Trawsgoed Estate located eight miles (13 km) east of Aberystwyth in Ceredigion, Wales has been in the possession of the Vaughan family since the year 1200. The family are descended from Collwyn ap Tangno, founder of the fifth noble tribe of North Wales, Lord of Eifionydd, Ardudwy, and part of Llŷn, who had his residence on the site of Harlech Castle. The land falls within the ancient parish of Llanafan, in the upper division of the hundred of Ilar. In Wales an ancient parish was a village or group of villages or hamlets and the adjacent lands. Originally they held ecclesiastical functions, but from the sixteenth century they also acquired civil roles. The parish may have been established as an ecclesiastical parish. Originally a medieval administrative unit, after 1597 ecclesiastical units were separated from civil parishes to serve the ecclesiastical needs of the local community. The Trawsgoed estate extended over 22 Cardiganshire parishes, including Llanafan.
History of ownership
The estate and mansion of Trawsgoed came into the Vaughan family by the marriage of Adda Fychan with Tudo, daughter and heiress of Ifan Goch of Trawsgoed, ‘Evan the Red'.
The founder of the modern estate was the parliamentarian and lawyer, Sir John Vaughan, who was made Chief Justice of the Common Pleas by Charles II. It was Sir John Vaughan who acquired from the Earl of Essex much of the former monastic lands of the Cistercian abbey Strata Florida. At the same time further land was added to the estate through his marriage to Jane Stedman, daughter of John Stedman of Ystrad Fflur and Cilcennin.
The estate has been passed down in the landed family from father to son in a direct line since it was acquired by marriage in 1200. Like the Fulfords in Devon, the Vaughans are one of the few aristocratic families who have retained possession of a house since first taking it on in the Middle Ages.
Trawsgoed became an estate in the English sense of the word in the 16th century. Strata Florida Abbey, in the centre of Wales, was given to the 1st Earl of Essex to broker during the English Reformation and dissolution of the monasteries, and he sold much of it to the Stedman family. Sir John Vaughan married the Stedman heiress and his brother, Henry, her sister. So almost all the abbey estate was taken over by the Vaughans. In 1695, John Vaughan of Trawsgoed, the grandson of Sir John Vaughan, was created Viscount Lisburne in the peerage of Ireland. during the Civil War he married Malet, daughter of the poet and courtier, the Earl of Rochester, and granddaughter of the Cavalier, Sir Henry Wilmot, 1st Earl of Rochester, the victor of the Battle of Roundway Down.
The Vaughan family was granted the title Earl of Lisburne in 1776 and remained at Trawsgoed mansion over successive generations. The family at one time owned estates in Northumberland and at Mamhead in Devon. In 1947 the mansion house became the headquarters of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food in Wales, and the home farm is still occupied by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and managed by the Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research (IGER).
In 1873, the Vaughan's estate acreage at Trawsgoed was the largest in Cardiganshire at 42,666 acres (172.66 km2) as listed in the government return of landowners. Sir Pryse Pryse of Goderddan held 28,684, W.T.R. Powell of Nanteos held 21,933, John Waddingham of Hafod held 10,963 acres (44.37 km2).
Present day status
The mansion house at Trawsgoed was sold in 2007. The new owners seek to restore the oldest parts of the house. However, the Vaughan family own over 5,000 acres (20 km2) of the original estate that includes farmland, uplands and Common Land and they retain the use of an apartment in the mansion house at Trawsgoed. Shooting rights on adjoining Forestry Commission woodlands and fishing rights on the River Ystwyth have also been preserved. The house is set in listed parkland and gardens and is some eight miles (13 km) inland from Aberystwyth.
The last remaining Vaughan member to be in residence at the house was the Honourable John Edward Malet Vaughan, born 3 Oct 1952. He is the youngest child of John David Malet Vaughan, 8th Earl of Lisburne and Shelagh Macauley. Formerly a Director of Savills, John Vaughan acts as land agent to the Trawsgoed Estate. The estate manager is Mr. M.C. Lewis.
The Trawsgoed estate was home to the Lisburne (Lead) Mines, one of the most profitable in all of Wales. In the 1880s, Trawsgoed had the second largest lead mine in Britain. The mineral rights over an extensive area are still owned by the estate.
It was Ernest George Henry, the 6th Earl of Lisburne, who added the 50-room Victorian wing to the old Georgian mansion and built the summerhouse, squash and tennis courts and the ornamental fountain. He also had the library ceiling painted in the style of those at Windsor Castle. The house eventually included seventy rooms, a summerhouse, gardens with rare Chilean and Himalayan tree species that thrive in the mild moist climate of coastal Wales, the remains of a small Roman fort adjoining the grounds, fountain, stable block, lodge house, and unencumbered view of the Cambrian Mountains.
The estate shares a border along the River Ystwyth with that of the Hafod estate and Nanteos.