Middleton Hall, Llanarthne (Carmarthenshire)
|Middleton Hall: the Palladian garden front in 1900.|
The new 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 (now 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 were the very large walled gardens which helped to make the site suitable for its current use as the National Botanic Garden of Wales. The architecture of the house was very different from the Indian fantasy which Cockerell was to create for his cousin Charles Cockerell (another nabob), at Sezincote (Glos). The garden front is for its date an unusually pure Palladian design, with a pedimented giant Ionic portico and three Palladian windows on the ground floor with super-arches which echo those at Lord Burlington's villa at Chiswick.
|Middleton Hall: view from the entrance hall into the staircase, from a Victorian photograph.|
|Middleton Hall: the dining room, from a Victorian photograph|
|Middleton Hall: view of the house from the approach drive by Thomas Hornor, 1814.|
|Middleton Hall: a view of the grounds by Thomas Hornor, 1814.|
After Paxton's death, his estate was divided between his many children and had to be sold so that they could be paid their respective shares. The purchaser was Edward Hamlin Adams (1777-1842), whose family had been settled in Barbados as planters for several generations, but who trading and banking activities in the Caribbean and America. He moved to England in 1815 and in 1824 bought Middleton Hall, despite having no discernible previous connection with this corner of Wales. The estate descended to his son, Edward Adams (later Abadam) (1809-75), who bequeathed the estate to his eldest (and technically illegitimate) daughter and her husband. They had no children, so on her death it passed to her widowed sister, whose son sold the estate in 1919 to a local industrialist who wanted the land not the house. He put in a pig-keeping caretaker, under whose care the house 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. Only the outbuildings were spared destruction. The ruins of the house stood until they were demolished in 1954.
The estate was acquired in the 1930s by the County Council and subdivided into smallholdings, which survived until the County Council made the estate available as a home for The National Botanic Garden of Wales, which was created in 1996-2000 with some £44m of Lottery and other funding. The Trust's plans for the rescue of the surviving buildings and garden features and the restoration of the designed landscape had to be severely scaled back after it became clear that the revenue from visitors would be much less than hoped, but work continues albeit at a slower pace than intended. As part of the original capital project, several new buildings were erected around the site, including the Great Glasshouse and Gatehouse by Norman Foster & Partners, built in 1997-99. The main historic buildings have also now all been restored.
|Paxton's Tower on Middleton Hall estate. Photo © David Evans|
Abadam (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 at Holy Trinity, St Marylebone, 24 April 1844. She married, 30 July 1878 at Llanarthne, 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, Llanarthne; died unmarried, 14 June 1925; will proved 7 July 1925 (estate £3,264);
(3) Charles Williams Hughes (1883-1951), born 15 July 1883; farmer in Britannia, Saskatchewan (Canada), 1906-23 and lived later at Dial House, Lamphey (Pembs); 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 will was proved 10 October 1914 (estate £736). 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), born in Norfolk, Jul-Sept 1913;
(2) William Henry Gwynne Hughes (b. 1915), born at Middleton Hall, Jul-Sept 1915.
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). His widow may be the woman of that name who died at Lymington (Hants), 26 November 1975; her will was proved 5 February 1976 (estate £741).
Burke'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, p.280; 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; A. Gagel (ed.), Selected letters of Vernon Lee, 2017, vol. 1; 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
Abadam family: estate and family papers, ?19th century [National Library of Wales, uncatalogued archive of D.M.C. Charles of Carmarthen, solicitors]
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, 6 June 2017 and more thoroughly on 26-27 August 2018. I am grateful to Jack Ruler for supplying the image of Edward Abadam.