History - The Twentieth Century
In 1872 heiress Marianne Pryse married a young soldier, Charles Mayhew. Aberglasney was let out during most of their married life, which they spent in Derbyshire, but they moved here on his retirement in 1902 and set about reforming the place and its inhabitants.
Col Mayhew is said to be responsible for planting some of the rare specimen trees that remain in the grounds. He is better remembered for his fierce addiction to teetotalism. The Mayhews held Temperance rallies, gave Llangathen its Temperance Hall and turned out tenants who declined to sign the Pledge.
The dead hand of the staid Victorian attitudes of this childless couple influenced Aberglasney long after they themselves left the scene. Col Mayhew died suddenly at the end of 1907, having caught cold attending a temperance gathering. A year later Widow Mayhew took off abruptly for London and lived there for the next 30 years, declining to return to (or, indeed, to let anyone else enjoy) her property, which was left in the hands of caretakers and concerned relatives.
The Evans Interlude
When the inscrutable Mrs. Mayhew died aged 90 in 1939 the property devolved (through her father's second marriage into the Pryse-Rice family) to young Eric Evans, son of Brig.-Gen. L.P. Evans of Lovesgrove, who was thrilled to take up residence with his young bride after the war.
Once again Aberglasney became a lively home, echoing with dance music, bright voices and children's cries. But Eric Evans died in 1950 aged only 30, and his young sons' trustees decided that the property was not viable economically (perhaps even unlucky) and should be sold, ending a succession of owners that began with Thomas Phillips in 1803.
World War Two
Like most big houses, Aberglasney was commandeered for troop occupation. First it became a major mobile laundry for the RAOC. Later American troops from the Deep South arrived. One of them was Top Sergeant Dawson, sparring partner of 'the Brown Bomber', Big Joe Louis - a name familiar from his battle with Welsh boxer Tommy Farr. There was a real bomb, too: a stray from one of the raids on Swansea that fell in a field between Aberglasney and Lanlash.http://www.easynetdistribution.co.uk
At the sale of 1955 the estate was split up. Several tenant farmers acquired the land they had formerly rented; David Charles, a Carmarthen lawyer, bought the house and farm. He held occasional events like hunt balls in the house, but it remained unoccupied, and decay that began with damp in Mrs. Mayhew's time accelerated.
A further sale took place in 1977, this time fragmenting still further ownership of the house, gardens and farm complex. Although the new owners, at first tried to repair the house, the task was too great for them. Vandalism, theft and the elements combined to escalate the collapse of built structures and the advance of a sea of vegetation.
The dismantling of the portico was the last straw. When it was offered for sale by Christie's the law stepped in: its removal from a listed building constituted an offence. There was a prosecution; the publicity raised the profile of Aberglasney and its fortunes were reversed with its sale to the Aberglasney Restoration Trust in 1995.