on his way to Aberystwyth in the summer of 1830 with his second wife, who was expecting their first child. Unfortunately, Rev Scott became ill while travelling through the Radnor Hills. They managed to get to Llandegley and came to the inn, but discovered that there was no medical aid within ten miles of the village. However, Mrs Scott happened to meet a retired doctor from Ireland on the stairs, who was also staying at the Burton Arms. Despite the efforts and care of both this doctor, and later the local doctor from Presteigne, Rev Scott died on 13 August 1830. He is buried in St Tecla's Church which is next door to the inn - there is a plaque on the church wall behind the water butt. The full story can be read in The Christian Guardian for 1830.

Information about Benjamin's father (pictured) - Rev Thomas Scott, the author of a commentary on the whole Bible, and the grandfather of the architect George Gilbert Scott - can be found on Wikipedia.

By the summer of 1834 it appears that the Burton Arms had once again been extended, and now offered hot and cold baths:

William Phillips begs to inform his Friends and the Public, that the [Burton Arms] Inn has lately been considerably enlarged and improved, and is now ready for the reception of visitors; and at the same time that he returns thanks for past favours, he hopes to merit a continuance of them by moderate charges, and the utmost attention to the comfort and accommodation of those who may visit his house. There are two Mineral Waters, the one Sulphureous, the other Chalybeate, which are powerful, and much approved of by the Faculty - W.P. provides Hot and Cold baths. A neat Post Chaise kept. Llandegley is distant one stage from Presteign, on the road from thence to Aberystwyth.

During this period of history, Burton Arms was more than just the village inn. It was also the place where the doctor handed out prescribed medicines, and where local auctions were held. One such auction on 13 July 1837 was for ten capital coach horses and harness. The railway did not come to Radnorshire until 1865, so coach and horses was the usual method of transport when going long distance. Some of the guests would have arrived in Llandegley on the Prince of Wales coach, which ran between Cheltenham and Aberystwyth - taking 14 hours to make the journey. This was the golden age of Llandegley Wells, with word of the sulphurous spring reaching London, and various experts coming to perform scientific tests on the waters.

It was also a time of change for the Burton Arms. First, on 19 January 1836, Rev Edward Burton of Oxford died in Ewelme, Oxfordshire, and because he was childless, the Burton Arms was inherited by his brother, Rev Robert Lingen Burton. Second, in 1838, there was a change in landlord, with James Griffiths taking the helm. Third, in 1839, the Burton Arms was put up for sale, along with the mineral springs, Llandegley Mill, two farms and Pound House (which was occupied by John James at the time):

Lot 2. A very valuable and highly picturesque Estate, in and surrounding the village of Llandegley, in the very improving neighbourhood of Penybont, and through which the Radnor and Penybont Turnpike Road runs, consisting of a first rate Inn and Bathing House, called the Burton Arms, and the celebrated Mineral Water, called Llandegley Spa, and three Farms in a ring fence, containing together by admeasurement 286A, 3R, 28P or thereabouts, called respectively Vronlace, the Inn Farm, and Tynllan, all of which have very valuable and extensive rights of Common on Radnor Forest, which bear an additional value from the circumstance that the whole estate abuts upon the Forest at a most convenient and beautiful place. And also a Water Corn Mill, called Llandegley Mill, and a Cottage called the Pound House.

Mr Griffiths was not afraid of marketing what he had to offer. The inn is described in the press as a "Commercial Inn and Boarding House", a "Hotel" and a "Posting and Bathing House on the Great Turnpike". Quotes include "the accommodations at the Burton Arms are excellent", "the worthy host is indefatigable" and "a first rate inn and bathing house". The village is described as "Llandegley Spas, with chalybeate and sulphurous mineral springs" and the inn being "amidst beautiful and romantic scenery and the most salubrious atmosphere". The mineral springs are described as "these powerful, safe, and efficacious waters contain all the valuable properties of the most celebrated springs for the speedy cure of all scorbutic and cutaneous disorders, relaxation of the stomach, gravel and stone, and all chronic disorders, the nervous system, etc." Mr Griffiths obviously had great aspirations for the inn and the spa, for in an 1841 advert he refers to "high and flattering testimonials."

