Middleton Hall (Carmarthenshire)
|Middleton Hall: the Palladian garden front in 1900.|
|Middleton Hall: the entrance front, depicted in a print of 1853.|
The interior introduced a more contemporary neo-classical style, with varied room shapes including an apsed staircase hall set at right-angles to the the entrance hall and a round bedroom over the entrance hall. The entrance hall itself had Classical trophies of arms in plaster on the walls and giant fluted pilasters, while the dining room had neo-classical arcading with antique-style grisaille panels.
|Middleton Hall: the dining room, from a Victorian photograph|
The grounds were landscaped at much the same time as the house was built to the designs of Samuel Lapidge, and a series of watercolours by Thomas Hornor was commissioned in 1814 to record the grounds once they had grown into maturity. Hornor's views show an eminently picturesque, almost gardenesque, layout.
|Middleton Hall: a view of the grounds by Thomas Hornor, 1814.|
The house stood on an eminence looking down over a chain of lakes to the west and south. To its north was a detached service block (which survives as Principality House) and further north was a large stable court, also by Cockerell except for the rear range, which was built after 1824. To the north-west are the very large walled gardens which helped to make the site suitable for its current use as the National Botanic Garden of Wales. The house itself was burnt down in 1931 (it is said that leaves in the lake from which firemen drew water clogged their hoses and prevented the body of the house being saved, although the outbuildings were spared destruction); the ruins were demolished in 1954. The park was then acquired as smallholdings land by the County Council and subdivided. The National Botanic Garden was created in 1996-2000 with some £44m of Lottery and other funding, and has allowed the rescue of the surviving buildings and garden features and the restoration of the designed landscape. Various new buildings have been erected around the site, including the Great Glasshouse by Norman Foster & Partners, built in 1997-99.
|Paxton's Tower on Middleton Hall estate. Photo © David Evans|
Half a mile south of the house stands Paxton's Tower, a monumental triangular folly tower, visible as an eyecatcher for miles along the Tywi valley. It was built in 1808 by S.P. Cockerell for Sir William Paxton as a memorial to Lord Nelson. As built, there was a banqueting room inside with Gothic plaster vaulting, of which only fragments remain. The tower was bought in 1964 by Viscount Emlyn and presented to the National Trust, but was badly damaged by lightning before being well-restored in 1972, with an inserted staircase.
Descent of the property: Henry Middleton (fl. 1644); to son, Christopher Middleton (fl. 1668); to son, Richard Middleton (d. c.1733); to son, Henry Middleton (dsp); to sister, Elizabeth Middleton (d. 1756), wife of Thomas Gwyn (d. 1752) of Gwempa; to son, Richard Gwyn (fl. 1761); to son, Lt-Gen. Francis Edward Gwyn (1748-1821); sold 1776 to John Gawler; sold 1776 to Sir William Paxton, kt. (1744-1824); executors sold 1824 to Edward Hamlin Adams (1777-1842); to son, Edward Adams (later Abadam) (1809-75); to daughter, Lucy Caroline Adams Abadam (1840-1902), wife of Rev. Richard Gwynne Lawrence (c.1835-1923); to sister, Adah Constance Abadam (1842-1914), widow of Capt. John Williams Hughes (1845-88); to son, William John Hamlin Hughes (1879-1941), who sold 1919 to Col. W.N. Jones of Dyffryn, Ammanford.
The Abadams (formerly Adams) of Middleton Hall
|Wax portrait of E. H. Adams|
Image: V&A Museum
|Edward Abadam (1809-75)|
Abadam, Adah Constance (1842-1914). Eldest legitimate daughter of Edward Abadam (1809-75) and his wife Louisa, daughter of John Taylor of Weymouth, tailor, born 4 March 1842 and baptised 24 April 1844. She married, 30 July 1878, Capt. John Williams Hughes (1845-88), farmer, of Glandulais, Llangathen, son of Capt. William Garnons Hughes (1801-78) of Glancothi (Carmarthens) and had issue:
(1) William John Hamlin Hughes (1879-1941) (q.v.);
(2) Evodie Constance Vernon Hughes (1882-1925), born Apr-June 1882; lived at Clearbrook, Llanarthney; died unmarried, 14 June 1925; will proved 7 July 1925 (estate £3,264);
(3) Charles Williams Hughes (1883-1951) of Dial House, Lamphey (Pembs); farmer in Britannia, Saskatchewan (Canada), 1906-23; married, c.1913 in Saskatchewan, Minnie Hewitt (1892-1973) and had issue one son and two daughters; died 12 September 1951; will proved 27 October 1951 (estate £456).
She inherited Middleton Hall from her sister in 1902.
She died 16 May 1914. Her husband died 23 January 1888; administration of his goods was granted to his widow, 15 May 1888 (effects under £650).
(1) John Adams Gwynne Hughes (b. 1913);
(2) William Henry Gwynne Hughes.
On the death of his mother in 1914 he inherited Middleton Hall (Carmarthens), which he sold in 1919 to Col. William N. Jones. He then rented Sibton Abbey (Suffolk), c.1923, and subsequently emigrated to South Africa.
He died in Underburg, Natal (South Africa), 10 April 1941; administration of his property was granted to his elder son, 27 July 1942 (estate in England £10,452).
SourcesBurke's Landed Gentry, 1871; Marquis de Ruvigny, The Plantagenet Roll of the Blood Royal, reprinted, 2001; T. Nicholas, Annals and Antiquities of the County Families of Wales, reprint, 1991; F. Green, ‘Saunders of Pentre, Tymawr and Glanrhydw’, Trans. Hist. Soc. West Wales, ii, 1913; Conrad Davies, 'The Adams family of Middleton Hall, Llanarthne', The Carmarthenshire Antiquary, 38 (2002), 36-52; Thomas Lloyd, Julian Orbach and Robert Scourfield, The buildings of Wales: Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion, (2006), 233-5; L.A. Rees, Middleton Hall, Carmarthenshire, 2014; http://awtc.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/igm.cgi?op=AHN&db=isanders&id=I01273&ti=5538; http://www.dictionaryofarthistorians.org/pagetv.htm
Location of archives
Paget, Violet (Vernon Lee) (1856-1935): correspondence, 20th cent. [Somerville College, Oxford]
Revision and acknowledgements
This post was first published 19 February 2013 and was revised 18 February 2015, 27 July 2015, 6 February 2016 and 6 June 2017. I am grateful to Jack Ruler for supplying the image of Edward Abadam.