Our beginnings at Dinas Oleu
Sitting above Barmouth overlooking Cardigan Bay and the Llŷn peninsula is Dinas Oleu; a gorse covered hillside that saw our beginnings take place.
On 29 March 1895, Dinas Oleu became our first piece of land that we would protect for everyone, for ever. The 4.5 acres of land was donated by Mrs Fanny Talbot, a reasonably wealthy land owner, philanthropist and friend of Octavia Hill and Canon Hardwicke Rawnsley, two of our founders.
Mrs Talbot was born in 1824 in Bridgwater, Somerset. She moved to Ty'n-y-Ffynon, on the slopes of Dinas Oleu, following her husband’s death, George Tertius Talbot in 1873 and devoted herself to local philanthropic work.
" I have long wanted to secure for the public for ever the enjoyment of Dinas Oleu, but wish to put it to the custody of some society that will never vulgarise it, or prevent wild nature from having its way…and it appears to me that your association has been born in the nick of time."
Mrs Talbot saw the importance of our nation’s heritage and open spaces and wanted to preserve them for everyone to enjoy; as was our founders vision when they established the charity in 1895. More than 120 years later, these values are still at the heart of everything we do. We look after special places for everyone, for ever.
When Mrs Fanny Talbot donated this piece of land little did she know that it would grow to be Europe’s largest conservation charity. From Dinas Oleu you can see many of the 58,000 acres of land we now look after in Snowdonia along with 196 miles of Welsh coastline. On the top you'll find a stone platform built in 1995 to commemorate a 100 years of being in our care.
Mrs Talbot’s earlier work
Dinas Oleu wasn’t the first piece of land Mrs Fanny Talbot donated. In 1874, she donated twelve cottages and a 4.5 acre area of land to the influential art critic, John Ruskin’s project, The Guild of St George. The project was to right some of the social wrongs of the day and make the country a happier and more beautiful place in which to live and work. Ruskin wrote about Mrs Talbot
" She's a motherly, bright, black-eyed woman of fifty…and curious beyond any magpie that ever was, but always giving her spoons away instead of stealing them. Practically clever beyond most women; but if you answer one question she'll ask you six!"
Mrs.Talbot lived at Ty'n-y-Ffynon until her death in 1917.