As well as a daily mail coach service, there is a Sovereign London and Worcester Coach every other day bringing visitors to Llandegley. Two of these visitors are listed in the 1841 census, along with five servants:

  • James Griffiths - aged 40, innkeeper
  • Maria Griffiths - aged 35
  • Harriet Newman - aged 15, servant
  • Benjamin Crump - aged 35, servant
  • David Jones - aged 15, servant
  • Elizabeth Ingram - aged 15, servant
  • Ann James - aged 25, servant
  • Mary Stanly - aged 40, independent
  • Elizabeth Stanly - aged 75, independent

Mr and Mrs Griffiths probably needed these servants, as (according to the 1840s tithe maps) they were farming 42 acres of land (18 arable, 15 pasture and 9 meadow), and paid £2 9s 1d in rent to the vicar. On the land were the stables (which are on the other side of the road to the Inn, and are now half demolished), the barn (which is now owned by Tynllan), and of course the spa. The land also surrounded Llandegley Mill.

In 1843, some prankster used the good name of Mr Griffiths to get a fake marriage announcement included in the Hereford Journal:

The statement of the marriage of Mr. Jones, of the Carney, to Miss Harriet Nunam (a girl of tender years) published last week, was the fabrication of some cruel and heartless person, who in order to get it inserted subscribed the name of Mr. Griffiths, of the Burton Arms, Llandegley, to his letter. We have forwarded the manuscript to Mr. Griffiths.

By 1844 the aspirations of Mr Griffiths seem not to have dimmed, as his adverts now mention "additional accommodation" (almost certainly internal changes) and "hot, cold and shower sulphur baths on the shortest notice." However, the Sovereign London and Worcester Coach was now running only every other day, probably due to the increasing use of railways instead of coach and horses as the preferred method of long distance travel.

In 1845, a railway was proposed from Kington to Rhayader through Llandegley, but this was never built. Instead, 20 years later, a railway was built from Knighton to Llandrindod, which would help seal the fate of Llandegley Spa and the Burton Arms.

On 12 March 1847, James Griffiths died aged 51. The following is an excerpt from a family notice in the Hereford Times announcing his passing:

After a lingering illness, borne with Christian fortitude and resignation, in his 52nd year, Mr. James Griffiths, of the Burton Arms Inn, Llandegley, Radnorshire. His mild temper and kind disposition endeared him to his family and friends, by whom he is sincerely regretted, and obtained for him the universal respect of all who knew him.

Thanks to Mr Griffiths, the Burton Arms had a very good reputation. Here is an extract from "Cliffe's Book of South Wales, Bristol Channel, Monmouthshire, and The Wye" published in 1848:

About two miles and a half further on is Llandegley, where there is a much frequented Spa. One spring is a strong chalybeate, the other is powerfully impregnated with sulphur. The hamlet contains an excellent little Inn, "The Burton Arms." On the north-east is the lofty group of mountains called Radnor Forest, one of which is 2,163 feet high. There is some fine rock scenery near Llandegley, from which beautiful spar can be obtained.

James' wife Maria continued to run the inn, and was joined in 1848 by her new husband Thomas Griffiths Esq (a surgeon from London) who she married on 5 July, spending their honeymoon at the Gogerddan Arms Royal Hotel in Aberystwyth. Unfortunately, the marriage was very shortlived as Maria died less than three months later of consumption.

1848 also saw a change in ownership of the Burton Arms, when Rev Robert Lingen Burton of Ford, Shropshire finally sold the inn (after putting it on the market 9 years earlier) to John Owens (farmer) of Trewern, Llandegley. Also sold was Vronlace, Tynllan and Llandegley Mill, together with timber, minerals, spa, and other waters.

It seems that Thomas Griffiths no longer wished to be an innkeeper after his wife's death (or possibly after the change in ownership) as on 10 March 1849 the following advert appears in the Hereford Journal:

Proprietor, Mr. Griffiths, to announce the sale of the whole of the valuable furniture and effects, upon the premises, at The Burton Arms Inn, Llandegley, on the 20th of March instant, and following days.

The following week, an advert in the Hereford Times announced the retirement of Thomas Griffiths:

Burton Arms Inn, Llandegley, Radnorshire.

Live and dead stock, implements of husbandry, household furniture, and effects.

