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Historic and idyllic

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: November 01, 2012

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WHOEVER is lucky enough to buy Nicholaston Hall will not just be getting a wonderful home in an idyllic setting, but also an important piece of Gower history.

No-one knows exactly how old the house is, but records show that there were people living here in the 1500s, and Oliver Cromwell is said to have stabled his horses here in the 1600s.

He is just one of many historic characters that have passed through the doors of Nicholaston Hall.

One of the most colourful was a man who came to be known as Don Santiago Jorge Bynon. The son of a land agent to the Penrice estate, James George Bynon was born at Nicholaston Hall in around 1794.

James was a sickly child and nearly died in infancy but survived and had an astonishing career at sea, giving up a steady job with the East India Company to enlist in the Chilean Navy. He worked his way up from midshipman to captain, admiral and ultimately 'comandante general' of the whole fleet!

The present owner of Nicholaston Hall, Ruth Griffiths, and her daughter Julia have enjoyed researching the past of the house, but they also have a considerable history of their own here.

Ruth and her husband Tudor moved into the house 50 years ago, as the result of an accident of fate.

"Mum was living in Australia and came over to see her sister and met Dad (who was from Neath) in London," explained Julia. "He started looking for a house for them to live in."

The house he found was Nicholaston Hall. Standing at the foot of Cefn Bryn overlooking Oxwich Bay, it was a romantic and beautiful location. The house was in a dilapidated state, however, so he sent over plans on tracing paper to his fiance in Victoria to show how it could be renovated.

"It took years to get it right. I remember for a long time my Dad coming home from work and then starting work on the house," said Julia.

Julia says she and her sister had an idyllic childhood growing up at Nicholaston Hall.

"We used to go exploring and bluebell picking in the woods and have picnics among the primroses. We'd gather holly at Christmas time and go prawning and crabbing down at Oxwich."

Meanwhile, Ruth was working on transforming the overgrown garden.

"I loved gardening and we got it looking lovely," she said. "We always had our fruit from the orchard and picked potatoes from the garden."

Added Julia: "We had ponies in the paddock and we used to raid Mum's veg plot to feed stuff to the horses!

"We used to watch lambs and donkeys being born in the field. Mum was born on a sheep station so if they were sickly she used to put them in a box by the Aga and give them milk to revive them."

Happy memories and a strong attachment to the house that has been their family home for so long.

"After my husband died and the girls moved out, it was much too big for me but it took me two years to decide to sell, because I love the house so much," said Ruth.

The person who becomes the next owner of Nicholaston Hall will get a four bedroomed house with some of loveliest views in Gower across fields to Oxwich Bay and headland.

The house is approached via a long driveway from the main road and stands in one and a half acres of gardens, orchards and an adjoining paddock. Facing south, it also has a wide sun terrace from which to enjoy the views.

The large reception hall, sitting room and dining room all enjoy sea views, as do three of the four bedrooms. A notable attraction is the high, light-filled inner hall and staircase up to the first floor.

The house has many original features like beams, cupboards, doors and open fireplaces and the kitchen has a huge, old Aga stove and red and black quarry tiles on the floor.

Said Julia: "It's a special house and with special memories and it will be very hard to say goodbye."

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