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Things to see and do at Plas yn Rhiw

Toiletries including Yardley hand cream and eau de cologne, in the Yellow Bedroom at Plas yn Rhiw, Pwllheli, Gwynedd.
Yardley hand cream and eau de cologne in the Yellow Bedroom at Plas yn Rhiw. | © National Trust Images/Robert Morris

Plas yn Rhiw had many tenants throughout the years, all leaving their mark on this impressive 19th-century house in Gwynedd. Find out which treasures were left behind and how the Keating sisters made it their home.

Inspired by Sir Clough Williams-Ellis

Sir Clough Williams-Ellis was a Welsh architect who created the Italianate village of Portmeirion, and was close friends with the Keating sisters, Eileen, Lorna, and Honora, who acquired the house in 1939.

When visitors enter Plas yn Rhiw, they will notice a distinctive green slate flagged floor and picturesque Gothic door both brought to the house by Sir Clough. He also brought in the oak tree trunk columns carrying the neo-Georgian plaster arches.

Top features to see in the house

The house at Plas yn Rhiw was rescued from neglect and lovingly restored by the three Keating sisters. Here are some of the best parts for visitors to enjoy.  

The parlour

The Keating sisters enjoyed sitting in the parlour listening to records on their wind-up Columbia Grafonola, and often invited friends over such as Sir Clough.

Here they had an array of furniture and collections to suit all tastes at that time. Their best furniture, such as the Regency secretaire and the 17th-century oak chest of drawers, was brought over from Nottingham where the sisters originally lived.

The Keating sisters exhibited their collections of lustreware jugs and teapots on their furniture, along with the fireplace that had its own bread oven and plate warmer.

Late 19th-century Viennese vases on the side table in the Hall at Plas yn Rhiw, Pwllheli, Gwynedd.
Late 19th-century Viennese vases in the Hall at Plas yn Rhiw. | © National Trust Images/Robert Morris

New kitchen

The north kitchen wing was added in the mid-19th century by the Lewis family. When the Keating sisters acquired the house, they used it more as a utility room, equipping it with a slate sink and a Valor paraffin stove, despite Plas yn Rhiw not having any electricity – even by the 20th century.

Spiral staircases

Over the years there was much debate about the position of the stairs throughout the house, from the Lewis family to the Roberts and to the Keatings.

The stairs are now at the centre of the home, with the lower flight made of stone and the upper flights of oak. This is because damp rotted the base of the stairs, which had to be re-built by Sir Clough.

The previous staircase dated back to the early 17th century when the original house was built. These were blocked up in the 1820s when the new stairs were created.

Medicine cabinet

The Keating sisters had a well-stocked medicine cabinet that included a selection of pills, creams and drops to treat the range of ailments that they suffered from over the years. It also included an early 1900s food warmer, which Honora may have used during her nursing career. 

The house at Plas yn Rhiw, framed with bright azaleas and the new leaves of box hedges, in Gwynedd, Wales

Discover more at Plas yn Rhiw

Find out when Plas yn Rhiw is open, how to get here, the things to see and do and more.

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