John Wilson, of Kington, begs to make known that he is instructed by Mr. T. Griffiths, who is retiring from business, to offer for unreserved sale by auction, upon the premises, at The Burton Arms Inn, Llandegley, on Tuesday the 20th day of March, 1849, and following days,

The whole of the modern mahogany and oak furniture, for the dining, drawing, and bedrooms complete, culinary and domestic requisites, excellent plant of brewing utensils, farming stock, implements in husbandry and effects, - comprising marble-slab hall table, dining, card, loo, and occasional tables, hair-seated, sedge-bottom, Windsor, and other chairs, hair-clothed mahogany sofa, brass and other fenders, sets of polished fire-irons, circular-faced barometer, eight-day clock, portraits and landscapes in gilt and other frames, four-post, tent, and other bedsteads (with chintz and dimity furnitures), ten very superior goose-feather beds, and general chamber requirements, carpets, hearth-rugs, settle, copper and other stewpans, kettles, pots, saucepans, block-tin dish covers, sets of china, dinner services, cut glass, earthenware in great variety, three-tap beer engine and piping (nearly new, with complete bar appointments), bacon cratch, about sixty stone of home-cured bacon, shower bath, iron meat safe, and every domestic requisite for a respectable establishment.

The brewing utensils are numerous and in excellent condition, and include very superior malting and working tabs, cooling vats, casks of various sizes, trams, washing tubs, water cart, a lead pump, several benches, etc.

The dairy effects consist of milk leads, cheese press, butter trinds, vats, scales and weights, and other necessary articles, and deserving notice.

The farming stock is three in-calf cows, barren ditto, six steers, twenty-one ewes in lamb, one ram, two pigs, one very powerful bay gelding, six years old; one ditto mare, in foal; one capital hack mare, steady in harness; four hill ponies, gig and set of harness, saddles, bridles, gearing, narrow-wheel waggon, broad-wheel cart, gambo, two ploughs, harrows, wheelbarrow, straw-cutter, a quantity of prime white oats, and the usual routine of agricultural tools.

The farming stock, implements, etc, with a portion of the furniture, will be sold on the first day, and the remaining portion on subsequent days.

The sale to commence at twelve o'clock each day.

In the end, it took over a year to sell the contents of the Burton Arms - there can't have been much of a market for goose-feather beds and Spanish mahogany furniture - as evidenced by this advert in the Hereford Journal on 6 March 1850:

...numerous other effects, which will sold by auction, by John Wilson, on Monday and Tuesday, the 18th and 19th of March, 1850, the Burton Arms Inn, Llandegley, by direction of the proprietor, Mr. T. Griffiths, who is leaving the above premises.

On 1 June 1850 the Hereford Times announced that Thomas Alford was the new proprietor of the Burton Arms Commercial Inn and Boarding House, and the 1851 census shows the occupiers of the inn to be:

  • Thomas Alford - aged 51, innkeeper
  • Sarah Alford - aged 47, wife
  • Mary Anne Alford - aged 23, daughter
  • Francis Bailey - aged 69, visitor
  • John Evans - aged 20, ostler
  • Mary Webb - aged 31, house servant

Thomas Alford only lasted two years - in 1852, Philip James Junior took over:

Llandegley Spas, Sulphurous and Chalybeate Springs, "Burton Armts" Commercial Inn and Boarding House, delightfully situated on the Mail road from Knighton to Aberystwith.

Philip James, Jun., having entered upon the above premises, begs to announce that he has made such arrangements for the comfort of his guests as he hopes will secure to him the patronage of parties wishing to avail themselves of those far-famed Mineral Waters, and is determined to combine Moderate Charges with the most Assiduous Attention, keeping none but the best Wines, Spirits, Malt and other Liquors. Excellend bedrooms and private sitting rooms. Mail and other Coaches pass daily. Cards of Terms will be forwarded on application.

Less than two years later, in January 1854, Philip James Junior moved to the Severn Arms in Penybont, and his father - also called Philip James - became the new landlord:

Royal Oak Inn - Farewell Supper - On Friday evening last, about sixty friends of Mr. Philip James, the respected landlord of this old-established inn, invited him to a supper on the occasion of his being about to remove to the Burton Arms Inn, Llandegley Wells; his son, who occupies this house, having taken the Severn Arms Hotel, Penybont. A highly respectable company sat down to an excellent repast; and after the removal of the cloth, the healths of Mr. and Mrs. James were given by the chairman, amidst enthusiastic cheering. Mr. James returned thanks in a brief but feeling address, for himself and worthy partner; he could not adequately state how he felt the kindness uniformly manifested towards them during a sojourn of upwards of twenty years. The harmony and conviviality of the meeting was kept up to a late hour.

Philip James Senior did not stay very long either - in 1856 the Burton Arms was advertised as to let, although Mr James did not leave until 1859:

Burton Arms Inn and Boarding House, Llandegley Wells, Radnorshire. To be let, and entered upon at Lady-day next, the above Inn, with or without about 13 acres of land; the coming-in tenant will be required to take to the fixtures at a valuation. For particulars apply on the premises, or to Mr. John Owens, Trewern, Llandegley. Satisfactory reasons will be given for the present tenant giving up.

