Posted on 30 November 2010
Last week, celebrity wildlife broadcaster Iolo Williams officially opened the recently restored lily lake at Gregynog Hall, where philanthropists Margaret and Gwendoline Davies drew much of their inspiration when painting.
The restoration project included the opening up the overgrown pond, installing four bridges made to the sisters’ original plans, and installing a model of Gregynog Hall, dubbed “Quackers Hall”, on an island for resident wild ducks to use.
“Margaret and Gwendoline Davies used to paint in the little summerhouse at the lake and I think I have discovered why,” explained Karen Armstrong, Gregynog Hall’s director.
“When you go there in the early evening, the light coming across the pond is absolutely stunning. It may have been the sisters’ version of Monet’s ‘Water lilies’.
“The pond hasn’t been seen to its best effect for such a long time because it was so overgrown. Now it’s a very attractive area to visit and our talented carpenter David Jones has done a brilliant job making the bridges and Quacker’s Hall, assisted by volunteers”
Gregynog Hall was bequeathed to the University of Wales 50 years ago by the late Margaret Davies. She and her sister were granddaughters of Victorian tycoon David Davies of Llandinam, who made his fortune from coal, railways and the construction of the Barry docks.
In his legacy, Davies left Gwendoline and Margaret £500,000 each, which enabled them to become passionate collectors of art from around 1908 onwards.
By 1924, they had amassed the largest collection of French Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works in Britain. Between 1951 and 1963, the sisters bequeathed 260 works to the National Museums and Galleries of Wales, completely transforming its art collection with works such as famous Renoir's famous Blue Lady, Monet's Rouen Cathedral and Rodin's The Kiss.
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