Friday 1 March 2013

(7) Ablett of Llanbedr Hall

Joseph Ablett (d. 1848), descended from a long-established Suffolk yeoman family, purchased Llanbedr Hall in 1804, and subsequently also nearby estates at Plas Coch and Bathafarn (in 1831).  He seems to have built a new house at Llanbedr which was remodelled later, and also to have altered Bathafarn. At his death his estates passed to a cousin, John Jesse, a Manchester surgeon.

Llanbedr Hall (Denbighshire)

Plas Llanbedr is an ancient place of settlement, on the southern flank of the Clwydian hills, a few miles east of Ruthin. It belonged in the 17th and 18th centuries to the Thelwall family, whose house here is recorded in a detailed, if perspectively idiosyncratic, drawing of the late 17th century, perhaps by Thomas Dinely. The house it shows was probably sixteenth and seventeenth century, with a three-storey porch tower in the centre, a single-storey and no doubt older hall to its left, and a service wing beyond that; while to the right of the porch was a two-storey parlour wing with higher ceilings and bigger windows. Around the house was a formal garden with raised terraces and steps down to the lawns in front of the house, while behind the house was an extensive kitchen garden.

Llanbedr Hall: the house in the late 17th century.
By 1805, when the house was recorded by Moses Griffith in a charming watercolour view, the house had been altered, apparently by the replacement of the original hall and service ranges by a new two and two-and-a-half storey range with a hipped roof and sash windows. Indeed, the only readily recognisable feature from the late 17th century drawing is the three-storey porch tower, although even here sash windows had been inserted. 

Llanbedr Hall: detail of the watercolour by Moses Griffith, 1805, showing the hall as remodelled in the 18th century. Image: Thomas Lloyd.
It was probably Joseph Ablett who rebuilt this house as an irregular two-storey classical building, recorded in an engraving of 1844, and who landscaped the grounds around it in the gardenesque fashion recorded in that view; some elements of the landscaping survive today. The maintenance of the gardens is said to have cost £300 a year in the 1830s.

Llanbedr Hall in 1844. © National Library of Wales.  Licenced under a Creative Archive Licence.
The house was badly damaged by fire in 1865 (a previous fire in 1860 had been narrowly prevented from doing major damage) and remodelled or largely rebuilt by Poundley & Walker c.1866-74 for Francis Ablett Jesse or his brother John Fairfax Jesse.  Yellow brick, with some sandstone polychromy and a seaside-looking corner turret.  In 2015 the owner of the house was given permission to demolish it and build nine five-bedroom houses on the site, but it is apparently still standing. 

Llanbedr Hall: the house as remodelled by Poundley & Walker of Liverpool in c.1866-74.

Previous owners: sold 1625 to Robert Thelwall (d. 1638); Edward Thelwall (d. 1688); to Edward Thelwall (d. 1704); to Simon Thelwall (1656-1710); to Edward Thelwall (d. 1733); to Edward Thelwall (d. 1776); to Rev. Edward Thelwall (b. c.1755) who sold c.1804 to Joseph Ablett (c.1773-1848); to widow, Anne Ablett (d. 1854) and then nephew, John Jesse of Manchester, surgeon (1801-63); to son, Francis Ablett Jesse (d. 1869), who leased to Major Rowley; to brother, John Fairfax Jesse (1851-1913), who seems to have leased it; ...sold 1919 to Evan Pierce Williams, who sold 1923 to Hugh Morriston Davies (1879-1965), who sold 1953 to Mr Burnley, who sold 1955 to Robert Douglas McQueen (d. 2001); to Robert Stewart McQueen, who sold 2003 to Roderick Cox.

Bathafarn Hall (Denbighshire)

Bathafarn Hall. © Llewelyn2000.  Licenced under a Creative Commons Licence.

A late 17th or early 18th century seven bay house with solid parapets and segment-headed windows which was remodelled in the early 19th century, and again in the early 20th century.  Lewis' Topographical Dictionary calls it Grecian, but today it is a three bay rendered house with pilasters, a pedimented doorcase and a two-storey segmental bow on the south elevation.  The house was divided into flats by the Smith family after 1952; it remains in their possession.

Descent: sold c.1600 to John Thelwall (d. 1630);...Rev. Robert Carter (later Thelwall) (d. 1788); to daughter Charlotte (1769-97), wife of Lord William Beauclerk (later 8th Duke of St. Albans), who sold 1811 to Rev. Roger Clough; sold 1831 to Joseph Ablett (c.1773-1848); to widow, Anne Ablett (d. 1854) and then nephew, John Jesse of Manchester, surgeon (1801-63); to son, Francis Ablett Jesse (d. 1869); to brother, John Fairfax Jesse (1851-1913), who seems to have leased it; ...sold 1919 to Evan Pierce Williams... sold 1934...sold 1952 to Smith family, who remain owners.