The Burton Arms, as well as being an inn, was also put to a variety of local uses. For example, in September 1857 it was the location of an inquest, where the owner John Owens seems to have a conflict of interest:

Llandegley - Sudden Death - An inquest was held on Friday, at the Burton Arms, before R. Wood, Esq., Coroner, and a respectable jury (Mr. John Owens, Trewern, foreman), on the body of Edward Parton, mason, late of Kington, in his 70th year. It appeared from the evidence that the deceased went to work as usual on Tuesday morning, the 1st of September, in building a mill for Mr. John Owens, Trewern, apparently in a perfect state of health, but had not been long at work when he fell on the floor of the building. He was assisted up by others employed on the works, but life was quite extinct. The jury returned a verdict of "Died by the visitation of God."

In 1859 there was yet another change of innkeeper, indicated by two newspaper adverts, the first on 26 February 1859 announcing an "auction of prime well-conditioned furniture" and the second on 12 March 1859 announcing an "auction of the remaining portion of household furniture and effects", and an article in the Hereford Times on 16 April 1859:

The Licenses the Burton Arms Inn, Llandegley, were transferred from Mr. Philip James to Mr. Edward Jones, of Llanfihangel Nantmelan

Visitors were still coming to Llandegley for the mineral spring in 1860. "A Handbook for Travellers in South Wales and its Borders, Including the River Wye" contains this information:

On the opposite descent lies Llandegley, and near it a strong sulphur spring, much frequented during the summer for drinking and bathing (Inn: Burton Arms). Near the churchyard is a singular range of rocks abounding in quartz crystals.

On 17 October 1860, Edward Jones' daughter Elizabeth married William Ingram at Llandegley by the Rev Llewellyn (vicar), and the 1861 census shows them to be running the Burton Arms, Edward having died:

  • William Ingram - aged 38, innkeeper and mason employing 6 men
  • Elizabeth Ingram - aged 30, innkeeper's wife
  • Elizabeth Jones - aged 11, neice, scholar
  • Susanna Daves - aged 20, domestic servant
  • Elizabeth Jones - aged 65, visitor, widow, retired innkeeper

William Ingram became the sixth landlord in the 13 years since the death of James Griffiths, and the aspirations of Mr Griffiths to run a high-class establishment with goose-feather beds seem to be now somewhat diminished, with just one servant in residence.

In 1865 the railway station at Llandrindod Wells opened. Together with the enclosure of the common in 1862, which enabled the construction of new streets, hotels, shops and houses in Llandrindod Wells, this accelerated the demise of Llandegley Spa, and the Burton Arms. No adverts for either the spa or the inn appeared in the 1860s and 1870s, the inn seeming content to put up travellers whose destination was further into Wales.

In the 1871 census, the Ingrams are still occupying the inn, now with two servants and a lodger:

  • William Ingram - aged 49, innkeeper
  • Elizabeth Ingram - aged 40, innkeeper
  • Richard Ingram - aged 80, father, widower, mason
  • Mary Ann McNabb - aged 11, niece, scholar
  • Tryphena Lloyd - aged 19, dairy maid
  • John Rees - aged 13, farm servant indoor
  • David Davies - aged 40, lodger, farm labourer

Despite the railway opening, there were still coaches running along the main road, taking both tourists to see the sights and also locals. A traveller in 1875 describes a new coach service from Llandrindod to Kington:

We change horses at the village of Llandegley, at the Burton Arms Inn and Boarding House, for here are sulphur and chalybeate springs, and public baths, visitors, and all the rest of it, only on a small scale, the Burton being a Pump House hotel of very diminutive proportions. Over the door is suspended a flag of red, white, and blue, bearing the motto, "Success to the coach." Barely three minutes are occupied in changing horses.

But Llandegley Spa was "utterly neglected" according to the Yorskhire Post in 1876:

Llandegley has a big hill, and poor land below it, and is quite out of the way of the railway and all communications, and so the wells close to the little village, though really powerful, are utterly neglected.

The 1870s saw big changes in Llandegley village - the building of a school, the rebuilding of St Tecla's Church, and the building of a new vicarage. In addition, the Burton Arms had a new proprietor, as can be seen from this report following the re-opening of Llandegley Church in December 1876:

A great many attended at the Communion service, after which there was a luncheon at the schoolroom provided by Mr. W. Hughes, of Burton Arms, Llandegley Wells, whose catering gave every satisfaction.

