Holiday houses with history
Holiday houses with history: Borth Arian
We have such a great variety of properties in our portfolio, from modern apartments to character houses with history. We love what brings each house to life and makes it a great location for a holiday – whether it be the spectacular sea view, fantastic setting or even its interesting past.
Sophie Glanville, Rhoscolyn resident, recently brought the history of her parents’ holiday home, which is also in Rhoscolyn and let by Menai Holidays, to our attention.
The history behind the man who designed and owned Borth Arian
excerpts from an article written by Sophie Clark
Sir Leslie Patrick Abercrombie is known as one of the most celebrated town planners of the twentieth century; a British architect and town planner best known for the re-planning of London after it was devastated by enemy bombardment in World War II. Sir Patrick was born on the 6th of June, 1879, in Ashton upon Mersey, Cheshire (now in Greater Manchester) and died March 23, 1957. He is buried at St Gwenfaen's church, Rhoscolyn, Anglesey.
The son of a Manchester stockbroker, Abercrombie was one of nine children. His younger brother, Lascelles Abercrombie, became a noted poet and critic. Patrick was educated at Uppingham School and apprenticed to architects in Manchester and Liverpool for six years before joining the staff of the University of Liverpool in 1907, where he later became a professor of civic design from 1915 to 1935. Early in his career, Abercrombie earned notice as the first editor of Town Planning Review and co winner (with Sydney and Arthur Kelly) of an international competition to redesign Dublin in 1916. After this award-winning design, Abercrombie continued to assert his dominance as an architect of international renown.
During the postwar years, Sir Patrick was commissioned by the British government to redesign Hong Kong. In 1956 he was commissioned by Haile Selassie to draw up plans for the capital of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa. He is known to have toured Australia and other counties, giving lectures in his field.
Patrick Abercrombie was knighted in 1945. In 1948 he became the first president of the newly formed group the International Union of Architects, or the UIA (Union Internationale des Architectes). The group now annually awards the Sir Patrick Abercrombie Prize, for excellence in town planning. In 1950 he received the AIA Gold Medal. The University of Liverpool's Department of Civic Design also continues to award an Abercrombie Prize annually to its top-performing student. The Abercrombie Building at Oxford Brookes University is home to the Faculty of Technology, Design and Environment.
How and why he came to Rhoscolyn is unclear. But with his love of nature and unspoiled countryside, it's perhaps not too hard to imagine. What is known though, is that he designed and organised the building of the cottage called Borth Arian (Silver Bay). It was often listed as one of his addresses - so it is clear he used the house himself. In the April, 1927 edition of Country Life, Borth Arian is given a write-up and described as one of the 'lesser country houses of to-day'. In the article credit for the architectural success of the cottage is given to both 'Professor' Abercrombie, as well as to the local Welsh workmen who built it - their handiwork is said to include, "subtle qualities of variation such as we in old buildings, before tradition became a bad thing." It ends by saying, "altogether this is a charming creation and it serves to show what can be made of the one-floor house when discernment and good taste go hand-in-hand."
My grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Richard Henson, purchased the cottage in 1958. My grandfather already knew the place from his childhood and had played annual cricket matches there with the Abercrombie and Naish familes for years. Many of the original 'Abercrombie' features remain in Borth Arian to this day, including the cross-vaulted ceiling in what Abercrombie called "the big room" as well as the engraved 'A' in the slate fire-surround, the Abercrombie coat of arms motifs and the stone flower-pots on the entrance posts. The wooden figurehead, that many may remember, (rare because the carving was of a man instead of the ubiquitous female) was donated by my parents, a few years ago, to the Holyhead Maritime Museum. Years of North Welsh coastal weather (and Henson boys throwing darts at it) had left it somewhat diminished.
Borth Arian remains a much-loved family holiday home, and the definitely the most special place in our lives! Approximately 7 years ago extensions were added to create two extra wings. The expansion of the family made this unavoidable! A lot of thought went into retaining the essential essence of the cottage - and hopefully you'll agree that, in the most part, it retained its character. I am convinced it will stay in the family forever - and it makes me happy to think of the generations to come who will enjoy it as much as the rest of us.
Borth Arian sleeps up to 6 guests and accepts pets. Prices start from £595 for a week's stay low season.