Ablett family of Llanbedr Hall

Ablett, Joseph (c.1772-1848), of Llanbedr Hall (Denbighs).  Born c.1772, the son of Joseph Ablett (d. 1827), a Manchester fustian manufacturer and his wife Margaret Stock, widow of Josiah Fairfax Jesse of Manchester.  His grandfather was William Ablett, gent. of Little Glemham (Suffolk), in which county his ancestors had lived since the 16th century.  Educated at Manchester School (admitted 1783).  He was a JP for Denbighshire and High Sheriff in 1809; in 1826 he contested the Denbigh parliamentary seat in the Whig interest and achieved a tied result, but the House of Commons determined his opponent the victor because of irregularities in the poll.  In 1842 he gave 20 acres of land for the establishment of the North Wales Asylum and he built almshouses at Ruthin (Denbighs).  He was also an eminent book collector, and a friend and financial supporter of figures in the Romantic movement, especially Walter Savage Landor, whom he introduced to Southey and Coleridge in 1832.  In 1837 he published Literary Hours: by various friends.  He married Anne (b. c.1774-1854), eldest daughter of William Bury of Swinton (Lancs), but had no issue.
He purchased Llanbedr Hall (Denbighs) in 1804 and the nearby estates at Plas Coch and Bathafarn in 1831.  At his death his properties passed to his cousin by marriage, John Jesse of Manchester, surgeon.
He died 9 January 1848 aged 75, and his will was proved in the PCC, 16 February 1848.  He is buried in the churchyard of the old church at Llanbedr Dyffyrn Clwyd and commemorated by a monument in the new church. His widow died in 1854.


E. Hubbard, The buildings of Wales: Clwyd, 1986, p. 188, 233-34; Manchester School Register, vol. 2, p. 122; S. Walls, 'Llanbedr Hall and its garden', Bulletin of Welsh Historic Gardens Trust, Summer 2001, pp. 1-3.

Location of archives

Ablett, Joseph (c.1772-1848): miscellaneous correspondence and financial papers, 1770-1840, Denbighshire Archives DD/DM/77.  

Revision and acknowledgements

This post was first published 1 March 2013, and was revised 31 August 2018, 13 December 2020, 10 May, 17 June and 16 July 2021 and 9 March 2022. I am grateful to Ann McQueen for corrections, and to Thomas Lloyd for permission to reproduce the watercolour of 1805.


  1. I live within a few yards of the present hall - it is still standing though becoming ruinous . You are welcome to one of photographs of it for the page if you would like one . Gill Smith

    1. That would be very kind. If you use the contact form on the right hand side of the page to send me your email address, I can send you mine without either of them appearing in the public domain.

  2. Message for Gill Smith did you say on this site that you have a picture of llanbedr hall in Ruthin that use to be a sanatorium? as my grans brother died there on 11th June 1919 of Tb, and as there are no pictures on the internet that I can find I would love to see what it looks like, it was also a quest of my dad to find out more but sadly he passed before he did. You can private message me on fb I am Kathy Young (Kathy Barton) from Cheltenham Thanks

    1. Dear Kathy,

      I saw your message on a page about Llanbedr Hall. My father owned it and I have a photograph if you would like me to email it to you. Please contact me at

      With kind regards,

      Mara Lane

  3. My daughter has recently traced my history, I am linked to the Jesse family and the Pierce family of Denbigh. My great grandmother Sarah Jesse, her brother John Fairfax Jesse and their father John Jesse are buried at Llanbedr church. Looking forward to visiting this summer.....

    1. Sarah Jesse is also my great grandmother, she married Dr Evan Pierce Williams. Dr Evan Pierce Williams was the son of Mary Pierce whose brother was Dr Evan Pierce....

  4. As the wife of Robert S McQueen I want to correct a couple of errors in your history of Llanbedr Hall. 1) Burnley sold to Robert Douglas McQueen not Robert Stewart.
    2) Robert D McQueen died in 2001.

    I have other pictures if you are still working on this project.
    Ann McQueen

    1. Ann,

      Many thanks for getting in touch; I have incorporated your corrections above. I should be very interested to see more recent pictures of the house. If you send me a private message through the contact form in the right hand side bar I will let you have my email address. Alternatively, you can contact me on Twitter at @NicholasKingsle.


Please leave a comment if you have any additional information or corrections to offer, or if you are able to help with additional images of the people or buildings in this post.