Emma Louise BETTS and Gwernyfed Hall, Glasbury (BRE)
Tony and Irene Betts of Fareham, Hampshire, would appreciate help with identifying the significance of some old photographs which may link their BETTS family with Gwernyfed Hall. If you can offer information about the photographs, or know anything about their BETTS family, Mr and Mrs Betts would be delighted to hear from you.
Original request received, via Sally Wheller, 5 November 2011
Tony Betts provides the following background:
My aunt, Emma Louisa Betts (1891 -1971), was unmarried and a domestic servant until she retired c1951. During her working life Emma accompanied her various employers on visits to country houses
She collected 'souvenir' photographs of such visits, five of which, found together, seem to relate to two visits to Gwernyfed Hall in June 1914 and September 1915. My dear old Dad sent her a postcard in June 1914, addressed to 'Gwernyfed, Three Cocks, R.S.C. Brecon'. The second visit is the subject of these notes, and for the furtherance of the Betts family history the relevant objectives are to:
- identify the family living in Gwernyfed Hall at that time;
- analyse the two photographs of Gwernyfed Hall c1914/5, from Emma's collection;
- analyse and discover the significance of the two contemporary group photographs from Emma's collection.
a) THE RESIDENT OWNERS OF GWERNYFED HALL – The house was designed by architect W. E. Nesfield and built 1877-80 by Colonel Thomas Wood (1853-1933) 'for his wife'. One of Thomas's forebears was Thomas Wood, MP for Breconshire. The house remained in the Wood family until 1922, and therefore in 1914/15 they were the likely hosts to the large gathering and to the employers of my aunt Emma.
b) THE PHOTOGRAPHS OF THE HOUSE – There are two photographs from Emma's collection – both are blank unsent postcards:
This photograph shows part of the straight drive to the left of the house, and further to the left the stable block, clock, cupola and bell tower.
c) STAFF AND HOUSE GUESTS – There are three photographs from Emma's collection - they are all blank unsent postcards.
There is thus a strong link between the two group photographs, but without having seen all round the exterior of the house, the question remains as to whether the scene is at the rear of Gwernyfed Hall or at another large local property.
Whilst the two group photographs are strongly linked, there is as yet no answer as to the occasion or purpose of the assemblies except that they may have a scouting connection. There is a story that Lord Baden-Powell visited Gwernyfed Hall (date unknown), and we were told there may be information about this on the Old Hay website, under 'villages'.