About The Bodnant Estate
The Bodnant Estate is predominantly agricultural, with some woodland and a few lakes, and also some mountain land in Snowdonia. There are three main areas of the Bodnant Estate:
- The main part of the Estate lies on the east bank of the River Conwy, centred on the Eglwysbach valley. West of the Eglwysbach valley, between it and the River Conwy, the Estate rises to about 767 feet (234m) at Mynydd Cauedig (or Garth Mountain), which has two lakes, fine views and good walking. East of the Eglwysbach valley, the Estate rises to about 1,118 feet (341m) at Moel Gyffylog, where there is an Edwardian shooting lodge and panoramic views of Snowdonia.
- Some of the Estate lies in the flood plain on the west bank of the River Conwy. This includes the Estate’s largest farm, some woodland and two historic sites – an old Roman camp at Caerhun and an ancient Welsh camp at Bryn Castell.
- The Estate also has some land high in Snowdonia, in the upper part of Cwm Eigiau, a wild and very unspoilt valley high in the Carneddau range of mountains. This runs from the lake (Llyn Eigiau) at an altitude of 1,312 feet (400m) up to the peak of Carnedd Llewellyn, which at 3,491 feet (1,064m) is the second highest peak in England and Wales and only slightly lower than Snowdon itself.
So, rather unusually, the Estate has land at all heights from sea level up to almost the height of Snowdon, although not all of it contiguous.
The agriculture on the Estate, typically of the area, is predominantly the rearing of sheep, with some dairy and beef cattle. There is little arable farming. The Estate comprises about a dozen relatively small farms plus some smallholdings. All the farming is let out to tenant farmers, and none is kept in hand.
The woodland on the Estate is quite extensive. Most of it is hardwood, and much of it is mature or over-mature. Some of the woodland is categorised as “semi-natural ancient woodland” (predominantly sessile oak) and has changed little for centuries. The Estate’s policy is to attempt to manage the woodland more actively than occurred in the past, where possible on a continuous cover basis (as opposed to clear felling). However, very depressed timber prices and difficulties of extraction make the active management of the woodland quite a challenge.
There are over 20 miles of tracks through the woods and over the farms on the Estate. Except where there were existing footpaths and bridle paths, most of the tracks were made in the early 20th century by Henry Pochin, so as to enable his mother to drive her pony and trap around the Estate. Our Holiday Guests are welcome to walk on all these tracks, which we try to maintain and keep clear.
The Estate is wonderful riding country, because of the dramatic lie of the land, the beauty of the scenery and the presence of all the Estate paths. So, our policy is to try to develop facilities for equestrian activities on the Estate.
There is fishing on three lakes on the Estate, including the largest (Llyn Syberi). This fishing is let out, as is the fishing on parts of the River Hiraethlyn and the right to fish on parts of the River Conwy. Likewise, the pheasant shooting on the Estate has been let out.
There are a number of houses for rent on the Estate. Some of them are available for rent as holiday lets. Most of the houses on the Estate are rented to permanent residents. A number of other houses are occupied by employees of the various enterprises connected with Bodnant. Also, quite a number of the houses are occupied free of charge by pensioners formerly employed by those enterprises or their surviving spouses.
Before the Pochin/McLaren family purchased The Estate in 1874, the Bodnant Estate was owned by the Hanmer family from 1820, and before then by the Forbes family.
In January 1875, Henry Davis Pochin (1824-1895) purchased the Bodnant Estate. Mr. Pochin was a Victorian industrialist and chemist, who made his fortune by the invention of a process for clarifying rosin to produce coloured soap, and also the development of processes for the production of china clay from Cornwall. He became involved in various businesses and was for a period also an MP.
Mr. Pochin’s daughter Laura married Charles McLaren (1850-1934), another MP who in 1911 was created Lord Aberconway by Lloyd George for political services. The name Aberconway is Welsh for “at the mouth of the Conway”; he chose that name because of the location of the Bodnant Estate.
Charles and Laura’s son, Henry McLaren (1879-1953), was also an MP before he inherited the title in 1934 to become the 2nd Lord Aberconway and a successful industrialist. He devoted his energies at Bodnant mainly to the Garden, which is principally his creation and which he created and managed for about 50 years until his death in 1953.
His son, Charles McLaren (1913-2003), the 3rd Lord Aberconway and another successful industrialist, similarly devoted his energies at Bodnant mainly to the Garden, which he managed and enhanced for another 50 years until his death in 2003.
Since the late 1990s, The Hon. Michael McLaren has effectively been running the Estate, although he lives with his wife Caroline McLaren and 3 children mainly in London, where he practises as a barrister.