Ladies of Llanerchaeron

Mary Ashby Lewis managed the Llanerchaeron estate for 56 years after the death of her husband

Llanerchaeron has witnessed many transformations in Welsh society over the years. Perhaps most interestingly is the changing role of women. Llanerchaeron owes its survival, as an intact Nash estate, largely due to the role that certain women played in it.

Corbetta Williama Lewis (1757-1831)

Corbetta Williama was born into the Powell family of Nanteos Mansion near Aberystwyth. Her role at Llanerchaeron was a vital one as her marriage brought the Lewis family greater social status. Corbetta also brought a large dowry that essentially paid for John Nash’s involvement in redesigning the Villa that we can still see today.

Mary Ashby Lewis (1813-1917)

 In 1841 Mary Ashby Mettam married Major John Lewis, Corbetta's son. She moved to Llanerchaeron but unfortunately her husband John Lewis passed away in 1855. John made a remarkable decision for this period as he made his sister and her daughter heirs of his will and not his nephew. This was against the convention of that time, as inheritance usually followed a male line. He also allowed Mary to continue at Llanerchaeron for as long as she lived, but as she did not own it she couldn’t make any changes to the estate.  During this period standards of living were changing and new technological advances were being implemented into homes but under Mary Ashby Lewis’ management, Llanerchaeron remained unaltered.

Reports of Mary’s management of Llanerchaeron are admirable. She looked after the people around her including staff, tenants and neighbours, in a very maternal but progressive way. When her gardener wanted to marry and settle down, Mary Ashby Lewis had a house built on site for them to live in. On voting days all eligible workers were given a day off to make their vote and with no interference.

Mary Ashby Lewis never married again and continued to live at Llanerchaeron until her death at the age of 104 in 1917. Her legacy and regard in the local area was sincere as her 100th centenary declaration states

" “The reputation which you have acquired in the discharge of your public duties as a large landed proprietor has been well sustained by the great respectability of your private character…Your name will remain in mid-Cardgianshire for a very long time and will be ever mentioned with sincere affection.”"
- The Llanerchaeron tenants, 1913

Pamela Muriel Ward (1908-1996)

Pamela Ward has a more unusual and less direct connection to Llanerchaeron. Pamela was an antiques collector living in Knightsbridge in London during the later twentieth century. Shortly after her death her vast and eclectic collection came to Llanerchaeron, along with funds that essentially saved the house. As far as we know she never visited the estate during her lifetime, although genealogy has helped volunteers to discover a family link to the Powell family at Nanteos and therefore to Corbetta herself.