Adverts for the Burton Arms still appeared occasionally in the papers, but were increasingly modest:

Llandegley Wells, Radnorshire. Burton Arms Inn and Boarding-House, two miles from Penybont Station on the Central Wales Railway. Sulphur and Chalybeate Springs, Hot and Cold Bath Rooms, splendid Mountain scenery, combined with Moderate Charges. Anyone seeking retirement and health will do well to give these celebrated waters a fair trial. W. Hughes, Proprietor.

William is still the landlord in 1881, although his children seem to be occupying most of the rooms in the Burton Arms, together with a servant and a boarder:

  • William Hughes - aged 44, innkeeper
  • Adeliza Hughes - aged 43, innkeeper's wife
  • Annie Gertrude Hughes - aged 10, daughter, scholar
  • Martha Louise Hughes - aged 8, daughter, scholar
  • George Lloyd Hughes - aged 6, son, scholar
  • Augusta Sophia Hughes - aged 5, daughter, scholar
  • Adeliza Mary Hughes - aged 3, daughter, scholar
  • Madaline Lloyd Bray - aged 10, boarder, scholar
  • Rose Hannah Bright - aged 18, general servant

Llandegley in 1889

Ordnance Survey map of 1889 showing Llandegley village (click to show larger version).

Burton Arms Inn is the L-shaped building directly to the east of St Tecla's Church. The long building directly to the north of the inn is the stables that once belonged to the inn.

The sulphur spring is in field 847 to the north of the village - the spa building is visible on the map to the north of the centre of the field. A footpath leads from the stables to the sulphur spring. Another footpath leads to Llandegley Mill, where the chalybeate spring was possibly located.

Llandegley School is to the north of the church, and the new vicarage is outside the village to the north-west.

The inn was also the location of one of the village wells - see field 965.

By 1891 there was a new proprietor of the Burton Arms, as shown in the census. This time, there were no servants or guests mentioned:

  • Charles Daniel Norton - aged 31, innkeeper and farmer
  • Annie Matilda Norton - aged 24
  • Emily M Norton - aged 5, daughter, scholar
  • Lilian E Norton - aged 3, daughter
  • Ella M Norton - aged 1, daughter
  • James B Norton - aged 17, brother

Charles was a dab hand at breeding pigs - this is from the Penybont show in 1892:

Class 38, - Best sow of any breed, 1, £2, G D Norton, Burton Arms, Llandegley

However, at some point between 1892 and 1894 the Burton Arms shut its doors to the last paying guest, and became a private residence called Burton House. The new occupier, as mentioned in the 1895 Kelly's Directory was Thomas Lewis Wishlade, the county road surveyor. In 1881, Thomas had married Mary Jane Watkins of Vronlace, Llandegley. Mary's mother was Margaret Owens, who was the daughter of the John Owens who had purchased the Burton Arms back in 1848, so the ownership of the inn remained in the Owens/Watkins family, as it would continue to do for another 110 years until it was eventually sold in 2006.

This brings to a close the 19th century, a hundred years that saw the rise and fall of Llandegley Spa, and of the Burton Arms Inn.

20th Century

The 1901 census confirms the new occupiers of Burton House:

  • Thomas L Wishlade - aged 52, road surveyor
  • Mary J Wishlade - aged 41, wife
  • Thomas W Wishlade - aged 17, son
  • Mary J Wishlade - aged 60, sister
  • Gordon Cave - aged 13, nephew
  • Annie M Jones - aged 15, visitor
  • Jessie M Jones - aged 13, visitor
  • Thomas H Cowles - aged 15, domestic groom
  • Sarah A Davies - aged 19, general domestic servant

By 1910, the Wishlades had moved to Swydd Cottage in Llandegley, and Burton House was occupied by Mary Jane's nephew and neice, as mentioned in both the 1910 Kelly's Directory and the 1911 census:

  • Richmond William Watkins - aged 24, farmer
  • Lilian Mary Watkins - aged 28, sister, housekeeper

Richmond married Ethel Mary Brown in 1926 and the couple lived at Burton House until they died in 1966 and 1978 respectively. They had four children - Joseph (born 1927), Roger William (born 1929), Dorothy Mary (born 1931), and Rosemary Jane (born 1942). Roger married and initially lived in Burton House before moving up to Vronlace. Dorothy married and subsequently moved away. But Joe and Rosemary continued to live in Burton House.

