£2.8million Lottery grant success for Hedd Wyn’s home

29 / 05 / 2014

The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) is today awarding £2.8million to safeguard Hedd Wyn’s Trawsfynydd home, Yr Ysgwrn. 

As Wales embarks on four years of First World War commemorations, the HLF is playing a key role in the centenary by conserving the Grade II* listed home of the iconic Welsh poet who lost his life in the conflict.

Ellis Humphrey Evans, better known by his bardic name, Hedd Wyn, was raised at Yr Ysgwrn and penned one of Wales’ best known war poems, Rhyfel (War), and reflected the horrors of war throughout his work. This National Lottery grant, awarded to the Snowdonia National Park Authority (SNPA), will ensure the conservation of Yr Ysgwrn, which inspired so much of his work, and will safeguard collections relating to Hedd Wyn, including Y Gadair Ddu (The Black Chair), the 1917 National Eisteddfod chair awarded to him posthumously after he was killed in action on the fields of Flanders.

Dr Manon Antoniazzi, Chair of the HLF Committee for Wales, said: “Yr Ysgwrn gives a vivid impression of life in rural Wales during the First World War and serves as a memorial for not only Hedd Wyn, but the generation of young Welsh men who also lost their lives in the First World War. This project will secure the future of Yr Ysgwrn and the legacy of Hedd Wyn and ensure that future generations understand the significance of this great Welsh poet and his work.”

First World War Commemorations

During the next four years, a number of projects and events will be held across Wales marking key dates, events and developments relating to the conflict and the Heritage Lottery Fund is providing small grants to communities looking to mark the centenary through the First World War: then and now programme. Hedd Wyn represents a generation of young men killed in the conflict, whilst his former home, which remains largely unchanged since he lived there, provides an insight into life in rural Wales during that period in history.

SNPA Chief Executive, Emyr Williams said, “Yr Ysgwrn and its surrounding landscape have inspired several of Hedd Wyn’s most well-known poems and continues to inspire people from all over the world who are fascinated by Hedd Wyn’s story and Yr Ysgwrn’s extraordinary heritage. Our aim now is to establish Yr Ysgwrn as an innovative cultural destination, which will convey messages about culture, society and war, to audiences in Snowdonia, Wales and the world. It also allows us to conserve Yr Ysgwrn’s unique collection of artefacts and archives, as well as providing new opportunities for education and interpretation for visitors in a way which recognizes the sensitivity of this remarkable and historical site.”

Welcoming the announcement, First Minister Carwyn Jones said: “We have a strong commitment to commemorate the centenary of the First World War through our ‘Cymru’n Cofio Wales Remembers 1914-1918’ Programme. I’ve been to Artillery Wood where Hedd Wyn is buried and it’s good to be able to work with other organisations such as the Heritage Lottery Fund so that we can leave a lasting legacy for generations to come as we remember the centenary of the war’s beginning.”

‘Keeping the door open’

Efforts to ensure the future of this important heritage site received publicity in 2009, after concerns were voiced about the future of Yr Ysgwrn by Gerald Williams, the nephew of Hedd Wyn, who then lived in and managed the home. Visitors to the farmhouse have been welcomed since the poet’s death in 1917, and his family have vowed to honour a promise made to Hedd Wyn’s mother, “to keep the door open”.

Eighty-five year old Mr Williams said: “Keeping the door open at Yr Ysgwrn is a way of keeping the memory of my uncle alive and although I have always welcomed visitors here I was uncertain whether this could be maintained in the future. The purchase of Yr Ysgwrn by the Snowdonia National Park Authority and the grant awarded by the Heritage Lottery Fund will ensure that the door will now remain open for future generations to pay their respects and to learn about Hedd Wyn.”

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