Home of iconic First World War Welsh language poet Hedd Wyn to become museum and heritage centre

By Culture24 Reporter | 22 November 2012
a photo of a small room interior with photographs on the wall and ornate seats
The Black Chair of Hed Wynn at Yr Ysgwrn© APCE SNPA

The Snowdonia home of Hedd Wyn is to become a museum and heritage centre dedicated to his reputation as a Welsh language and First World War poet.

Best known by his bardic name Hedd Wyn, Ellis Humphrey Evans served as private in the Welsh Fusiliers before falling at the battle of Passchendaele in July 1917. During his short career he produced a series of highly regarded poems influenced by the Romantics and some searing war poetry, including Yr Awr (the Hero), which he wrote at the kitchen table of the family cottage while on leave in March and April 1917.  

The Grade II listed farmhouse called Yr Ysgwrn is little changed since the poet’s death. Plans to conserve it as a museum and interpretation centre were given a major boost last week when the Heritage Lottery Fund gave Snowdonia National Park Authority a £149,700 development grant to progress its plans.

The Park took custody of the house in March 2012 with financial support from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Welsh Government.

an early twentieth century black and white photographic portrait of a man with short hair
Hedd Wyn was killed at the Battle of Passchendaele in July 1917.© The National Library of Wales
Although he left school at 14 to become a shepherd on the family farm, Hedd Wyn's reputation as an important poet soon flourished. From his later teens he began entering his poems into the eisteddfods, and he was awarded several ceremonial eisteddfod chairs for best poet.

After his death he was posthumously awarded the 1917 National Eisteddfod Chair, which has come to represent the loss of a whole generation of young Welsh men during the Great War. Draped in black cloth at the moving awards ceremony, it has been known ever since as Y Gadair Ddu (the Black Chair).

The chair, along with many other personal Evans family treasures, now resides at Ys Ysgwrn, helping it become a place of pilgrimage for visitors from all over the world. The cottage, nestled within the stunning landscape of Snowdonia, has been identified by Welsh Government as a focal point for Wales’ First World War centenary commemorations. 

Visitors will ultimately be able to learn about this iconic literary figure, Welsh culture, rural farming life in the early 20th century and First World War connections at one site.

Hedd Wyn’s nephew Gerald Williams, who looked after the farm and house until March 2012, welcomed the news of the grant from the Fund.

“I promised my grandmother that I would keep the door open at Yr Ysgwrn as a way of paying respect to the bravery and success of my uncle,” said the 83-year-old.

“Knowing that the Park Authority has been successful in this application to develop their ideas for yr Ysgwrn is great news.

"It will ensure that the place will be safeguarded for the future, and that information about the life and work of Hedd Wyn will be available to visitors for many years to come."

More pictures:

a photo of a large stone cottage
© APCE SNPA
a photo of a cottage interior with beamed roof, slate floor, fireplace and Welsh dresser
The interior of Yr Ysgwrn is little-changed since the poet’s death in 1917© APCE SNPA
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