Gregynog has existed for eight hundred years. By the sixteenth century it was the home of the Blayney family, local gentry who claimed descent from the early Welsh princes and whose courage and benevolence were praised by the court poets. Their coat of arms is the centrepiece of the fine oak carvings in what we now call the Blayney Room.
For hundreds of years Gregynog was one of Montgomeryshire’s leading landed estates, at the heart of the community and the local economy. The Blayney squires gave way to the Lords Sudeley, then Lord Joicey. But in 1913 a huge estate sale saw Gregynog’s farms, cottages and woodlands sold off, many to their tenants.
Gregynog Hall might have been demolished had not the wealthy Davies sisters acquired it in 1920 to become the headquarters of their enterprise to bring art, music and creative skills to the people of Wales in the aftermath of the First World War. For twenty years the house was full of music, fine furniture and ceramics, hand-printed books from the Gregynog Press and, most extraordinary of all, the sisters’ collection of paintings by artists such as Monet, Cezanne and Van Gogh. Personalities such as George Bernard Shaw and Gustav Holst visited during these years for concerts and conferences –or simply to enjoy the beautiful gardens and woodland walks.
At the end of the nineteen-fifties, after wartime use as a Red Cross convalescent home, Gregynog was bequeathed to the University of Wales as a conference centre.