Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Shimdda Hir/Craigside Inn

Looking down at Craigside Inn/Shimdda Hir in 2006 (Photo Credit)

Situated on the coast road into Llandudno, many people do not realise that the popular Craigside Inn was originally a house called Shimdda Hir (sometimes spelt Simdda Hir or Simdde Hir, which is Welsh for 'Long Chimneys'*), built by an interesting character called Hugh Mulleneux Walmsley, (1826 - 1879) who described himself as a Colonel in the Imperial Ottoman Army. In 1864 he wrote Llandudno As It Is (having earlier written books about soldiering in Algeria). He appears to have been quite a prolific author, with these being a few of the titles he has written:

Branksome Dene: A Sea Tale (1872)
The ruined cities of Zululand (1869)
Ruined cities of Zululand: Volume 2 (1869)
Zulu land;: Its wild sports and savage life (1879)
The Chasseur D'Afrique (1864)
Journal Of A Bashi Bazouk (1857)
The Life Guardsman (1871)
Life Of Sir Joshua Walmsley (1879)

His best known work is probably:
Sketches of Algeria during the Kabyle War (1858)
which, somewhat amazingly, is still in print today:

There's also a suggestion that his work formed the inspiration for a more famous novel, namely King Solomon's Mines by Rider Haggard.

Before Mulleneux Walmsley bought the Estate, Shimdda Hir was originally a ten acre holding at the eastern farmlands of Bodafon township. It first appeared in written records in 1792 and was occupied by Owen Thomas. In the mid-ninteenth century the property was owned by Llanrwst solicitor William Griffiths and let to Ann Jones who farmed there with her two daughters. In 1843 the elder daughter, Mary, married Eglwysbach sawyer, John Jones and the couple took over the farm lease. Before the main house was built, there was a farmhouse on the site. It appears that the farmhouse was remodelled to give the appearance of a 'Gentleman's Residence'.

Over the years, the estate has varied in size from 10 to 30 acres but all of the land and buildings are now in separate ownership.The Shimdda Hir cottages were originally built in 1880 as staff accommodation, for the coachman and gardener respectively.

In 1907, a metal strapped wooden box was found 30 inches down in scree across the road from Shimdda Hir. In it were 500 Roman coins, dating from 287-293, a period when Mausaeus Carausius was Emperor of Britain.

After Hugh Mulleneux Walmsley died in 1879, I believe the estate passed into the hands of the Holden family, who owned it for several generations. Their ownership came to an end on the 19th March 1970, when the original Shimdda Hir estate is broken up, with the main house & stable block being sold by Enid Margaret Holden to 'The Congregation of the Sisters of St.Mary of Namur' but Miss Holden retains ownership of Nos 1 and 2 Shimdda Hir Cottages.

The nuns renamed the main house St. Mary's Convent and stayed there until 4th September 1984, when they sold the the main house & stable block to a Peter Raymond Smith, who opened the main house as a hotel/restaurant named 'Le Manoir'. This did not appear to have been a great success, as it was only two years later that Mr. Smith sold the property on and it then passed to the brewers/hoteliers Whitbread PLC, who converted it into the Craigside Inn we see today. The 12 acres of limestone grassland across the road from the Craigside Inn were also owned by the Holden family and were donated to the North Wales Wildlife Trust in 1994 upon the death of Miss Holden.

During 2009, the building underwent an extensive refurbishment and extension scheme, with a whole new accommodation wing being built to the right of the existing building.

Craigside Inn during refurbishment in 2009 (Photo Credit)

There's also a mention on the Coflein website of a Formal Garden:

"This garden is depicted on the Second Edition Ordnance Survey 25-inch map of Caernarvonshire II, sheet 14 (1900). The main element shown on that map is a formal garden there is also a possible second formal garden. C.H. Nicholas, RCAHMW, 10th August 2006."

Many people comment upon the massive old withered tree that grows by the side of the driveway, its very old, maybe even dates back to the building of the house. I'm pleased to say that I contributed in a small way to its survival - when work began on the renovation and extension in 2009, I was concerned it was going to be cut down, so I contacted the Tree Officer at Conwy Council and he agreed to serve a Tree Preservation Order upon it.

Shimdda Hir/Craigside Inn in 2010 (Photo Credit)

Looking down at Shimdda Hir/Craigside Inn in 2011 (Photo Credit)

* - In his comment on this post Huw Waters mentions that "the reason for difference in spellings regarding simdda/shimdda is that 's' and 'i' together in Welsh often tend towards an English 'sh' sound. The h was probably introduced into the word simdda to emphasize the sound 'sh' for non Welsh speakers."


Oswald said...

Nice new title for this blog, I must admit. Any chance of including Blackpool and making it The four towns blog?
We could go into partnership.....I could be the Editor and you the photographer.
I can just feel money making ventures in my bones......and office chicks.....we'll get some office chicks.....

Huw Waters said...

Some information regarding the original name.

The Welsh meaning means long chimney. The reason for different in spellings regarding simdda/shimdda is that 's' and 'i' together in Welsh often tend towards an English 'sh' sound. The h was probably introduced into the word simdda to emphasize the sound 'sh' for non Welsh speakers.

You will also find information about this place with the spelling 'simdde hir'. In the area on the east side of river Conwy, is where you'll typically find boundary between north west and north east Welsh dialects and accents. For the Gwynedd branch the 'a' sound is more prominent. For the Powys Fadog/north east the tendency is towards an elongated 'e' sound.

E.g. Abergele should technically be Abergelau. Dinerth may originate from Din-arth.

Chameleon said...

Many thanks for that info, Huw. I will add some of it into the post itself, if that is ok with you.


Anonymous said...

Ye, no problem.

Huw Waters said...

I'll point out another example with the s+i and sh.

Outside Cardiff is Llanishen in its English spelling and Llanisien in Welsh.

Mr Benn said...

Some interesting history there. Had a meal with friends at the Inn. Good value for money and lots of special deals.

Unknown said...

Is this place haunted?? Stsyed thete a few nights ago and me and girlfreind saw a little girl and heard footsteps

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