WW2 Telephone Exchange
The main bulk of this report is relating to the cellar due to access not being gained inside the Hall and I've not done a return visit to try but the basement itself has an interesting story to tell. It was used as a secret communications centre by BT during WWII. The initial interior shots of the hall itself were craftly taken through a window!
This Daily Telegraph article from June 2000 outlines much of the history of this magnificent Grade II listed building dating from 1735. The hall has much sadness in its history.
LORD HARLECH, the sixth baron, is selling Brogyntyn Hall, Shropshire, his ancestral home for 200 years, ending an era for a dynasty that was so much a part of the Swinging Sixties.
For all their fame and social clout, the Harlechs seemed forever dogged by sadness, with three fatal car crashes, a suicide, financial distress and awful luck. The 46-year-old Tory peer is inviting offers of more than £5 million for the hall, considered to be one of the finest classical buildings of its generation.
However, it has been abandoned for 15 years and before that it was used as a telephone exchange. In the meantime Lord Harlech has lived at The Mount, a building on the estate, while managing the 1,445 acres of land included in the sale. Anthony Mayell, of Finn and Mayell, the firm marketing the property, said the house was "rather sad. It has been completely empty and decorative features have become damaged".
Remodelled from existing buildings in 1804, Brogyntyn Hall is imposing but, with just 16 principal bedrooms and seven reception rooms (there is a newer wing containing conference rooms and offices left over from the telephone exchange days) is relatively manageable. Mr Mayell believes that a single buyer wishing to return the house to a family home is a possibility although, so far, interest has come from developers wanting to convert the property into flats.
In 1985 Francis Ormsby Gore inherited the property and the Harlech title from his father, the media mogul. He was immediately hit by crippling death duties of more £1 million, forcing the family to sell some of their art treasures to pay for maintenance of Brogyntyn.
One scheme he proposed to make Brogyntyn more profitable was to lease some of its 200 acres of parkland to companies simulating battle conditions as part of management courses. But eventually the project was abandoned. He also discussed turning it into a health spa before deciding to sell outright in the hope of maintaining the house and its land - comprising six farms and a large pheasant shoot - as a single entity
Lord Harlech only inherited the title because his brother, Julian, committed suicide by shooting himself in a Fulham flat at 33. The circumstances were particularly tragic as his father, the ambassador to Washington who almost married Jackie Kennedy after her husband's assassination, inherited the title when his brother died after his car veered off a country lane, hitting a telegraph pole.
The sixth baron's mother, Sylvia or "Sissie", died in 1967 when her car skidded on a wet road and hit another vehicle. In another terrible coincidence, his father died in 1985 in a similar crash. Since his father's death, Lord Harlech's life has been one long struggle to make ends meet.
His father, the British censor, founder of Harlech Television and a close friend of John F Kennedy, forged a bond with the president's widow that ended in her accepting a marriage proposal in 1967. But swayed, it was thought, by the modest lifestyle awaiting her in Britain, she changed her mind to marry Aristotle Onassis.
She reportedly told a friend as she lay dying of cancer in New York that she "truly loved" the baron. "That stupid mistake has haunted me for 20 years. If only I had said yes." Lord Harlech's marriage to Amanda Grieve,the former model, ended in divorce two years ago.
Lord Harlech is believed to want to spend more time at Glyn Cywarch, his 4,200-acre estate in Gwynedd.
The Hall was listed for sale on 20th Dec 2013 for £5,000,000 as a 9 bed farmhouse. An Historic Grade II* Listed Hall in a parkland setting - An Historic house in need of refurbishment with an elegant courtyard, lodge, farmhouse, four further cottages and a large range of traditional buildings. Pasture, parkland and woodland.
It remains to be seen what happens to this historic Hall and weather the much needed renovations necessary to save its future are ever carried out.