From at least 1957 until it closed in 1982, Llandegley Post Office operated out of one of the rooms in Burton House. During this time, the phone number for Burton House was Penybont 261, and the phone number for Llandegley Post Office was Penybont 205.

In 1990, Roger William Watkins inherited Burton House plus 42 acres (which were previously held in trust after the death of Richmond William Watkins). Almost immediately, Roger gifted the house, the garden (which was across the road) and the mineral springs to his wife Una.

When Joe Watkins died in 1991, Rosemary was left living alone in Burton House, which was by this time starting to show its age - it still had no heating, was damp, and was being affected by both woodworm and death watch beetle.

On 8 November 1993, Burton House was Grade II Listed, with the following listing text:

Lies adjacent to A44 in centre of village, 30 metres E of the Parish Church and abutting the churchyard.

History: C17 origins with substantial additions of early C19 when it became The Burton Arms (named after its proprietor Edward Burton of Shrewsbury). Popular coaching inn on the London to Aberystwyth toll-road throughout the C19 and frequented also by visitors to the two medicinal springs in what was then known as Llandegley Wells. By 1895 it had reverted to private dwelling, renamed Burton House, occupied by Thomas Wishlade, County Surveyor. A post office was held in a front room of the house in post-war years.

Exterior: Two storeys with cellar. L-plan, incorporating in the NW section the body of a C17/C18 house with substantial square-panel timber-framing and in the NE section the principal rooms of the early C19 hotel. Coursed rubble stone (overpainted), a break in the stonework can be seen from the churchyard side and marks the line of the C19 rear additions. Deep boxed eaves, slate roof, hipped to front portion. Two stacks with brick uppers. Front (E) door is hinged vertically with two tall glazed panels and small overlight. Simple leaded canopy porch on cast-iron columns. Three further exterior doors, all boarded and battened with thumb latches. Remarkably complete set of early C19 windows, all with chamfered timber mullions and small iron-framed panes with opening casements. The larger windows also have transoms. Front windows have cambered stone voussoir heads and timber cills, side windows have cambered brick heads.

Interior: Fairly complete period interior. Front parlour and dining room with dado rails, remnants of matchboarded dado and, in left-hand room, an elaborate C19 marble fireplace. Stairs with plain turned newel, stick balusters and boarded underside. Small parlour with two boxed beams, fireplace and panelled alcove cupboard. Kitchen, dairy, pantry and small former tap room occupy the older portion of the building and sections of the timber-framed partitions are visible. Flag floors throughout and large chamfered and scroll-stopped beams. Kitchen range with mantel shelf and spit racks above. Dairy with salting slab. Beyond in C19 addition are store rooms and back kitchen with range, copper and bread oven, and back stairs. Six-panel doors to front portion, boarded doors to rear. Early C19 fireplace surround with moulded mantel shelf in first-floor bedroom. C19 pegged king-post roof trusses. One truss of the earlier building survives, a plain tie-beam truss with diagonal braces.

Forecourt railings along E and N sides, plain hooped top design by Alexander and Duncan of Leominster.

A remarkably well-preserved and attractive domestic building in a good location adjoining the churchyard.

21st Century

In 2001, a planning application was submitted to build a property in the garden of Burton House - a piece of land on the opposite side of the A44. The property was subsequently built, and Rosemary Watkins moved out of Burton House into the new house, which was named Burton Villa. Burton House was then put up for sale, with just under 1 acre of land. This marked the end of the ownership of Burton House by the Watkins family.

Burton House was sold in 2006 to a couple in the Navy. Over the next 5 years, a comprehensive restoration and refurbishment of the house was carried out, including stabilisation of the external wall of the original 1706 building, demolition of part of the building which was in imminent danger of collapse, insulating and relaying all the ground floor, damp proofing, rewiring, replastering, installation of central heating, and reconstruction of several of the external doors.

Although Burton House was now a comfortable house to live in, many original features have survived. For example, the windows (some of which date back to the early 19th century), two coal-fired ranges in the kitchen dating from the early and mid 20th century, 19th century fireplaces in the dining room and two of the bedrooms, the hand operated water pump in the back kitchen dating from the early 20th century, the slate bath that was probably used in the 19th century and the large copper that was used to heat the water for it, a bread oven of uncertain date (probably 19th century), several original doors (one of which is possibly 18th century), as well as original beams, flagstone slate floors, alcove cupboards, and window seats.

Unfortunately, during the restoration, the owners parted and Burton House was once more put up for sale. In 2014 we purchased the house and are continuing to carefully restore it, as well as preserving Burton House for future generations.

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