GWENT welcomed Royal guests yesterday as the Prince of Wales visited a Monmouthshire manor house while the Duchess of Cornwall was given a tour of Usk.
HRH The Prince of Wales was at Llwyn Celyn, Crucorney Fawr near Abergavenny where he visited a 15th century manor house.
The farmstead will be restored thanks in part to the Heritage Lottery Fund who announced yesterday £2.5 million in support of the Landmark Trust’s rescue of manor house.
Meanwhile the Duchess paid her visit to see the work of the Usk in Bloom group and hear about the town's success in the Royal Horticultural Society's (RHS) Britain in Bloom competition.
Last year it was given a gold award as part of the competition and judging for this year's will be held next month.
The Duchess' visit saw three children and frequent gardeners at Usk Primary School show her around their gardens which were given a gold commendation by the RHS last year.
The school's acting headteacher, Victoria Evans, said Angharad Worsley, Jamie Hamar and Emily Agutter were regularly giving up their free time to improve the school’s environment.
Jamie said meeting the Duchess was a “once in a lifetime experience” and that the children had known about three weeks before her visit that they would meet her personally.
Usk resident Chris Williams, who has lived in the town for 10 years, said of the visit: “I think it’s lovely. It is really nice that the town has been recognised. It is a beautiful town with a great community spirit and it is so worth coming to see. I feel really privileged to be part of it.”
And the chairman of Usk in Bloom, Tony Kear, showed the Duchess around the town and said it was “an absolute privilege to represent 33 years of Usk in Bloom” as part of its royal visit.
Mr Kear said: "We were extremely honoured and delighted to have been asked by the RHS to host the Duchess and to welcome her to Usk. What a wonderful lady she is taking the time to talk to as many people as she did.
“What a fantastic opportunity it was to present what Usk in Bloom has developed over many years. I know our volunteers both past and present as well as our partners were incredibly excited at the visit and it was my privilege on their behalf to showcase Usk at its very best."
He said members of his group were out preparing for the visit on Wednesday night. “But they do that every week, without fail, whatever the weather,” he added.
The Duchess visited two private gardens on Ladyhill Close as part of her tour of the town. She visited Marion Powell and Len and Marie Watts’ homes, which both formed part of the town’s open gardens festival last weekend.
And Emma Williams, from Newport, was congratulated on her 47th birthday by the Duchess after taking a trip to the town for the afternoon with her fiancée Gwyn Reynolds and their dog. She said the Duchess was “lovely”.
Before she left, the Duchess unveiled a butterfly sculpture in Twyn Square, which is said to come from the town’s craftsmen signing off their wares with a small butterfly.
The Prince of Wales, who is a patron of the Landmark Trust, which restores historic buildings, visited the grade one listed building in Crucorney Fawr to see the plans.
He was shown around the farmhouse by Anna Keay, director of the Landmark Trust and had the opportunity to speak with members of the Powell family, who up until earlier this year lived at the property.
Lyndon and Trevor Powell were born in the house and told the prince about growing up there. Rosemary Griffiths, 71, their sister lived in the house from when she was 18-months-old.
She said: “The HRH The Prince of Wales was lovely, quite ordinary really – he put us all at ease. I never imagined I would shake his hand.
“I will be telling all my friends about it.”
Cllr Peter Fox, council leader for Monmouthshire, said: “It is a privilege to be able to meet the Prince of Wales. I’ve met him before when he came to the opening of the Tithe Barn in Abergavenny.
“It’s great that he can come to Monmouthshire as part of his tour of Wales.”
Llwyn Celyn is regarded by Cadw as one of the most remarkable of all surviving late medieval houses in Wales. The 17th century building is now in urgent need of restoration and has been continuously inhabited since the 1480s.
Neil Mendoza, chairman of Landmark Trust, said: “We are extremely grateful for HRH the Prince of Wales for being a patronage of ours for the past 21 years, his involvement with us has been of such benefit to us. This wonderful historic property can now be restored and appreciated by many.”
Following the restoration work, Llwyn Celyn will be available for self-catering holidays for up to eight people. The Old Barn and Threshing Barn will be adapted as a space for community use and as a interpretation room where the history of the site and the Black Mountains will be showcased for walkers and cyclists to visit.
The restoration work will begin in 2016 subject to the next stage of funding.